Desert Run by Betty Webb

March 15, 2006
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Desert Run
A Lena Jones Mystery
Betty Webb

Poisoned Pen Press
Mar 15, 2006
Hardcover/358 pages
ISBN: 1-59058-234-9
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"…there is something special about Lena Jones and her tentative movements out of the darkness and into the bright Phoenix light…"

"With a keen sense of Arizona's unique terrain and historical background, Betty Webb infuses Desert Run with heat, life and mystery."

The desert is a mysterious place where water hides beneath the hot sun in dark cool caves and where death and secrets wait patiently to be unearthed.

 

 

Lena Jones is at the fulcrum of change. Her partner is about to leave her for a steady corporate job, and the Hollywood director in town, who hired her to handle security, has romance on his mind. Suddenly, death jerks Lena back to reality.

During World War II German POWs cooled their heels at Papago Park. A couple of enterprising U-boat captains staged an escape on Christmas Eve and made it to safety—or so it was believed. Sixty years later, Captain Erik Ernst turns up dead, and his caregiver, a gentle Ethiopian man, is arrested for the murder. Lena doesn''t believe he''s guilty. Her task is to discover the whereabouts of two escaped German prisoners, one who may be the captain’s murderer.

With a keen sense of Arizona''s unique terrain and historical background, Betty Webb infuses Desert Run with heat, life and mystery. At first glance, most of Webb''s characters appear complex but as the story plays out become little more than scenery fodder to the main character of the desert. Throwing red herrings right and left, Webb leads the reader on several wild goose chases, salting the clues with a stingy hand. It is difficult to care about many of the characters. What should have been an interesting ride reads more like “word salad” at times.

There are good scenes and great promise in the major relationships, but they fall flat when they should be spicy and full flavored. There is too much restraint where there should be heated abandon. Many of the characters are little more than stereotypical walk-ons. However, beneath all the dross is a glimmer of real gold that keeps the reader guessing until the end and willing to keep slogging on. In the end—and in spite of some horrible proofreading mistakes—there is something special about Lena Jones and her tentative movements out of the darkness and into the bright Phoenix light. She possesses sheer grit to keep going no matter what or who gets in the way.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell

 

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