DESERT RUN is Betty Webb's fourth Lena Jones mystery, and it's running neck-and-neck with her second, DESERT WIVES, as my favorite book of the series. In this installment, P.I. Lena is overseeing security for a crew filming a documentary about the World War II German POW escape from Camp Papago, Arizona. When Kapitan Erik Ernst, one of the former escapees, who has moved to Arizona and was the star of the movie, is killed, Lena plunges into an investigation to clear the Kapitan's Ethiopian caregiver of the charges. She soon realizes that Ernst's murder is tied not only to his 1944 escape, but also to the 1944 murder of a family on a nearby farm.
DESERT RUN is well-written, well-researched, and tightly plotted, and, as in the previous Lena Jones mysteries, includes a bit of social consciousness (in this case, prejudice against immigrants and development encroaching on the natural beauty of the landscape) without becoming preachy. In all her books, Webb paints a vivid setting; I love being able to revisit the Arizona desert and its cities through the Lena Jones books. DESERT RUN also does one of my favorite things in mysteries: weaves real-life history into the modern-day fiction, then adds an Author's Note at the back of the book to give readers more information about the 1944 German escape.