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Desert Run: A Lena Jones Mystery Audio CD – Jul 1 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of Webb's fast-paced fourth Lena Jones mystery (after 2004's Desert Shadows), the scrappy workaholic PI is supervising security for filmmaker Warren Quinn, who's shooting a documentary about the escape of German POWs from a prison camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1944. When someone murders the leader of the escapees, arrogant, disagreeable Erik Ernst, now 91 and retired in Scottsdale, suspicion falls on the former U-boat commander's Ethiopian immigrant care-giver, Rada Tesema. Believing Tesema to be innocent, Lena agrees to investigate. Meanwhile, Lena's personal life is in disarray. Raised in foster homes and wary of close relationships, she's drawn to Quinn but is suspicious of his motives. Her partner in Desert Investigations, Jimmy Sisiwan, is getting married and taking a job with Lena's biggest customer, while Lena's mentor in the Scottsdale police department is returning to Brooklyn. Webb combines evocative descriptions of place with fine historical research in a plot packed with twists. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Webb bases her latest Lena Jones adventure on a real episode in Arizona history: the great escape of 25 Germans from Camp Papago, a POW camp located between Phoenix and Scottsdale. Famous director Warren Quinn is making a documentary about the escape, and Lena's firm, Desert Investigations, is hired to handle security for the project. One of the escaped POWs, Erik Ernst, still lives in Scottsdale and is starring in the movie. When he is found murdered, Rada Tesema, his Ethiopian caregiver, is immediately suspected. Rada pleads for Lena to help prove him innocent, and she soon learns that Ernst had a huge number of enemies, many of whom would have gladly seen him dead. Readers may wonder why the brainy and beautiful Lena would begin dating whiny and pedantic Warren, but that's the only slightly off note in an otherwise fascinating adventure. As in the preceding episodes in the series, Webb effectively evokes the beauty of the Arizona desert. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Betsy Webb writes about current hot topics or ones from the past. This one explored an escape from a German POW camp on U.S. soil and murders that occurred around the same time period. I was interested to read about this camp (which was based on an actual place and escape in Arizona) because there was a German POW camp very near where I live during that same time period.
The story flowed well; the characters were nicely developed. One complaint I do have is the way Webb is handling Lena's love life. There are a few events that occurred in this book and the past two that were pretty unbelievable, in my opinion. But overall, I enjoyed the growth that Lena is showing, learning to trust other people - hard to do for a victim of abuse.
I'm looking forward to the next adventure in the Southwest. Oh, and another thing I really enjoy are the music references - I've discovered a couple of new (to me) artists that I am thoroughly enjoying.
I downgraded this book one star because I thought the love story rang false. I did not feel the chemistry between the characters and thought the whole thing progressed much too rapidly. Lena is just beginning to trust relationships and baby steps seem more appropriate.
This was not my favorite Lena Webb mystery (that honor goes to Desert Wives), but it was a good addition to the series and I am looking forward to reading her next entry.
Quickly, it becomes apparent to Lena that modern murders are related in some way to each other and to murders that happened more than sixty years in the past. The murder of a 91-year-old POW survivor unleashes a nexus of evil that ensnares Lena and almost kills her, too. This web begins with the unsolved mass murder of a farm family the day after the prison break on Christmas Eve in 1944 and ends with the revelation of a terrible betrayal of friendship and family over 60 years later. Lives are ruined, and lives are lost. Throw in a love triangle, and she comes as close to dying as she does in any of her other adventures.
Webb tosses in a clue to the resolution now and then; however,it gets lost in the complexity of plot twists and turns. Suspects seem to be implicated only to redeem themselves, and new possibilities emerge to take their places. So many people have plausible motives that there is no clear winner until the reader finds the last breadcrumb strewn over time.
Lena's past catches up with her as she deals with loss--a constant theme in her life. Throw in a love triangle, and she comes as close to dying as she does in any of her other adventures. Her partner, Jimmy, announces that he is leaving the firm to marry his girlfriend and go to work for a major corporation, deserting Lena and leaving her in a financial pinch. Her former boss from the police department is pulling up roots and returning to Brooklyn when the Scottsdale PD hires a new police chief; and Lena is conflicted about her new relationship with Warren, the producer, as she tries to reconcile what she learns about his past and work through her own past of betrayal and desertion. In short, Desert Run has all the elements for which Lena Jones fans are looking: some history, some pathos, and a great deal of murder, mayhem, and excitement.