Desert Wives Mass Market Paperback – Jul 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Dark humor and thrilling action inform Webb's second Lena Jones mystery (after 2001's Desert Noir), a searing expos of the abuses of contemporary polygamy. The private detective is helping a client, 13-year-old Rebecca Corbett, to flee Purity, a polygamist compound on the Utah-Arizona border, when they stumble on the shotgunned body of Prophet Solomon Royal, the 68-year-old leader of the Church of the Prophet Fundamental-and Rebecca's fiance. Rebecca's mother, Esther, welcomes the girl with open arms, but when Esther's charged with the prophet's murder, Lena takes on the seemingly hopeless task of finding the real killer. Posing as a polygamist wife, Lena infiltrates Purity, where she unearths a closely guarded secret kept by the cult's Council of Elders. Meanwhile, the savvy investigator, who as a four-year-old child was shot by her mother and left for dead, learns more about her past. Rescued and raised by an Indian woman, Lena has grown into a scarred adult. Love and easy social contacts elude her. Lena can count on a few allies, including her Pima Indian partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, but she remains a loner, dependent on her own abilities-and the .38 strapped to her leg. The beauty of the Southwestern backdrop belies the harshness of life, the corrupt officials, brutal men and frightened women depicted in this arresting novel brimming with moral outrage.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Desert Wives" makes for compelling reading not so much for the mystery at hand, but because of Betty Webb's stark and incisive look at the dark reality of the lives of the women in the Purity polygamist compound. Where Webb describes how insular these women's lives are, and the extent to which they are controlled, exploited and manipulated, "Desert Wives" makes for absorbing and chilling reading.Read more ›
Author Betty Webb writes about the evils of polygamy and child abuse with authority while fully integrating these into an intriguing mystery. The prophet made plenty of enemies and had enough money to make even his best friend want to murder him. But who would he have trusted enough to lend his own shotgun to? Jones finds that the code of silence is in effect in the compound. The men barely talk to the women, and the women live in fear of more abuse, and in fear of one another as they scrabble for what little authority any woman can hold in a male dominated sect.
Serious mystery readers will quickly guess the killer, but will want to keep reading to see how Jones finally guesses the identity. Jones' terrible taste in men makes me glad she's not my detective, but it also makes for a more interesting read.
All pretty straightforward so far, but Webb ("Desert Noir") takes a turn into the all-too-real surreal as Lena, determined to find the murderer, infiltrates the community by posing as a polygamist wife. In absorbing detail, Webb sets out the daily minutiae, the religious tenets (the more children, the better heaven), domestic routines, casual brutality, and the abject position of women, whose daily humiliation and powerlessness (including the offloading of widows onto other husbands) stacks up as nothing against the monstrous secret Lena finally uncovers.
Webb's writing is lively, well-paced and suspenseful. Dark humor accentuates the bleak setting. An afterward gives the background on Mormon polygamy and the state of law-enforcement disinterest. Powerful stuff.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked this book so much, I went back and read the first in the series called Desert Noir. Funny, scary, likeable protagonist.Published 9 months ago by MysteryReader
Betty Webb has created a character who will keep you coming back for more. Lena's own tragic past is woven through every case she takes and every relationship she has. Read morePublished on March 15 2003 by Nancy L. Mehl