Poisoned Pen Press (2014)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (04/15)
In “Desert Rage” by Betty Webb, when detective Lena Jones is contacted by a female Senatorial contender to help investigate a multiple murder case that does not appear to be related to the woman, she is intrigued. Upon further investigation, Lena discovers that a teenaged couple has admitted to the murders. Both the boy and the girl have taken full responsibility for the torture and death of the girl’s parents and ten year old brother, and a vicious attack on the family dog. When the politician fills Lena in on her relationship to the young lady, the situation becomes even more complex.
Lena does not believe that the young couple was in any way involved with the murders, but since they both admitted to them, she has to work against them to find the truth about who really did it, and she has to try to get to the bottom of why they are admitting guilt. Lena’s partner Jimmy helps her with the investigation. While this is all going on, an arsonist tries to burn their business down, which is in the same building as Lena’s apartment. Lena senses that there might be a connection between the attack on their business and the murders. She also finds her own life in danger!
This is the first novel that I have read in Betty Webb’s Lena Jones series, and I loved it! The story is complex and the characters are very well developed. Just when I thought I knew who the guilty party was, there was a twist in the plot, and I found myself way off base! I love it when a great mystery writer does something like this because it is fun to be kept off guard. I highly recommend reading “Desert Rage.” I think that it would be a great choice for a reader’s group. I look forward to reading more books by Betty Webb.