Revelations of a dark past blossom from the mutilated corpse of a beautiful girl-child laid to rest in a desert grave.
While scouting for locations near the popular tourist destination of Los Perdidos, Ariz., Scottsdale private eye Lena Jones and her lover, Oscar-winning director Warren Quinn, uncover a shallow grave. The body brings back nightmares of Lena’s own troubled childhood (Desert Wives, 2003). She has only fragmentary memories of her life before she was shot in the head by her mother and grew up in a series of foster homes. The sheriff, who doesn’t want Lena’s help, withholds the coroner’s report, but she can’t let the case go. Although the search is on for pedophiles, she worries that someone even more sinister is involved. A large chemical plant nearby employs many foreign-born workers. Could the dark-skinned child be connected to that population? When two more girls go missing, Lena’s investigations turn up the horrifying discovery that female genital mutilation is being practiced in the immigrant community. The desert girl-child bled to death when her genitals were crudely removed with a knife. One of the missing girls is the daughter of a self-proclaimed charismatic minister in the mold of Jim Jones. As Lena works to find The Cutter, parts of her own past are slowly revealed.
Webb’s dark tale of a clash of cultures is emotionally draining and intellectually challenging.