DESERT LOST by Betty Webb


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Private eye Lena Jones (Desert Cut, 2008, etc.) sets out to discover who killed an escapee from an Arizona polygamy compound.

Prophet Hiram Shupe, the crazy, epileptic leader of Phoenix’s Second Zion community, banishes most male members of his flock at 18, giving the select few who remain dozens of “sister-wives.” Lost boys like Jonah wind up on the streets uneducated and unprepared for real life, often reduced to selling their bodies. The women left behind are frequently passed around; Hiram gave his belligerent first wife Opal and a slew of others to his brother Ezra, who now oversees a satellite community in Scottsdale. Sister-wife Celeste escapes but winds up dead. Stumbling across the body while on a stakeout, Lena recognizes the clothes and hair as those of a polygamist and contacts her close friend Rosella, who runs an underground railroad for fleeing sister-wives. Rosella identifies the corpse as Celeste, who helped her escape from Shupe 15 years ago. Hunting for those responsible, Lena must also deal with the reappearance of the only foster parent she ever loved, the disintegration of her romance with a documentary producer and the demented stalker targeting her boyfriend’s ex-wife. Sidestepping good sense and ignoring her instinct for self-preservation, she ultimately winds up in a speeding car with Celeste’s killer.

Lena, with her nightmares and trust issues, seems as damaged as the women of Second Zion, but even readers who find her unsympathetic will be compelled and shocked by the grim depiction of polygamous life underpinning the mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-681-5
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Poisoned Pen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2009


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