Reviewed By: Harriet Klausner
Amazon US PB Amazon US HC Amazon Canada PB Amazon Canada HC
Class/Genre: Mystery Noir Private Investigator
Series: Lena Jones # 1
Poisoned Pen, Jun 2001, $23.95, 242 pp.
In Scottsdale, Arizona, during the Summer Spectacular Art Walk, someone murders Clarice Kobe, owner of the Western Heart Gallery. Though having retired from the police force eight months ago due to taking a bullet, Clarice's friend Lena Jones takes charge of the crime scene until the police arrive. Lena immediately concludes that Clarice's estrange spouse Jay killed her.
Attorney Hal McKinnon visits Desert Investigations, a private sleuth firm owned and operated by Lena and her partner Jimmy Sisiwan. Hal wants to hire Lena to prove his client Jay is innocent of the charge of murder. Only a written plea from Albert Grabel, who persuaded Lena to get into the prevention of computer crime, obtains her services. Jay screams frame and Lena wonders if her client might be telling the truth because the evidence is so obvious only a fix or a moron would leave it behind. Lena begins investigating a homicide that will soon prove dangerous to her.
The title DESERT NOIR is exactly what this novel is all about as it is a dark look at Arizona's desert area. For instance, the schism between racial groups is detailed to the nth degree and while that provides insight into the area, it also slows down the boiling plot. Lena is a great sleuth with a long past that makes her a perfect Noir detective as she seeks just the facts to solve her case and her own mysterious past. Betty Webb has written a powerful tale that Noir fans will enjoy reading.
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Harriet Klausner