Poisoned Pen, Feb 2008,
Private investigator Lena Jones and Oscar-winning documentary director Warren Quinn seek locations for the latter to film late nineteenth century Apache Wars. To their horror, they find a mutilated corpse of a small child that the Cochise County medical examiner sadly calls “Precious Doe”. Lena, who suffered child abuse from the foster homes she grew up in, takes it personally as this angel could not have been more than seven years old; she vows to find justice for the child.
Her investigation takes Lena to the nearby town of Los Perdidos where the descendents of the founders are armed for war against illegal aliens coming in from Mexico just like their ancestors were fighting Geronimo. As Lena keeps digging angering the generational locals although supported by legal immigrants working at a nearby plant, two more young girls vanish. Lena refuses to quit, but the more she learns the more confused she becomes as she starts to believe there is a conspiracy that crosses racial and religious lines to keep females subservient or worse; but the disappearances make no sense as they seem deliberate.
As Lena continues to uncover more about her infant abandonment, fans of the Desert saga (see DESERT NOIR, DESERT WIVES, DESERT SHADOWS and DESERT RUN) will enjoy her latest thriller that takes a fascinating spin on Southwest immigration. The story line is driven by the heroine who seeks to insure the young are safe unlike her own past. Interestingly, being a legal immigrant with documentation means nothing when corrupted power needs a fall guy because immigration has become tied to 9/11 (as if it was illegal Mexicans who hijacked the four planes). Betty Webb provides another strong whodunit with her usual thought provoking underlying social message that America is only as strong as our weakest.