Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Desert Vengeance (Lena Jones Series Book 9) by Betty Webb

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 750 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (Feb. 7 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N6CE6EZ

Book Description

When the man who raped Scottsdale PI Lena Jones when she was a nine-year-old foster child is released from prison, Lena is waiting for him in the parking lot-with a big knife. "Papa" Brian Wycoff survives their meeting, but the next day, his wife, who knew about his crimes but did nothing to stop him-in fact enabled him-is found dead in their Apache Junction home, shot through both eyes. Terrified he will be next, Wycoff, violating his parole, flees north to the small town of Black Canyon City, taking shelter in an RV on his brother-in-law's small ranch. A couple of days later, he is found tortured to death, eight horizontal marks burned into his flesh. One for each of his victims?

Suspicion first falls upon Lena, who has trailed Wycoff to Black Canyon City to make sure he doesn't come near any other children. When the local authorities arrive to question her, she admits to having been tempted to kill her former foster father, but someone beat her to the punch. Suspicion then falls on Wycoff's other victims, the now-grown men and women he abused when they were still in his care, and on the mothers of the children who went missing before his arrest.

When Lena takes up the case, more to protect one of the mothers who has been arrested than to find the real killer, her conscience is torn. Does a serial child rapist, a pedophile also implicated in the disappearance of several children, really deserve justice? That choice might not be left up to Lena when members of a local group, Parents of Missing Children, start working to prevent her investigation from succeeding. How far will they go to make sure she fails?

This book cover topics that most do not like to think about. Betty Webb has written an excellent story she covers these topics from the victim 's standpoint.~~~ I highly recommend this book and series. (Betty Louise Davenport NetGalley)

I have read and enjoyed all of Betty Webb's mysteries. This book, the 9th in the Lena Jones series, about a former foster child who is now a PI, was quite dark, but well-plotted and a great page-turner. (L. Tilden NetGalley)

Webb, no stranger to hot-button issues (Desert Wind, 2012, etc.), takes on child molestation in a page-turner that presents both her flawed heroine and the reader with plenty of challenges to their moral codes. (Kirkus)

Desert Vengeance (Lena Jones Series) by Betty Webb is a difficult book to read because of the subject matter. It is an excellent book regardless of being about the murder of a serial rapist who had attacked Private Investigator Lena Jones when she was only nine. It delves into the past for Lena and shows how she has permanent ill effects from this childhood trauma, including having screaming nightmares. (Carolyn Injoy-Hertz NetGalley)

Webb offers fans the profound pleasure of watching Lena mature as she comes one step closer to understanding and accepting her difficult past, while providing new readers with an introduction to this strong and genuinely likable character. (Publishers Weekly)

No one writes southwestern mysteries as well as Betty Webb and she proves it again in this enthralling, wonderful 9th entry into the trials and tribulations of her private investigator, Lena Jones.~~~This is one of the best Lena Jones books I have read and I can't wait to see where this scrappy, smart, strong but flawed character finds herself next.~~~Highly recommended! (Linda Riffe Goodreads

About the Author

As a journalist and literary critic for more than 20 years, Betty -- a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, where her detective Lena Jones also lives -- has interviewed U. S. presidents, Nobel prize-winners, astronauts who’ve walked on the moon, polygamy runaways, the homeless, and the hopeless.

Now retired from journalism to write full time, she also contributes the Small Press column for Mystery Scene magazine and teaches creative writing at Phoenix College.
In her writing, Betty makes liberal use of her own varied background. She earned her way through art school by working as a folk singer but eventually gave up singing to concentrate on her art career. At various times she has picked cotton, raised chickens which laid blue eggs (Speckled Hamburgs), worked in a zoo, been a go-go dancer and horse breeder, taught Sunday School, founded a literary magazine, helped rebuild a long-abandoned 120-year-old farm house, and back-packed the Highlands of Scotland alone.

In 1982, Betty moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where her Lena Jones novels are set, but her roots are in Hamilton, Alabama, where most of her extended family still lives. In 2000 she published The Webb Family of Alabama: Survivors of Change, which focused on the descendants of her half-Seneca, half-English great-great-grandfather, William Douglas Webb, who ran away to sea at the age of 16, then after 14 wild years, settled down to farm peacefully in Hamilton. Recent DNA testing, however, has revealed that her seafaring ancestor harbored a big secret: he might not have been a Webb after all, but the descendant of a New Jersey colonist family named Price. Betty is now working to unravel this real-life mystery: did William Douglas Price change his name to Webb. Was he on the run from the law? (As a mystery writer, she kinda hopes he was)

On her mother’s side, Betty can trace her roots back to the Barons of Riddell in medieval Scotland. The Riddells, friends and financial supporters of the poet Robert Burns, did not always enjoy the best of reputations. The opera, Lucia di Lammermore, about a young bride who decapitates her husband on their wedding night, was based upon a real life incident in the Riddell family. But the Riddells maintain that Lucy (her real name) merely scratched her bridegroom, and that he simply overreacted when he screamed out, "Murder!" Anyway, that’s the Riddells' story and they're sticking to it.

"The impact of my unusual family upon my life has been profound," Betty says. "That's why I thought it would be intriguing to create a detective who had no idea of where she came from or who her parents were. Creating the orphaned Lena Jones has helped me appreciate my own ancestral heritage - both the good and the bad." About the recent DNA testing results, she adds, "All this time the Webbs were keeping an even bigger secret than the Riddells -- and they didn’t even know they were! How could I not have become a mystery novelist."

My Review

Desert Vengeance is the ninth Lena Jones Series Book by author Betty Webb. This is an excellent series that I do highly recommend. I have read most of the books in this series. Desert Vengeance did not disappoint...a fabulous addition to the series.

Desert Vengeance focuses on events that happened in Lena's childhood as well as the present. Lena, the brave, damaged and flawed private detective grew up in foster homes. Some were better than others. The worst was run by a pedophile who targeted young girls..and his wife was his enabler. Lena is basically ready to take out her abuser as soon as he is released from prison but someone beats her to it. First Brian Wycoff's wife is murdered, shot in both eyes, at their home in Apache Junction then he is found dead at his sister's ranch in Black Canyon City. Lena is close by to both of the crimes but we know she is innocent. It is fascinating to follow the different trails that Lena pursues and the all the people who have good reason to eliminate Wycoff.

I always enjoy the Arizona setting of this series. Webb lives there and knows it well. Phoenix and its endless suburbs are very well represented. And the characters are well fleshed out. So many people had motives. Really enjoyable mystery...I had a hard time putting down Desert Vengeance.

I loved the addition of the kitten to the tale. It was very realistic. Well then there was the other kittens...and the mother cat...and the horse. And by the sounds of it on the last page, perhaps Lena is finally waking up to the fact that the greatest love of her life might be right in front of her....

Great tale. Highly recommend.


  1. Loved your review. I have read all of Betty's Lena Jones books and they certainly open your eyes to issues that are largely ignored. I am looking forward to reading the latest.

  2. Thank you. I love this eye opening series as well. Betty has certainly brought forward a lot of information that was previously unknown to me. I love her coverage of the Mormon sects.