Rated of 5
by William (Lynchburg VA)
Desert Cut, by Betty Webb
Author Betty Webb has created in private investigator Lena Jones one of those characters that will delight some readers and infuriate others. Jones, who shares many of the traits found in Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski (among others), arrives in the fictionalized Arizona town of Los Perdidos and quickly finds murder and mayhem in abundance. Through good luck and a more than ample serving of coincidence, she works her way through the case at hand. Local color adds a Southwestern flavor to events.
Not the first of Webb's tales to feature the detective--this is the fifth in a series going back to 2001 and "Desert Noir"--the author writes in the first person, so character development is essentially limited to Jones. Perceptions of others remain terse and two-dimensional, and the plot carries the story. Red herrings abound, and chance answers far too many questions.
But Webb also raises social issues in her writing; "Desert Cut" deals explicitly with a taboo subject, one that could offend or unsettle portions of her audience. It nonetheless qualifies as a bloody page-turner that should whet the appetites of fans desiring a fast-paced mystery laced with explicit gore, but its grim message may not appeal to everyone.