Kathryn (Oceanside CA)
An Enlightening Page-turner
Betty Webb’s fifth book in her Lena Jones series is another page-turner. This is not one of those “formula” mysteries that seem to flood the bookshelves. The Arizona desert setting is authentic. Her characters are complex and interesting. The plot twists and turns enough to keep you interested until the very last page. The subject of the book is horrifying and current; Webb has done her homework. She even shares resources on the topic in her author’s notes at the back of the book. You will not only enjoy the mystery but learn something as well. Wow!
Kim (Portland OR)
Didn't love it, didn't hate it.
Although Desert Cut by Betty Jones is the 6th in a series, for the most part it does a good job of standing on its own. I was conscious of having missed the “back-story,” but it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the novel. I found the main character quite likable and well fleshed-out. The mystery itself kept me involved, with many twists & suspects, keeping me guessing "who done it" until the very end.
With the exception of Lena Jones & her partner, however, Webb’s characters are flat and predictable. They're caricatures; they play "stock" roles. I found this aspect of Webb's writing disappointing.
Also, I'm under the impression the author's mysteries revolve around "issues" of which she feels the reader should be aware. I find this tremendously presumptuous and rather annoying. I generally avoid books that ambush me with a “message.”
If I have the opportunity to read another Lena Jones mystery, I'll probably do so, since I did find the character intriguing, someone I'd like to know better. I won't go out of my way to find one, though. C+.
Patricia (Bryson City NC)
The opening chapters are overlong and overwritten, with unnecessary explanations and descriptions. It is not until Chapter 12 that the unsavory premise is identified, one that might be considered inflammatory given today's Moslem/Christian conflicts. Female circumcision in primitive societies is not unknown; however, the unbelievably cruel methods described are, in the literature, rare. Normal physical functions would be almost impossible were this extreme "surgery" performed, and repeated opening and closing the resulting wounds would soon lead to death through blood loss or suicide. Judicious editing (as well as some copy editing) might improve readability
as well as reduce the crudeness of some of the descriptive passages.
Jean (Worcester MA)
The sixth of Lena Jones mysteries deals with another important social problem. Ms. Webb cleverly uses Lena Jones to bring the readers attention to this social atrocity.I found Lena Jones to be one of the politest P.I.'s I have ever met. Her distaste for the
problem presented does not come through with the passion that such a revolting crime merits and she claims to have. Making this problem more widely known would have been better served through a non fiction account of the occurrences.As a mystery
I found the book readable, however I found it difficult to befriend Ms. Jones but perhaps a female reader would feel closer to her.This is a light book that fails to anger the reader as the author intended.
Cheryl (Tucson AZ)
Desert Cut-A Cut Above the Rest.
This is the first time I've read about Lena Jones, she's a PI with a past. The book is the 5th in a series set in Southern Arizona with a lot of old west history behind it. A mystery involving some disturbing, but very engrossing matters.
Some readers may not enjoy the subject matter, but it was a fascinating learning experience for me. I consider myself a very well-read and street smart person, this book points out some things that are just not written about in today's world.
Like Jodi Picoult, Webb addresses a very serious religious and cultural practice which is very illegal in the U.S. Unlike Picoult she doesn't give all points of view; however she weaves the mystery in and out of Jones's past and you can see how vulnerable Lena is as well and why she works so hard to find the people who commit these crimes.
The book is a very fast-paced, engrossing read. Once I had throughly immersed myself in it, I couldn't put it down. I have even gone to my local library to read the first book in the series, they do have all of Webb's works.
I had asked to review this book because I live in Southern Arizona, Webb keeps with the facts, the geography and the correct environment. I love finding local authors and new authors, it adds more flavor to my reads. This book is not for the squeamish, Webb did her research well and I was truly enlightened by the book.
I really enjoyed Webb's work and will now go back and become more acquainted with Lena Jones. The book does stand alone very nicely, until I read her other titles I didn't know it was a series book. I will definitely read this author again and hope it addresses another issue like this book. It made some mighty good reading!!