Desert Cut: Book summary and reviews of Desert Cut by Betty Webb

Desert Cut

A Lena Jones Mystery

By Betty Webb

Desert Cut
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2008,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

In Desert Cut, the still vivid memory of Geronimo's war mixes with the modern immigration war, the hard life on the Arizona/Mexico border contrasts with Hollywood's slick production meetings, and the cruelty of an ancient practice is tempered by a growing underground railroad fighting to save its young victims.

While scouting locations for a film documentary on the Arizona's Apache Wars, private investigator Lena Jones and Oscar-winning director Warren Quinn, discover the mutilated body of a young girl. The gruesome manner of the child's death evokes memories of Lena’s own rough childhood.

Clashing with the local law, Lena's investigation uncovers a small town with a big secret. Los Perdidos is not the Eden it first appears. Founded by the descendants of pioneers who fought Geronimo, the townspeople have now armed themselves against the hordes of illegal immigrants streaming across the Arizona/Mexico border. A significant population of documented foreign-born residents also lives and works in Los Perdedos at a modern plant. Lena senses a sinister force at work in the town—but where? Then two more girls disappear from Los Perdidos, and as the death toll mounts, Lena is tempted to implement some frontier justice of her own.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a first-rate plot that mixes the history of Geronimo’s war with contemporary immigration issues and contrasts the harsh conditions of border life with Hollywood glitz." - Booklist.

"Webb's dark tale of a clash of cultures is emotionally draining and intellectually challenging." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Though some may want to skim the more graphic passages, the intrepid will be rewarded with a propulsive, thought-provoking read." - Publishers Weekly.

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Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Beth
Wouldn't Recommend
Despite being a fairly easy read, I found this book extremely difficult to complete. Simply put, I didn't feel that the author's light tone matched with the serious content. I found it frustrating to connect with the main character and understand the struggles of her past as the author's simple writing style seemed to contradict the dark complex past of the main character.

Furthermore, I felt that there was a lot of extra information that muddled the true storyline. There were details that appeared completely irrelevant and just became cumbersome to read...even more frustrating considering it's a story whose dialogue and narration is so simply written.

Basically, reading this book was an arduous task, one that I would not subject to anyone else. I would therefore, not recommend it to others...if you're curious, wait until it's available at the local library.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by William
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.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Kristin
Desert Cut
I thought this book was too slow moving and I did not like the subject matter. I did like the Lena Jones character and would like to find out more about her. I also thought the Arizona setting made it interesting. I realize the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation happens in parts of the world,but I found it hard to believe it would be widespread in the U.S. I also felt the author had some ax to grind with chemical companies, which really had nothing to do with the book. When I picked this book I thought it was going to be about illegal border crossing, which would have been a lot more interesting and current subject matter.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Shirley
Desert Cut
This is the first Lena Jones book that I have read and I was impressed with her cleverness. The author developed the case methodically, without many red herrings. The mutilation of the children was aptly described without much graphic detail.

My chief objection to the book was the inclusion of Lena's boyfriend as I really didn't see his role in the story. I was also concerned with the way the author tied Leana's past to the story, and I did not feel that this enhanced the story much.

Otherwise, I feel that the book developed the characters, including their flaws and made for a pretty thorough description of the (ir)rationale behind this terrible process.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Phoenix Martin
Desert Cut - Excellent
This is the first time I have read Betty Webb. I will be searching for all the Lena Jones series.

Webb gives the reader an excellent mystery of the missing girls and addresses a very touchy subject with compassion.

The American woman in general does not know of the practice of female genital amputation. Betty Webb allows the reader to see the cultural basis and the horror of the act as well. This is a very well written book.

If you have not read Betty Webb, this is a great chance to experience her writing.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Gary
desert cut
This was my first time reading Betty Webb's Lena Jones mystery.Being set in the southwest,I may have been expecting a Hillerman knockoff,but was pleasantly surprised. Lena is a tenacious P.I. who's out to solve a grisly murder case without any cooperation from the town's police or the townfolk for that matter. Did I also mention she's carrying around some serious baggage? Read the book, then hunt down the other ones in the series, I am!

...13 more reader reviews

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Before beginning to write mysteries full time, Betty Webb worked as journalist, and interviewed everyone from US presidents and Nobel Prize winners to polygamy runaways and the homeless. Her mysteries are based on stories she covered as a reporter. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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