That's what private detective Lena Jones learns when she helps thirteen year old Rebecca escape from Purity, a polygamy compound hidden in a desolate area near straddling Utah/Arizona border.
When Rebecca's mother is arrested for the murder of Prophet Solomon Royal, Rebecca's intended husband, Lena enters Purity masquerading as a polygamist wife to uncover the real murderer. In doing so, Lena finds out more than she bargained for—the shocking secret the cult's Circle of Elders will kill to keep.
During her investigations, Lena also discovers more about her own past. At the age of four she was found lying unconscious by the side of an Arizona highway, a bullet robbing her of her memories. Raised in a series of foster homes, Lena does not remember her real name nor the names of her parents. She thinks she has put the past behind her, but the sins of Purity's polygamous mothers and fathers force her to reexamine the few memories she has of her own mother the woman who shot her...
"If Betty Webb had gone undercover and written Desert Wives as a piece of investigative journalism, she'd probably be up for a Pulitzer...Child molestation, property seizures and unexplained deaths, not to mention the whole enslavement of women and rampant swindling of the state welfare system...The factual details--supported by research and cited in an afterword--are eye-popping." --New York Times
"Dark humor and thrilling action inform Webb's second Lena Jones mystery (after 2001's Desert Noir), a searing expose of the abuses of contemporary polygamy... Forecast: the recent conviction of Utah polygamist Tom Green has helped bring this issue to national attention. In an author's note, Webb, an Arizona journalist, tells readers what they can do to overcome public and governmental apathy. If the nation isn't too absorbed in fighting religious tyranny abroad, this book could do for polygamy.
Betty Webb is the author of the acclaimed Lena Jones mystery series, which includes "Desert Cut" and "Desert Wives." A former Californian who once lived on a boat, like the zookeeper protagonist of "The Anteater of Death," Betty now lives in landlocked Arizona, where she volunteers at the Phoenix Zoo. She also teaches Creative Writing at Phoenix College and is a member of the National Association of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild.