When P.I. Lena Jones’s Pima Indian partner Jimmy Sisiwan is arrested in the remote northern Arizona town of Walapai Flats, Lena closes the Desert Investigations office and rushes to his aid. What she finds is a town up in arms over a new uranium mine located only ten miles from the magnificent Grand Canyon. Jimmy’s sister-in-law, founder of Victims of Uranium Mining, has been murdered, but the opposing side is taken hits, too. Ike Donohue, the mine’s public relations flak, is found shot to death, casting suspicion on Jimmy and his entire family. During Lena’s investigation, she finds not only a community decimated by dangerous mining practices, but a connection to actor John Wayne and the mysterious deaths resulting from the 1953 filming of “The Conqueror.” Gabe Boone, a wrangler on that doomed film, is still alive, but the only person the aged man will confide in is John Wayne’s ghost. It’s up to Lena to penetrate Gabe’s defenses and find out the decades-old tragedy no one in Walapai Flats wants to talk about. By delving into the area’s history, Lena learns that old sins never die; they’re still taking lives. As with “Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder,” this seventh book in the Lena Jones series exposes real life crimes, and the reason why high-ranking government officials want those crimes to remain under wraps.
About the Author
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sometimes, a novel’s ending spoils what preceded it. In this case, a well-thought-out plot concludes with a muddied confession to three murders. It begins when PI Lena Jones’ partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, disappears from Desert Investigations and Scottsdale and re-appears when he is arrested in the small Arizona town here his adopted family operates a dude ranch. It seems his “brother” is being held as a “material witness” in the murder of a PR flak for a uranium mine which is about to open nearby. Apparently Jimmy was attempting to “interview” witnesses and his efforts were “interpreted” as coercion. So, Lena to the rescue. Earlier, Jimmy’s sister-in-law was found shot to death. She was a kingpin in a group known as Victims of Uranium Mining, obviously those opposed to the opening of the mine, who were successful in obtaining a delay. As the story continues we learn a lot about the effects of bad mining practices on mine workers and of the atomic bomb tests in Nevada in the decades following World War II on local population and across the nation. The novel presents a well-drawn murder mystery, with interesting characters and a subject that is of vital importance. Some of it is a little gimmicky, but that really doesn’t detract from the importance of the subject. Recommended.