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Desert Wind: A Lena Jones Mystery    by Betty Webb order for
Desert Wind
by Betty Webb
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Betty Webb's Desert Wind is one more of her wonderful page-turner mysteries. I first read her work in Desert Wives, her exposť of polygamy amongst fundamentalist Mormons. Webb has the ability to take a cause, and weave fact and fiction together to create a truly intriguing and disturbing read.

Desert Wind takes on the U.S. government and those who run it as well as those who would profit to the grave detriment of others. PI Lena Jones leaves her Desert Investigators office to rush to the side of her business partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, after he is arrested as a material witness in a murder. Sure he needs her help, she arrives in a small mining town not far from the Grand Canyon to find that he would rather she head back to the office.

There's another murder - the victim is a dubious character who has been trying to sell the idea that proposed uranium mining in the area will not do any harm. The townspeople know differently. They and their relatives and friends have been dying of cancer at an unprecedented rate for years, ever since the atom bomb testing in Nevada.

The facts that are addressed in Webb's bibliography will astound you. Or maybe not. You may already know all this. What hit me hardest was a comment from a public official when a site was being sought for the bomb testing, that Nevada was chosen because of the wide expanse of land that was only inhabited by ranchers and Indians! When Paiute Indians applied for reparation for damage done to them from the radiation riding the winds, they were told they didn't qualify because they were not citizens of the United States!!

Webb creates intriguing characters, like Olivia who dresses in Goth style and looks as though even a slight brush with a feather would push her over. She is a journalist, looking for a big story. As the plot thickens, Lena uncovers more and more about the prospective opening of a new uranium mine and the new jobs it would create for the area at the risk of the workers' and their families' lives. My meager words cannot do justice to Desert Wind. Thank you, Betty Webb, for not letting us forget.

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