“Desert Vengeance” by Betty Webb is a mystery/thriller series surrounding the main character detective Lena Jones. As with all Webb books she has a gripping plot while exploring the psyche of those she writes about, intertwining human rights issues. In this installment the subject matters of sexual abuse and foster parenting are explored.
When Lena was 9-years-old her foster father, Brian Wycoff, repeatedly raped her every week. To make matters worse, his wife was an enabler, knowingly looking the other way.
Lena is waiting to exact revenge for his crimes on the day he is released from prison. She has every intention of killing this man, but is thwarted when someone gets to him first. Now there are more murders to solve, because his wife was killed, shot in each eye. After being cleared as a suspect, Lena uses her profession of a private detective to investigate what really happened considering there are multiple suspects with motives.
“In doing my research I actually found a site on the Internet that is devoted to women married to child molesters,” Webb said. “Reading this is one of the creepiest things I have ever done. They are full of self-pity. They never, at any time, discuss the pain a child went through at the hands of their spouse. They really do not care. The common thread is their worrying about finances since the spouse was the money support. They very rarely blow the whistle and seem to keep their mouths shut making sure the money flows in.”
Even though she is seen as someone seeking vengeance, Lena is a very likeable, believable and sympathetic character. The theme is about letting go, and Lena must do exactly that while trying to control her obsession of getting justice.
In all her books Webb uses her past experiences to write riveting stories. Having been a journalist for more than 20 years she was exposed to many different kinds of cases. She knows what it is like to write about controversial issues, and uses those skills to make the novels very realistic. In this case, readers are able to learn about child molestation without the many horrific details.
With a powerful subject, enthralling characters, and a compelling plot readers will not want to put this book down. Webb offers a twist and turn mystery, that is not superficial because of the way she presents such gripping issues.