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    Review of DESERT WIVES: POLYGAMY CAN BE MURDER by Betty Webb

    A LENA JONES MYSTERY

    Poisoned Pen Press, 2003

    Private Detective Lena Jones helps rescue a 13-year old girl from her non-custodial father and the man the father has promised his daughter in marriage to. But when the prospective groom, a 'prophet' in a polygamous Mormon sect, ends up killed, Jones's client is the only suspect. And Jones knows that that local sheriff won't go looking for any other suspects. He appears to sympathise with the polygamous rather than with the abused children. Jones knows what it is like to be a deserted child and goes underground in the cult compound, pretending to be one of the wives.

    Author Betty Webb writes about the evils of polygamy and child abuse with authority while fully integrating these into an intriguing mystery. The prophet made plenty of enemies and had enough money to make even his best friend want to murder him. But who would he have trusted enough to lend his own shotgun to? Jones finds that the code of silence is in effect in the compound. The men barely talk to the women, and the women live in fear of more abuse, and in fear of one another as they scrabble for what little authority any woman can hold in a male dominated sect.

    Serious mystery readers will quickly guess the killer, but will want to keep reading to see how Jones finally guesses the identity. Jones' terrible taste in men makes me glad she's not my detective, but it also makes for a more interesting read.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/21/03

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