Things are never easy for Scottsdale private eye Lena Jones. Her partner in Desert Investigations is leaving for a wife and a job at Southwest MicroSystems. Her old captain at the Scottsdale PD is moving home to Brooklyn. Now she's doing security for Warren Quinn, director of a documentary being shot at Papago Park about the German POW camp and the ""great escape"" of Christmas Eve, 1944, when some prisoners tunneled out and fled. And one surviving escapee, Kapitan Zur See Erik Erns - a man in his nineties confined to a wheelchair after a boating accident - has just been murdered. Worse, his Ethiopian caregiver begs Lena to clear him as a suspect.
Lena, experienced in probing the past for answers to the central mystery of her own life, learns that Ernst and two other POWs hid out in the rugged Superstition Mountains. Nearby, on Christmas Night, the Bollinger family was slaughtered. A jury didn't convict the only survivor, the teenage son. What might Chess Bollinger know about Ernst - and vice versa? And how much can Lena trust Quinn, either as a client, a witness, or a lover?
At the start of Webb's fast-paced fourth Lena Jones mystery (after 2004's Desert Shadows), the scrappy workaholic PI is supervising security for filmmaker Warren Quinn, who's shooting a documentary about the escape of German POWs from a prison camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1944. When someone murders the leader of the escapees, arrogant, disagreeable Erik Ernst, now 91 and retired in Scottsdale, suspicion falls on the former U-boat commander's Ethiopian immigrant care-giver, Rada Tesema. Believing Tesema to be innocent, Lena agrees to investigate. Meanwhile, Lena's personal life is in disarray. Raised in foster homes and wary of close relationships, she's drawn to Quinn but is suspicious of his motives. Her partner in Desert Investigations, Jimmy Sisiwan, is getting married and taking a job with Lena's biggest customer, while Lena's mentor in the Scottsdale police department is returning to Brooklyn. Webb combines evocative descriptions of place with fine historical research in a plot packed with twists.