When P.I. Lena Jones's Pima Indian partner Jimmy Sisiwan is arrested in the remote northern Arizona town of Walapai Flats, Lena rushes to his aid. She finds 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, and the opposing side is taking hits, too. Then Ike Donohue, the mine's public relations flack, is found shot to death, casting suspicion on Jimmy and his entire family.
Lena finds not only a community decimated by dangerous mining practices, but a connection to actor John Wayne and the mysterious deaths tied to the 1953 filming of The Conqueror. Now it's up to Lena to uncover the decades-old tragedy no one in Walapai Flats wants to discuss.
Webb pulls no punches in exploring another human rights issue in her excellent seventh mystery starring Arizona PI Lena Jones (after 2009's Desert Lost). Lena follows her Pima Indian partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, to his hometown, Walapai Flats, where his brother, Ted Olmstead, is being held as a material witness in the murder of Ike Donohue, a public relations whiz who represented the soon-to-open Black Basin Uranium Mine. The mine's owner, Roger Tosches, once operated another mine that years earlier caused many cancer deaths and polluted the Navaho reservation on which it was located. Webb also charts the impact of aboveground testing of atomic bombs in Nevada on Downwinders, those who unknowingly breathed the poisonous air and ate contaminated food. A prickly but perceptive East Coast journalist and a remarkably sophisticated county sheriff help clarify the situation for Lena, who comes to realize she can't cure all the areas ills. Author tour.