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DESERT RAIN,” by Jean Holbrook Mathews, Bonneville Books, $15.99, 240 pages (f)

Lexi Benson has long thought of her boss, Lawrence “LL” Latimer, as a surrogate father. So when she’s asked by authorities to identify his body, the loss is deeply personal in “Desert Rain.”

LL has been murdered and police turn to Lexi for help in solving the crime. But although suspects abound, identifying who would take such a desperate turn baffles both Lexi and Mesa, Arizona, police detective Steve Sutherland.

It soon becomes apparent that LL’s killer has an ultimatum against Lexi as well. A string of attempts on her life leave her battered and broken, yet she’s still perplexed as to why anyone would view her as a threat. As Lexi and Steve sleuth together, they realize their common faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only one of the many things they find attractive about each other.

Author Jean Holbrook Mathews has a great plot in “Desert Rain.” But, unfortunately, that’s about all she has. “Desert Rain” reads more like a police report, almost devoid of emotion and feeling, than it does a novel. And although the premise of the book seems like it would be charged with action and suspense, the scenes that should be fraught with danger fall flat. It is difficult to feel any connection with the characters; the few romantic scenes seem forced and the multiple plot twists do little to save the novel.

“Desert Rain” has clean language and romance that doesn’t go beyond a few brief kisses. There is non-grisly violence throughout the book that, because of its lack of description, comes across as very minute.

Mathews is an Ogden native. A member of the LDS Church, she and her husband live in Mesa.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor’s degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She blogs at agoodreid.blogspot.com.



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