Lena Padget

Created by Lynn S. Hightower

Here’s one feisty Kentucky woman who shines her own kinda light. But watch out for the baseball bat.

When we first meet her, in 1993’s Satan’s Lambs, Lexington, Kentucky private eye LENA PADGET is trying to deal with the imminent release, on parole, of her brother-in-law from prison, where he’s served time for the murder of his then-pregnant wife (Lena’s sister) and his young son. Lena’s still haunted by the murders (she’s the one who discovered the bodies, including her nephew’s, which was still warm) and it’s shaped her life, taking her from being a bookwormish PHd. candidate to a sort of “women’s equalizer” who often accepts non-cash payments for her services, and wields a mean baseball bat. In the pre-Lisbeth days, she was really something.

Her brother-in-law, it turns out, is one twisted, nasty piece of work, a Satan-worshipping sicko, and not too shy about leaving threatening messages for Lena, who he feels owes him. And then a four-year old boy is kidnapped by the cult her brother-in-law once belonged to, and Lena finds herself once again racing to save the life of a child.

A powerful ending helped Satan’s Lambs win the Shamus Award for best P.I. novel, but it wasn’t Hightower’s first novel, nor is she a one-trick pony. Her novels have tackled such diverse subjects as female serial killers, debt collectors who take their job way too seriously, and, in the third and apparently final novel featuring Lena, When Secrets Die (2005), a woman suspected of suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. She also writes the Silver and String series set in the future, about a human cop and his stingray partner, and another series about present-day single mom and homicide dick Sonara Blair of Cincinnati.


In 1999’s much-ballyhooed at the time “Look ma! I’m writing!” God Is a Bullet by Boston Teran, a hard-boiled wallow in depravity and cults, covering similar ground as that in Satan’s Lambs, the hero’s name is Bob Hightower. Coincidence?



  • April 5, 2023
    THE BOTTOM LINE: Before there was Lisbeth, there was this Shamus-winning “women’s equalizer,” who had a hands-on approach to justice, and wielded a mean baseball bat.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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