Thanks, Vicki, for the opportunity to guest post your blog to honor the release of my sixth BJ Vinson mystery novel, The Voxlightner Scandal. Also like to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing the work.
When BJ Vinson first appeared in print in my novel, The Zozobra Incident, he had no idea he would live his life in a series. In truth, neither did I. But BJ and his partner, Paul Barton, and the other regulars who show up in the mystery series just wouldn’t let me go. I have favorites among them, but like a good parent, I try not to let my dotage show. The seventh novel in the series, The Cutie-Pie Murders, is germinating in my computer right now.
Now to Voxlightner. The novel’s blurb probably gives you a pretty good preview of the book:
No good deed goes unpunished, as investigator B. J. Vinson is about to discover.
Writer John Pierce Belhaven was murdered before he could reveal the name of another killer—one connected to the biggest scandal to rock Albuquerque in years. Two of the city’s most prominent citizens—Barron Voxlightner and Dr. Walther Stabler—vanished in 2004, along with fifty million dollars looted from Voxlightner Precious Metals Recovery Corp. It only makes sense that poking into that disappearance cost Belhaven his life.
But BJ isn’t so sure.
He’s agreed to help novice detective Roy Guerra reopen the old case—which the wealthy and influential Voxlightner family doesn’t want dredged up. But Belhaven was part of their family, and that connection could’ve led to his murder. Or did the sixty-year-old author die because of a sordid sexual affair?
I’ve selected a passage in Chapter 17 of the book to excerpt here. As BJ and Paul work to solve the murder of a local author, who happened to be a friend of Paul’s, they keep getting drawn back into an old Albuquerque scandal involving a looted gold and silver reclamation project. The two people who seem to be the culprits disappeared years ago. BJ has stumbled across a clue that leads him to Sandia Mountain just east of Albuquerque on a hunt for the missing men’s cars. He finally runs to ground an elusive character who’s supposed to be knowledgeable about everything that happens of that 10,000-foot peak.
When I finally ran Foxy Slight to ground at his cabin, the name described the man. He owned a sharp nose, which contributed considerably to his nickname. But the appellation defined the man’s character as well.
A small, sly, and suspicious man, he was reluctant to talk until I told him what I knew of the Sandias. Forming the eastern edge of the Rio Grande Rift Valley, the mountains, actually a single mountain with two crests, the northern known as Sandia Crest and the southern as Sandia Peak, rose a million or so years ago. K-spar crystals in the Sandia granite gave the mountain a distinctive pink color, especially in the autumn light, giving rise to the Spanish name of Sandia, meaning watermelon. Local Pueblos call the mountain Bien Mur—big mountain—or Sleeping Turtle because of its distinctive shape. The Tewas and the Navajo had their own names for the hulking mass of rock.That was enough to loosen Foxy’s tongue. He spoke the magic words.
“Heard tell you was interested in the old Voxlightner place.”
“Right nice place when the old man was alive. He come up hardscrabble hisself, so he was sociable with the locals. The old lady was standoffish, but okay. The kids, though. Thought they was made out of diamonds and emeralds. Didn’t want nothing to do with the local folk. Brought their own friends.”
I let him run on for a little, hoping he’d say something that would catch my ear. Eventually, I interrupted to ask about old mines in the area.
“Hell yes. They’s abandoned shafts all through this country. Have to be careful where you put your boots. Liable to step into one of them. Some of them’s kinda growed over and hard to spot.”
“Any big ones in the area?”
“A whopper. A hole as big as a locomotive engine in the side of a canyon wall. Or used to be.”
He caught my attention. “When was the last time you were in it?”
“Who said I been in it?”
“Come on. Bet you have a pickax and a miner’s helmet in that cabin over there. You’ve probably tested rock in the tunnel a dozen times.”
His smile heightened his resemblance to a varmint. “More like a hunnert, I’d guess. Traces but nothing commercial. Anyways I was off in that direction ’bout three months ago. This is September? No? October. Lordy, where did the year go? It was probably last May sometime.”
“Anything different about it over the years?” I asked.
“Why don’t you let me in on what you’re looking for, and I’ll tell you what I can. If you’re planning on opening up the mine, save your money.”
“No. I’m looking for a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria and a 2004 Chevrolet Blazer. With a body in each of them.”
“Lordy! You talking about murder. When?”
“The night of March 15, 2004.”
His eyebrows shot up. “That’s a long time back. I can tell you for certain there ain’t no vehicles in the place. Over the years the shaft’s closed up. But back in them days I was a little more hopeful and went inside regular-like. You can’t go more’n fifty feet into the adit now, but I’m here to tell you nobody stashed two cars in there. I found them, I’d be riding in style not bumming around in a worn-out pickup.”
My heart sank.
“But you know,” he said slowly, “I got a more likely place for you. What you’re saying might explain something I been puzzling over for years.”
Now I suppose I have to tell you a little about myself. My life is so uninteresting, I’m using the bio from my prior blog: I’m an Okie born and raised who rambled around Germany while in the US Army and Denver and Albuquerque while in the business world. A tubercular child, I grew up in the library of my small hometown rather than on the sports fields. So what else should I do but write? I was a paint artist for a while—oils and still life mostly—but that didn’t scratch my creative itch like writing did. I put away the brushes and took up the pen… well, the computer. Finding myself widowed in 2009, I flirted with moving back to Texas where most of my family has resettled, but the pull of New Mexico proved too strong. Here is where I choose to be and here… I will remain.
I welcome contact by my readers, and the following are some personal links:
Here are buy links for The Voxlightner Scandal:
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo
Let me close with another expression of gratitude to Vicki for hosting this guest post. Thanks.