Author: Don Travis
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 290 Pages
At a Glance: A New Mexican mystery novel I can’t say enough good things about. You’ll love confidential investigator BJ Vinson!
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: 2nd Edition
BJ Vinson is a former marine and ex-Albuquerque PD detective turned confidential investigator. Against his better judgment, BJ agrees to find the gay gigolo who was responsible for his breakup with prominent Albuquerque lawyer Del Dahlman and recover some racy photographs from the handsome bastard. The assignment should be fast and simple.
But it quickly becomes clear the hustler isn’t the one making the anonymous demands, and things turn deadly with a high-profile murder at the burning of Zozobra on the first night of the Santa Fe Fiesta. BJ’s search takes him through virtually every stratum of Albuquerque and Santa Fe society, both straight and gay. Before it is over, BJ is uncertain whether Paul Barton, the young man quickly insinuating himself in BJ’s life, is friend or foe. But he knows he’s stepped into something much more serious than a modest blackmail scheme. With Paul and BJ next on the killer’s list, BJ must find a way to put a stop to the death threats once and for all.
First Edition published as The Zozobra Incident & The Bisti Business by Martin Brown Publishers, LLC, 2012.
Review: I loved this book. I loved the setting and feel of being in Albuquerque. I loved our protagonist. I loved the pacing and suspense. This was a complete win for me.
About the setting: I imagine there are quite a few cultural differences between Albuquerque and the Pacific Northwest. However, even taking that into consideration, the story was hitting me more like a nineties historical than a contemporary PI novel, even though there were cell phones and a present-day car or two. Which didn’t bother me in the slightest, but I started to wonder if Albuquerque was sort of stuck in the past, with their western lingo and clothing styles. But I wouldn’t know for sure. That being said, I ate up the outdated fashion, cowboy discos, and silly old-timer expressions.
BJ is an intriguing man and an excellent protagonist. He’s an ex-detective, is rich, has interesting and often risky hobbies, sports a vicious old gunshot wound, hangs out at the local country club, and works as a confidential investigator. He’s not your typical playboy, but his love life is fairly dynamic. For one, his ex calls to have him investigate a blackmail scandal; two, the main suspect is a male prostitute, determined to get into BJ’s pants; and three, BJ falls for a college student during the investigation, who totally knocks his socks off in the bedroom. He claims to be a pretty boring guy, but for this story he certainly has a lot going on.
BJ’s thrust into danger when the blackmail investigation turns deadly. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering who was going to get popped off next. I loved this setup. There was something deliciously scandalous about BJ’s ex, Del, having BJ hunt down dirty photos of himself screwing another guy. And yet there was also something completely normal about it too. BJ treated the investigation just like any of his other cases, showcasing his amazing intuition and work ethic. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of his character.
There wasn’t a whole lot of talk about what BJ looked like, but with all those hot boys flocking to him, it’s a safe bet he was a sexy beast. A straight man made a comment BJ was very straight-acting, but until someone said so, I didn’t think much about how BJ presents himself. Another person was shocked BJ had a Stetson, which led me to believe BJ doesn’t dress as a typical New Mexican. But that was hard for me to gauge, perhaps because everyone in this story seemed as if they were either a cowboy or gang member. It did make me wonder if BJ was a bit of a snob, or at least seen as one.
BJ’s my new hero and definitely someone I’d want to meet in real life. I’ll be following his adventures closely.
5 stars—a glorious page-turner!
You can buy The Zozobra Incident here: