First, let me publicly thank Vicky for hosting my guest blog prior to the release of my sixth BJ Vinson mystery novel, The Voxlightner Scandal. Also like to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing the work.
I’ve often said I had no intention of writing a series when I created BJ and the crew. Then along came The Bisti Business, although I still didn’t wake up to what was happening. When The City of Rocks was completed, I finally acknowledged BJ and Paul were my best friends and weren’t going to go away anytime soon. The seventh novel in the series, The Cutie-Pie Murders, is germinating in my computer right now.
Let’s take a look at 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?
The following excerpt comes at the end of Chapter 7 and beginning of Chapter 8. It’s designed to show how devious the perpetrators of the Voxlightner scandal were. BJ’s run down some names of employees of the looted company, not one of which he can find. Three of them rented a house in Albuquerque at one time, and we pick up where BJ is leaving the REIT that leased the house with information on two of the names, which his secretary and surrogate mom, Hazel, will run down. At this point, I should clue you that Paul’s pet name for BJ is Vince, simply because no one else calls our hero that.
I collected what information I could on Stark and Stanton, including social security numbers and references. On the way back to the office, I puzzled over why the names Stark and Stanton sounded vaguely familiar. Neither name had shown up in the Voxlightner file before.
I handed over the information to Hazel when I got back to the office. She hadn’t heard anything from Paul. But before I even got Stark’s and Stanton’s references called, she stuck her head in my door.
“Something’s fishy. The social security numbers don’t match.”
“Neither one of them.”
The references turned out to be phony as well.
A little bell went off in my head. I googled both names and instantly understood why they seemed familiar. William Stark—or more likely Willie Stark—and Adam Stanton were characters in Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the King’s Men, based loosely on the life and death of the Kingfish, Governor Huey P. Long of Louisiana. Someone owned both a sense of history and humor.
My one true love got pumped when I told him what I’d learned about the Georgia Street address. He needed the uptick because he considered his trip to Socorro a bust.Once Paul rushed through the telling, he turned back to the results of my day. “So how do we run down Willie Stark and his henchman, Adam Stanton?”
“As I recall the book, Stanton was Stark’s nemesis, not his henchman. I believe Dr. Stanton assassinated the governor in the halls of the capitol for disgracing the doctor’s sister.”
“And it was based on a real dude?” Paul asked.
“The author took his inspiration from the life of Huey P. Long, a real-life governor of Louisiana in the 1930s. Long was quite a character, just like Warren’s Willie Stark. Long served out his term as governor even after he was elected to the US Senate.”
“Vince,” Paul said, “your penchant for history is showing. But Louisiana?”
“If Long hadn’t been assassinated in 1935, he might have given Franklin Roosevelt a run for his money in the ’36 presidential election.”
“So how do we figure out who our Stark and Stanton really are?”
“Follow the money. Somebody real, not characters in a book, paid rent on the house on Georgia.” I smashed a fist against my chair arm. “Son of a bitch!”
“What is it?” Paul asked, his eyes as round as washers.
“The woman who sublet on Georgia Street?”
“I should have remembered when Hazel told me all she could find was a fictional Sadie Burke.”
“Don’t tell me. She’s out of All the King’s Men too.”
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 Vicky for hosting this guest post. Thanks.