Title: The Bisti Business (BJ Vinson Mystery #2)
Author: Don Travis
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Page Count: 310
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Although repulsed by his client, an overbearing, homophobic California wine mogul, confidential investigator B. J. Vinson agrees to search for Anthony Alfano’s missing son, Lando, and his traveling companion—strictly for the benefit of the young men. As BJ chases an orange Porsche Boxster all over New Mexico, he soon becomes aware he is not the only one looking for the distinctive car. Every time BJ finds a clue, someone has been there before him. He arrives in Taos just in time to see the car plunge into the 650-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge. Has he failed in his mission?
Lando’s brother, Aggie, arrives to help with BJ’s investigation, but BJ isn’t sure he trusts Aggie’s motives. He seems to hold power in his father’s business and has a personal stake in his brother’s fate that goes beyond familial bonds. Together they follow the clues scattered across the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area and learn the bloodshed didn’t end with the car crash. As they get closer to solving the mystery, BJ must decide whether finding Lando will rescue the young man or place him directly in the path of those who want to harm him.
This could be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the first in the series to establish the main character’s background.
I will also state I did not realize this was a 2nd Edition until I started this review and thus do not know how it compares to the original and any changes the author/publisher may have made.
Lastly, the book does reference and clearly describes a male rape scene as part of the investigation, which may be objectionable to some.
The disclaimers out of the way, I can get down to the nitty gritty – if you enjoy Tony Hillerman mysteries, you will probably enjoy this series and The Bisti Business in particular. While not as in depth with the Navajo and Hopi cultures, these touch on more of the northwest New Mexico area and I love how the author draws the reader into this vast and formidable landscape.
Premise of the book is BJ reluctantly accepts a missing person’s case – a wealthy California wine mogul’s son has disappeared in the Shiprock area of New Mexico with his boyfriend. As BJ digs into the case and the bodies start piling up in gullies, arroyo’s and car trunks, BJ begins to suspect this issue isn’t so cut and dried and the missing son may be in greater peril if he’s found.
This is not a romance – there are romantic elements (so sweet too!)- but the theme of the book is a missing person murder mystery. I thought this was well executed by the author and a very welcome change of pace from the majority of gay romance books in publication AND a VERY refreshing change of pace from the run of the mill mystery books where the guy sleeps with the female protagonist in nine time out of ten.
As a reader who reads a lot of mysteries, I would also like to commend Mr. Travis with his portrayal of the interagency cooperation. Way too many mysteries have agencies butting heads or being obtuse and difficult with the leading investigator, refusing to cooperate, not wanting to share information, threatening the investigator – you know the books. So it was incredibly refreshing to read about local police working with the BLM and the FBI and including (with a few grumbles) the private investigator. I’m not saying it was a perfect relationship, there was enough chaffing to keep the plot interesting, but it wasn’t the dripping animosity I’m used to reading. Bravo!
The mystery itself was straight forward and has enough red herrings that it wasn’t immediately obvious “who done it”. This kept me happily engaged all the way to the end to have my guesses and suspicions answered. I won’t tell you if I was right tho…
And if I haven’t convinced you yet to read this series, I will that I greatly enjoy the cast of characters the author has developed. We meet Paul, Hazel, and Charlie in book one, and they make an appearance here. In San Juan County we add Aggie, Joe, Dix, and the intriguing and flirtatious Jazz. A diverse and interesting cast of characters that helped to round out a solidly written book.