The City of Rocks (BJ Vinson Mystery #3)

Title: The City of Rocks (BJ Vinson Mystery #3)
Author: Don Travis
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Genre(s): Mystery
Page Count: 290
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5


Confidential Investigator B.J. Vinson thinks it’s a bad joke when Del asks him to look into the theft of a duck… a duck insured for $250,000. It ceases to be a funny when the young thief dies in a suspicious truck wreck. The search leads BJ and his lover, Paul Barton, to the sprawling Lazy M Ranch in the Boot Heel country of southwestern New Mexico bordering the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

A deadly game unfolds when BJ and Paul are trapped in a weird rock formation known as The City of Rocks—an eerie array of frozen magma that is somehow at the center of the entire scheme. But does the theft of Quacky involve a quarter million dollar duck-racing bet between the ranch’s owner and a Miami real estate developer, or someone attempting to force the sale of the Lazy M because of its proximity to an unfenced portion of the Mexican border? BJ and Paul go from the City of Rocks to the neon lights of Miami and back again in pursuit of the answer… death and danger tracking their every step.

This could be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the first two in the series to establish the character’s backgrounds.

This is not a romance – there are romantic elements – but the theme of the book is a missing duck and an insurance claim that quickly slides over into a murder mystery.

My comments from my reviews of the Bisti Business are just as applicable here:

I thought this was well executed by the author and a very welcome change of pace from most of the 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 again like to commend Mr. Travis with his portrayal of the inter-agency cooperation. Far too many mysteries have agencies butting heads or being obtuse and difficult with the private investigator or detective, refusing to cooperate, not wanting to share information, threatening the investigator – you know the books. So it was incredibly refreshing to read a story where local police are working with the Border Patrol and including the private investigator. Bravo!

Lots of little red herrings to keep me engaged and interested in the murder mystery as it slowly unfolds.

However, I’m still not entirely certain about the impetus for the whole plot – the duck napping of Quacky Quack the Second. I just can’t decide if I find it humorous because it is so unlike anything I’ve read, or a bit too “out there”. If anyone is concerned, nothing foul happens to our fine feathered friend. Even after cogitating on the matter, I’m still not certain where I sit on the issue of the duck.

I did have one quirk with an aspect of the ending that involved a massive construction project – not saying more than that. I question how a construction project as large as was discussed could be done without anyone noticing. I’m struggling a bit with that.

The rest of the book – well done! I greatly enjoy the bits of southwest and New Mexico trivia and geography. Each time I read these books I find myself Googling the area and region. Check it out – City of Rocks! But the author doesn’t stop with terrestrial things; he drops mentions of dry seasons, how cold it is, the monsoons and the electrically charged storms that sweep across the landscape. The whole narrative makes for a splendid overview of a very interesting area.

I’m looking forward to the next installment!

A BJ Vinson Mystery

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Advanced Review Copy

Advanced review copy of The City of Rocks provided by DDP in exchange for an honest review.


I have been a voracious reader from the time I learned how to read. My Motto: "Never leave home without a book (or two or three)." Though once I learned how to knit that became "Never leave home without a book (or two or three) AND a knitting project." A long-time fan of science fiction, I've since discovered mystery/suspense/thrillers and m/m romance. I love stories that span the universe, paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, comedy; stories with veterinarian's (yay! animals!) or a men in uniform, a splash of BDSM or a threesome can be fun, and of course, happy ever afters. IF that's not a run-on sentence, I don't know what is... I'm not a fan of historical, horror, sports, plots with children, and New Adult/Young Adult. Thanks for reading my reviews! No two persons ever read the same book Edmund Wilson