Title: The Lovely Pines (A BJ Vinson Mystery #4)
Author: Don Travis
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: Aug 28, 2018
Page Count: 254
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5
When Ariel Gonda’s winery, the Lovely Pines, suffers a break-in, the police write the incident off as a prank since nothing was taken. But Ariel knows something is wrong — small clues are beginning to add up — and he turns to private investigator BJ Vinson for help.
BJ soon discovers the incident is anything but harmless. When a vineyard worker — who is also more than he seems — is killed, there are plenty of suspects to go around. But are the two crimes even related? As BJ and his significant other, Paul Barton, follow the trail from the central New Mexico wine country south to Las Cruces and Carlsbad, they discover a tangled web involving members of the US military, a mistaken identity, a family fortune in dispute, and even a secret baby. The body count is rising, and a child may be in danger. BJ will need all his skills to survive, because between a deadly sniper and sabotage, someone is determined to make sure this case goes unsolved.
Book four in the series. This could be read as a standalone, but I recommend starting with the first in the series if you haven’t already.
Blurb does a decent job of summarizing and tantalizing, so I won’t rehash. I will add though, the blurb makes it sound like BJ’s significant other Paul has a predominant role in helping to solve the murder, when he is mostly a background supporting character in this installment.
I will say up front, I adore the BJ. Vinson books. I love the New Mexico setting and how vividly Mr. Travis describes the landscape and intertwines tidbits of history. It makes the book feel more intimate and alive.
I’ve enjoyed the cast of characters since I picked up the first book – BJ is levelheaded, thoughtful and through. His interaction with other law enforcement agencies is one of respect, he doesn’t come in as a know-it-all who HAS to be the one to solve the mystery. He knows some agents are more willing to work with him than others and he goes with the flow.
As I mentioned above, Paul is very much a supporting character. The reader is treated to beautiful glimpses of their relationship: how much they care for each other, little couple quirks, and BJ’s angst at their age difference. Honestly, I love this kind of written romance, it’s so much more poignant.
BJ relies on Hazel and her husband Charlie. If you’ve read previous books, you can tell they are good friends even though their interaction is always portrayed as strictly business.
The mystery itself is nicely cozy. Astute mystery readers will probably figure it out fairly quickly, but it’s enjoyable watching BJ and his group work through the who-done-it. There are a couple concurrent mysteries which keep the plot moving right along.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book. Well-developed and interesting characters, an engaging plot, and a great setting. I really need to plan a trip to New Mexico!