Albuquerque-based private detective BJ Vinson is back with another case. The job starts out with the simple question of who is breaking into a local winery, The Lovely Pines, and not taking anything of value. But things get serious when one of the winery employees is killed. Is it connected to the break-ins, or is it something to do with the man’s past, or his connection to the family that owns the business?
This fourth outing for BJ Vinson is a bit less of a travelogue than previous books. Most of the case takes place in and around Albuquerque, with no especially scenic locales visited. While I appreciated that aspect of the other volumes, in this case it’s just as well. There are so many suspects in the murder that it can be difficult to keep track of them. I had to pause once or twice when a name came up, trying to remember who it was.
As usual, the mystery will keep you guessing right up until the very end. It doesn’t help that there are a number of red herrings along the way, and it’s an alibi that only at the last proves to be false that finally reveals the culprit. There are probably a few times along the way when you’ll think you know who the murderer is, only to be proved wrong.
While BJ and the case are definitely center stage throughout the story, we get a lot more glimpses of the home life he shares with his boyfriend Paul. Unlike the previous book, Paul doesn’t get actively involved in the case, but instead there’s more about the relationship between the two. It’s quite a nice picture, although at times it felt like there were a few too many references to the age difference.
“The Lovely Pines” is available from Amazon.