Thursday, December 5, 2019

Voxlightner Scandal’s Out, So Let’s Take a Look at It blog post #365
Artist: Maria Fanning
DSP released The Voxlightner Scandal, the sixth book in my BJ Vinson mystery series, last month. I’d like to present an excerpt of that novel for you this week. Part of the Blurb for the book serves to set up the narrative. Take a look:

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.

The following excerpt comes in Chapter 1. In the first part, BJ is calling his old partner from his days on the Albuquerque Police Department, Lt. Gene Enriquez, to solicit some information on the author’s death, but also to clear his investigation with the police. He always does this before snooping into an active police investigation. The second part is a conversation between BJ and the love of his life, Paul Barton, about the case.


Ignoring the mayor’s call, I scheduled my testimony on the embezzlement case with the ADA before dialing Gene’s private number. Our phone conversations, although increasingly rare, followed a pattern. Brusque greetings and catching up on domestic affairs before getting down to business. Given Gene’s family of five children, most afflicted with the dreaded teenage condition, he talked a lot more than I did. Today was no different. After he filled me in on Glenda and the brood, I brought him up to date with news of Paul and me. Once everything was covered, I asked if there was a police investigation of the Belhaven death.
“You mean the writer toasted in his garage? Why? Should there be?”
“You know the answer to that better than I do, but Paul’s convinced something’s funny. Claims Belhaven wouldn’t have attempted to repair a lawn mower or anything else. He wasn’t a hands-on type of guy.”
“We’ve had that feedback too.”
“So you’re looking into the death?”
“Like usual, we’re satisfying ourselves everything’s on the up and up… unless the medical investigator declares it an accidental death.”
“Paul wants to write a story on it.”
“Have him touch base with a detective named Roy Guerra. He’s handling it for us.”
Midafternoon I heard Paul’s familiar voice in the outer office. Hazel’s delighted rejoinder hinted I might be relieved of my current task, at least momentarily. My office manager-cum-surrogate mother—although totally perplexed by my gay life—nonetheless loved Paul as much as she did me. After a hug and a once-over from Hazel, he came through the doorway to invade my private space, and a welcome incursion it was. I never tired of looking on his handsome features.
“Hi. Am I interrupting anything?”
“Nothing uninterruptable,” I quipped. “Come on in.”
“I talked to Detective Guerra. We’re meeting here later, if that’s okay. Thanks for getting the contact for me.”
“Pleased to do it. What did he say?”
“He has reservations about Belhaven’s death, and I added to them.”
“Any theories?”
“Couple. I found out Pierce was interviewed on TV the afternoon he died. The interviewer quizzed him about his new book, and his answers might have cost him his life.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked as we moved to the conference table in the corner of my office.
“He writes—or wrote—mysteries. Fiction. But according to the interview, his next book was going to be based on an actual event. Do you remember the Voxlightner blowup a few years ago?”
I nodded. “A big scandal. I was still at APD, so it was probably late 2003 or early ’04.”
Paul flipped out a notebook and clicked his ballpoint pen. “What do you remember about it?”
“Gene and I weren’t assigned the case, so I just remember bits and pieces. One of the local lights, a guy named Barron Voxlightner, and a fellow named Stabler found acres and acres of mine tailings in Arizona that tested positive for commercial grade silver and gold. All they needed to do was extract the precious metals and sell them.”
“Sounds like a sure thing,” he said.
“That’s what everybody thought. The whole town wanted a piece of the action. The money poured in. People went crazy.”
Paul checked his notes. “I take it they formed a company called Voxlightner Precious Metals Recovery to do the project.”
“Right. They took VPMR—as it became known—public and raised fifty million.”
“That’s a lot of dough.”
“Absolutely. And yet the bottom fell out within six months. It turned out the tests were rigged. The tailings were worthless. But before the hammer fell, Voxlightner and Stabler vanished, and the lawyer exposing the fraud was murdered. The thing was never solved.”
Paul’s face assumed a thoughtful look. “When I was a kid, I thought anyone called Voxlightner was royalty.”

I hope the above is enough to hook you on the book sufficiently to follow the next chapter in the career of Burleigh J. Vinson… do you blame him for going by BJ?

The following are buy links for the book”

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

See you next week.


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