The Lovely Pines by Don Travis Guest Post & Exclusive Excerpt!

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Hi guys! We have Don Travis popping in today with his upcoming release The Lovely Pines, we have a great guest post and a brilliant excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~

The Lovely Pines

(BJ Vinson Mystery 04)
by

Don Travis

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.

Release date: Pre-order:
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paperback: DSP Publications | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Mysterious Sniper Haunting The Lovely Pines Winery and Vineyards
Likely Military Trained According to Police

by Don Travis with Exclusive Excerpt!

May I first thank Pixie at MM Good Book Reviews for allowing me another guest post. She has hosted my books before. Hard to tell you how much I appreciate this.

The headlines above could come straight out of The Lovely Pines, but let’s look at the blurb for the book’s flavor:

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.

Kudos to the guys at DSP Publications for doing such a good job tickling our interest.

I pulled Ariel Gonda right out of my second BJ Vinson Mystery Series book, The Bisti Business. I liked the name and the background of the man, so he pestered me so much, I wrote the fourth book in the series around him. I hope you find him as interesting as I do. Of course, I had to lure him from California to New Mexico, but he’s a vintner through-and-through, and New Mexico is one of the oldest wine-producing areas in the Northern Hemisphere. It wasn’t that hard to do.

I’ve given you the flavor, now let’s take a look at a scene in the book. The one I’ve chosen comes near the end of Chapter 10. BJ has staked out a position behind a four-foot wall surrounding the Lovely Pines Winery and Vineyard near a wallow where he believes someone has been surveilling the winery. We pick up the scene just after he hears a car on a logging road in the forest behind him. Let’s see how he fares.

*****

Don Travis - The Lovely Pines BookmarkAs soon as the motor went off, the night went so quiet I realized I’d grown accustomed to hearing: animals in the bush, night birds calling, the flutter of unseen wings. Now everything waited and watched.

Ten minutes elapsed with no sign of the prowler. Had he walked on up the road? I was about to go check when I heard a faint rustle, as if a large serpent slithered through the grass and weeds. After a moment of panic—snakes and I aren’t compatible—I realized it was the intruder. He was crawling on his belly. Alarm bells went off again. This man was a pro. He moved like a couple of people I knew back in the Marines. Snipers. Men who could appear behind you without warning. Men who knew how to kill.

The old gunshot wound in my inner right thigh began throbbing. I pressed my hand down on it as if afraid he would hear the blood rushing, but otherwise I didn’t move a muscle. Another seemingly endless ten minutes elapsed while my body cried out for movement—any kind of movement—to relieve cramping. But I held still. Finally I saw the tall stalks of grass nearby twitch. The wily son of a bitch hadn’t returned to his former watching place. He’d picked another spot a few yards to the south… and closer to me than I liked.

The moonlight feebly penetrated a thin layer of clouds, giving me only a hazy view. Objects began to swim before my eyes, so I switched to my peripheral vision. That was a little better. Very slowly, a dark figure rose up no more than five feet to my left. He was concentrating on the winery, so he didn’t notice my presence. He placed his elbows on the wall and put a set of large binoculars to his eyes. I waited in silence to see what he would do.
While my companion of the night moved like a sniper, he did not appear to have a rifle of any sort with him, unless it was lying at his feet in the grass. As I watched, he scanned the lawn and parking lot, probably with night-vision equipment. He paused as he scanned my car. This guy was familiar with the routine at Lovely Pines and recognized the Impala did not belong. Cautious. And careful.

He transferred his attention to the winery building, turning away from me slightly so that his features were in silhouette briefly. My view was imperfect; my eyesight strained in the darkness, but this did not appear to be Diego C de Baca… or at least, the image of Diego I’d built up in my mind. It was more of an Anglo face, although I couldn’t have described him adequately because of the darkness.

I expected him to complete his surveillance of the area and head for the winery, but he surprised me. He slipped down behind the wall so only a portion of his head appeared above the top. He was waiting and watching for something… or someone.

Moving slowly, I pulled a small camera from my jacket pocket and pointed it in his direction. I closed my eyes before triggering the flash to protect my night vision. I heard a suppressed grunt when the light flashed, but when I opened my eyes, he was gone. This time he didn’t even try to keep quiet. He blundered through the underbrush, heading west toward the forest road. I took off after him. His night vision should be destroyed, so there was a chance I could catch him. Even so, I had trouble seeing once I reached the dark forest, smacking into a sapling or a bush now and then.

I fumbled for my flashlight and snapped it on. That allowed me to move faster, but it also painted me for the intruder. If he moved like a trained sniper, he probably was a sniper. Once I reached the road, I turned the light off and made the best time I could over the rough ruts in the darkness. Almost immediately, I twisted my ankle, which slowed me considerably.

A motor fired in the distance ahead of me. He’d reached his vehicle. I saw a glint of metal a moment before bright headlights blinded me. As I tried to cover my eyes, the vehicle backed down the road and out of sight, leaving me struggling to see anything other than the bright afterglow of his headlamps painted on the underside of my eyelids. I would never catch him now.

*****

Now to the boring part… the part about me. Sometimes I’m tempted to simply say: I was born. I grew up. I write books. But somehow, I don’t think Pixie would let me get away with that. First, let me say I write because I’m a reader. I grew up in southeastern Oklahoma as a tubercular child believing I couldn’t participate in sports. So I lived in the library and read. And wrote themes about what I read. And then they changed into stories. I didn’t learn I could do anything anyone else could do until I entered the army and marched all over the mountains of Bavaria with an Infantry Division. It was sort of inevitable that I would write, wasn’t it? I painted for a while, but that didn’t scratch the creative itch like writing did, probably because I couldn’t imagine I was an orange or an apple or a flower or whatever I was painting, but I could imagine I walked along with my characters in books. So here we are.

When I first wrote The Zozobra Incident where we first meet BJ and Paul and other continuing characters, I had no idea the novel would turn into a series. But BJ haunted my mind so that when I sat down to do the next book, there he was. The result was The Bisti Business. Then he talked me into writing The City of Rocks. Now we’re awaiting the release of the fourth: The Lovely Pines. All of them take place in my adopted state of New Mexico, which is a continuing character in all the series. The fifth, Abaddon’s Locusts, is due out on January 22, 2019, and the sixth is slowly building in a Word file on my Dell.

Over the years of writing and teaching a free writing class at a community center in Albuquerque, I’ve developed a mantra of sorts: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

I enjoy contact with my readers, and in pursuit of that goal, my personal contact links below.

Once again, thanks to Pixie at MM Good Book Reviews and to DSP Publications.

Don Travis - The Lovely Pines headerbanner

About Don!

Don Travis is a man totally captivated by his adopted state of New Mexico. Each of his mystery novels features some region of the state as prominently as it does his protagonist, a gay ex-Marine, ex-cop turned confidential investigator. Don never made it to the Marines (three years in the Army was all he managed) and certainly didn’t join the Albuquerque Police Department. He thought he was a paint artist for a while, but ditched that for writing a few years back. A loner, he fulfills his social needs by attending SouthwestWriters meetings and teaching a weekly writing class at an Albuquerque community center.

Here are some links to me and my writing:

Blog | Email: dontravis21@gmail | Facebook | Twitter

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