A MelanieM Review: The Lies That Bind (Boystown #8) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5


The eighth book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery Series begins with a phone call in the middle of the night. Private investigator Nick Nowak is pulled into the troubled world of freelance journalist, and all around pain-in-the-ass, Christian Baylor.

When Christian can’t stop lying about the corpse in his bathroom things slip slowly out of control. Meanwhile, Nick’s relationship with former priest Joseph Biernecki takes an unexpected turn and the Federal case against Jimmy English proceeds toward trial.

Here we are, into the eighth book in the Boystown series, and  as a result of all the events he has had to go through,the character of Nick Nowak is showing some real growth and changes in his life.

He’s running (when the unrelenting heat of the Chicago summer permits), he’s turned his new lakefront apartment into a home, has established routines with Mrs Harker on Sundays, Brian and his boyfriend. He’s even  deepening his own relationship with the ex priest Joseph, which is different than all the others he’s had before.  Yes, Nick Nowak has become monogamous, a circumstance that has surprised him and happened without him realizing it. Or talking about it with  Joseph.  Even Nick’s bank account is flush with money…an even rarer oddity.

So of course, things get snarled and messy for Nick just as he thinks he may have some things in his life figured out.

I think that if you haven’t especially emphasized with Nick before, perhaps because of his infidelities and outlook on sex, this is the story, that brings you over to Nick’s side.  It will be in Nick’s relationship with Joseph, their dynamics, their  new relationship fraught with surprises for them both.  How the dynamics in the relationship is handled by both men over the course of the story is important because, not only does it feel real, grounded in the reality of the way people handle changes in their romances and perceptions, but because it marks a maturity and growth not seen before.

All the while that is happening between Nick and Joseph, Nick is heavily involved in two cases. One that is a carry over from the previous stories involving Jimmy English and Owen’s law firm.  The other is new involving an old acquaintance…Christian Baylor.  A pain in Nick’s proverbial ass, former friend of sorts of Harker’s, and somewhat yellow journalist looking to up his game.

Both mysteries are creative and complex.  Jimmy English’s keeps evolving over the series of stories.  Everytime you think Nick and the reader has a handle on where it’s going, Marshall Thornton changes direction and victim/culprits.  Its compelling, dark, and a puzzle you can’t turn away from.  And its not  over here.  The end is not is sight yet which makes me happy.  Jimmy English himself is a character that I’ve come to be addicted to as well (not a healthy thing in these novels with their high body count).

So is the one with Christian and the body in the hallway.  With Nick and his cases, nothing is ever straightfordward.  There are layers of deceit, links to Nick or people he knows to deal with, and emotions dredged up that Nick somehow must learn to deal with.  Also physical danger and tons of suspense.

How I love these stories.  So many outstanding elements and all handled expertly!

One last note on one of those elements.  That would be the 80’s factor here.  Marshall Thornton’s use of topics and elements from that era to bring the fact that these stories and Nick live in the 1980’s vividly alive is done so well.  Here AIDS has progressed throughout the US as has the research into how it is spread.  People are starting to talk a little more knowledgeably about it but the fear about blood contamination is rising as well (how well I remember that phase). AIDS, its growth, has been a common factor throughout the series.  You can chart the first whispers of it beginning with book 1, the chills making those early books all the more memorable because you know where it will lead you.

Other 80’s elements are mind boggling.  The double floppy disk Wang computer system that’s long disappeared from memory, COMPAQs, the appearance of IMB systems and a huge brick like mobile phone costing $4,000.  Amazing.  There’s more of course, but those made honorable mention in my mind for this review.  Thornton handles all the aspects of that era, big and small with equal respect and importance.  From sports scores, to newspapers, tech equipments down to music and clothes wear….the research is impeccable.  And folded into the narrative just as it should, matter of factly and not as an historic statement.

Yes, I love this, yes, I  recommend it and all the others that go before and should be read in the order written.  One of my top books/series of the year.

Cover art by Marshall Thornton

Sales Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published February 21st 2016 by Kenmore Books
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #8


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

A MelanieM Review: Bloodlines (Boystown #7) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 5 stars out of 5


In the seventh book of the best-selling Boystown Mystery series, Private Investigator Nick Nowak finds himself simultaneously working two cases for his new client, law firm Cooke, Babcock and Lackerby. A suburban dentist has been convicted of murdering her adulterous husband.

Nick is asked to interview witnesses for the penalty phase of the trial—and possibly find the dead man’s mistress. At the same time, he’s deeply involved in protecting Outfit underboss Jimmy English from a task force out to prosecute him for a crime he may not have committed. While juggling these cases Nick slowly begins to rebuild his personal life.

In Bloodlines, Nick Nowak is slowly putting his life back together after the shattering events of Murder Book.  He’s back in the investigative business and working for his friend Owen’s law  firm on several cases at once, one of which he has personal ties to.

On the home front?  Several things have shown him its more than time for him to find a new apartment,  issues with teenager Terry  arise and Mrs. Harker becomes an ever bigger part of Nick’s life.

Thornton’s ability to weave so many different emotional threads through his stories, keep them all vividly alive and connected at the right places to NIck and the reader, while pushing through not one but two murder/mystery cases?  Just amazing!

Plus in Nick’s awkward, “yeah, that’s not working well” sort of way, a romance or at least a burgeoning relationship is trying to take some baby steps.  Of course, with Nick, that means sex immediately. For the other person?  Not so much.  Which leads to issues and  some very frustrating times.

The cases that Nick is working on have very deep moral/philosophical questions behind them if one is the type to ask them (as Nick is).  One case involves the older mobster Jimmy English, who has always been good to Nick, and while he may not have committed this particular murder, has most certainly committed many others in his past.  And the other case?  A woman who refuses to talk about why she killed her philandering husband.  Owen wants Nick to find out anything that will make a jury more sympathetic.  Two muddy, convoluted cases, full of roadblocks, and craters before Nick can find any answers.

How each investigation unrolls won’t be discussed but they are compelling, moving, and the results of each astonishing.  One I guessed halfway through partially but it was only a half of what was to come.  As is with most of Nick’s investigations, Marshall Thornton uses his knowledge of human behavior, and gives us another Nick Nowak novel that contains both the bittersweetness of life and some hope for the future.

Thank the gods for the perspective of Nick Nowak.  His voice makes the series. It’s caustic, knowing, rueful, determined,  reasonably kind, and always human.  I can’t get enough of it.  Bloodlines, the path to his recovery, is a great example of that. Yes, I can see why it won the Lambda Literary Award but then I don’t see why the others didn’t.

I highly recommend this story and all the others in the series.  But read them in the order they were written.  None are stand alone stories and follow along the narrative order.

Cover art matches the others in the series and works emotionally.

Sales Link: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published March 6th 2015 by Kenmore Books
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #7
Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award for Gay Mystery (2016)


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

A MelanieM Review: From the Ashes (Boystown #6) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 5 stars out of 5


It’s winter 1984. Private Investigator Nick Nowak has allowed his life to fall to pieces: He’s stopped taking cases, given up his apartment and taken a job as a bartender at a sleazy joint tucked under the El. All he wants to do is stay hidden and lick his wounds after the death of his lover, Detective Bert Harker.

But when the least likely person in the world shows up at the bar and asks him to take a new case, he finds himself investigating the very unsuspicious death of a priest. Nick is convinced he’s wasting his time until the clues begin to add up to something entirely unsuspected.

How does one come back from a self imposed mental and emotional death?  That’s the state that Nick Novak has put himself into after the devastating events of Murder Book (Boystown #5).  Shocked even by his own actions, Nick has given up his detection work, his apartment, and withdrawn from the few friends he had into a drunken isolation.

It takes the one person he leasts expects bringing him a case to finally draw him back into reevaluating his current affairs and where he thinks he can go from here.

Somebody needs to invent new adjectives for Marshall Thornton’s body of work. The ones we have just get overused because of novels like From the Ashes.  Words like “beautifully written, simply brilliant, and thought-provoking” are just not enough.

No, I’m not gushing.

Readers have been wondering what comes next for Nick.  How does he pick himself up?  Now we have our answer.  And it’s perfect.  Because it’s slow, punishing, and a surprise every step of the way.

Nothing is ever easy for this man. Life seems to just want to deliver the worst sort of  smackdown to him in every aspect of his life.  But eventually, up he gets.  Whether its his curiosity, or some ounce of self preservation, or determination not to let the “others” win…Nick somehow gets up and goes forward.

Thornton has always made us fall into step with this man.  Its not always been easy but we can’t help  ourselves.  Watching as Nick thinks or investigates his way through each murky, often seedy case is addictive.  So is watching the man work through his own issues past and  present (and there are many).  There are as many complications in Nick’s personal life as there are in his cases and often they overlap in surprising twisty ways.

That happens here again right from that start in the person who brings Nick the case that eventually jump starts his life again.  Of course, its going to get messy, dark, snarly, and bodies will appear.   But its also fundamentally about Nick’s loss and grieving.  It’s heartbreaking in so many ways.  Prepare yourself for that too.

Thornton uses Chicago’s many Catholic churches and parishes in this murder mystery and the fact that it’s parishioners often stayed with the  same parish and priest for years for Nick’s investigation.  It was fascinating and effective.  And I love the way the  entire story played out.

Thornton is a master at taking murder and suspense and weaving such heartfelt emotions throughout that at times you feel its so real, that Nick and the others are so much  flesh and blood, that it hurts in places to read on  (Murder Book is a prime example of that). That happens here too of course.

That we as readers have taken Nick into our hearts is due solely to Marshall Thornton, an author I love and highly recommend.  This book and series is but one place to start your introduction to him.

Yes, I highly recommend From the Ashes but its not a standalone.  It must be read in the order the books were written.  So start with the first collection and work your way here.  There’s also a terrific audiobook series, so start there if that’s more to your liking.

Cover art again is more about the emotions reflected inside and about branding the series.  I like the covers for the Pinx Video better.

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published February 20th 2015 (first published December 1st 2013)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #6
Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award Nominee (2013)


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

A MelanieM Review: Murder Book (Boystown 5) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 5 plus  stars out of 5


In the second of the Boystown mysteries to be a finalist for the Lambda Award, it’s fall 1982 and Chicago is gripped by panic after five people die from poisoned Tylenol capsules. Amid the chaos, the Bughouse Slasher takes his eighth victim, this time striking close to private investigator Nick Nowak.

With the Chicago Police Department stretched to its limit, Nick takes matters into his own hands. But what will he do with the Bughouse Slasher once he finds him.

Just when you think you know how Marshall Thornton will break your heart, his characters and story twists and shatters it in ways you never expected.

That’s what happened in Murder Book, the fifth novel in Marshall Thornton’s Boystown series. In this story, the author lifts a horrific series of murders direct from the  80’s headlines, that of the Tylenol poisonings of 1982 in Chicago.  It changed the pharmaceutical industry and our nation but here Thornton uses it as a narrative framework wherein he place’s another murder investigation ongoing at the same time.  Each investigation has the same parameters.    There have been multiple murders. The race is on to catch the killer before they strike again. But there it stops.

The Tylenol poisoner is high profile.  The search has the backing of many agencies.  It’s victims range from a child to adults and its potential victims could be anyone.  The fear is overwhelming the population and the push to find the culprit enormous.  No expense is being spared.

Then there is the other one.  The smaller investigation.  One that has been all but  forgotten.  That of the Bughouse Slasher who’s targets are young gay men, often found on the streets.  Not victims that the Chicago PD or anyone is pushing to solve their murders especially.  Excerpt for the now ill, ex Det Harker and his lover Nick Novak who have become involved through previous events and Harker’s former  Slasher cases.

Starting from the very first page, everything has come home to Nick Novak.  Its like walking into a wound that’s still tearing open.  And that walking trauma is NIck as we start to live his life.  This story is shocking, heartbreaking, gritty and real.  It will bring together many of the people we have come to know in a relentless search for a killer.

There will be no spoilers here.  Just simply my endless admiration for the author who created such a character, and has stayed true to him, messy life, unbelievable pain, and struggles to continue.  It is unbelievably compelling reading.  Brilliant even to the point that even once through is not enough.

When someone asks you, what are the characters that have made an impact on you, Nick Novak, is on that list.  This story is among the reasons  why as is the series.

Start at the first collection and see why for yourself today.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art works to brand the series and sets the tone for the story.

Sales Links:Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 184 pages
Published February 6th 2015 (first published April 4th 2013)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #5
Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Mystery (2013)


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

In Our Contemporary Spotlight: Don Travis on The Bisti Business (guest excerpt)


The Bisti Business (A BJ Vinson Mystery #2) by Don Travis
SP Publications
Release Date: March 21, 2017

Available for Purchase at

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Also available for purchase in paperback at DSP Publications

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Don Travis today.  He’s brought an excerpt from his latest BJ Vinson mystery, The Bisti Business. Welcome, Don.

Excerpt from The Bisti Business

BJ Vinson Hosts Lt. Eugene Enriquez for Brunch at Eulelia’s in Historic La Posada Hotel

BJ’s not above asking his old partner at the Albuquerque Police Department for help when he needs it.

BJ knows his new client is trouble right off the bat. In Don Travis’s The Bisti Business, the confidential investigator accepts the assignment to locate the missing gay son of a homophobic multi-millionaire Napa Valley Wine mogul because as a gay detective, he has sympathy for the college kid and his traveling companion. So he sets off to find two young men traveling New Mexico in a bright orange Porsche Boxter. The first thing he does is turn to his old partner at APD for some help. How? By feeding him brunch, that’s how. The following scene comes toward the end of Chapter 2 of the book:

Gene Enriquez, my old partner at APD, had recently made lieutenant, and he sometimes chaffed at the rein the promotion put on his fieldwork. When I called he indulged in some bellyaching about being swamped but agreed to meet for a cup of coffee at Eulalia’s in the La Posada on Second and Copper, a short walk for each of us.

The central core of my building opened onto an atrium soaring through all five levels. As the elevator doors parted on the ground floor, my eyes automatically swept the waxed tiles. A year ago, a man had died on those hard clay squares when he went over the railing after attacking me on the landing outside of my office on the third floor. Sometimes I still saw smears of blood on the floor, but it was an illusion. The blue-black terra-cotta was scrubbed spotless and polished to a high shine.

I exited the building and headed east on Copper, pausing to say hello to the Sidewalk Society, nine life-sized bronzes by the Santa Fe based sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, that were grouped on the corner sidewalk outside the Hyatt Regency. After greeting the cast figures almost daily for the past few years, I had reached a few conclusions about them. The young woman with a briefcase was said to be an up-and-coming CEO, but I’m convinced she was a 1950s lawyer. The construction worker and his foreman, who sported a battered, old-style broad-brimmed hat, represented the thirties or forties. It had taken me some time to tumble to the fact the statues reflected different time periods in Albuquerque’s more recent history.

Gene yelled for me to wait for him as he strode briskly across Civic Plaza. “You always talk to statues?” He was a little breathless after running to beat the light change at the intersection. A stocky Hispanic with regular, pleasant features that seem vaguely Polynesian, Gene always appeared slightly frazzled; a consequence of dealing with the Albuquerque Police Department, a wife, and five kids on a daily basis.

I accepted both his hand and his ribbing. “Every time. Get some of my best answers from them.”

“I keep expecting one of the rookies to arrest the kid.” He motioned to the bronze of a teenager with a skateboard.

We entered the La Posada by the north entrance and stepped into another world. The interior was done in Spanish Territorial with aged wood copings, corbels highlighted in scarlet and turquoise, and heavily carved lintels. Nichos, small shelves in the white plastered walls, held carved wooden santos and ornate Mexican tinwork. This hotel had once been part of the Hilton chain—Conrad’s first in New Mexico, as a matter of fact—but had been recently sold, yet again, and was scheduled for a makeover in the near future.

Gene and I selected a heavy oak table stained ebony by the passage of time, and claimed a pair of sturdy straight-backed chairs padded in green and gold. We spent a few minutes bringing one another up to date on our lives.

After making a brunch of the restaurant’s éclairs and a wedge of superb lemon meringue pie dribbled with chocolate, Gene was through chitchatting. “Okay, so what do you want?”

“What makes you think I want something? Can’t I call a pal without having an ulterior motive?”


I pretended to think for a moment. “Okay then, I’ve got a client looking for his missing son and the kid’s traveling companion.” In less than two minutes, I’d briefed him on the situation.

“So they’re like that, huh?” He wiggled his hand back and forth, a gesture that was supposed to convey something. Gene knew me too well to be sensitive about my sexual orientation.

“You mean are they gay? Yeah, I’d say so.”

“And you want to get in their hotel room.”

“Seems a logical place to start since one of their fathers hired me to represent the family.”

“These two, they’re emancipated, right? Adults.”

“Both are twenty-one, according to Alfano.”

“Hmm. Alfano gonna file a missing person’s report?”

“He will if you think it’ll help.”

“Naw. We’ve got enough to do without looking for a couple of kids who’ve run off to play hanky-panky. But if they strayed across the border into Arizona, they might be cooling their heels in some county sheriff’s jail as we speak. They take that shit seriously over there.”

“Possible, but not likely. They could be in real trouble, Gene. Alfano keeps a tight rein on his boy, and the fact he’s looking for him is troubling.”

“Maybe the colt got out of the family pasture and is feeling his oats. But okay, have the old man file a report, and I’ll see if I can get us inside the hotel room. Unofficially.”

I picked up the tab to see what kind of damage Gene had done to my pocketbook. Anthony P. Alfano’s pocketbook, actually.

Gene caught me peeking at the check. “Come on, you can afford it.”

“Maybe so, but it’s not my expense, it’s my client’s, and I don’t know how picky he is.”

Gene Enriquez is a good detective and a smooth talker, at least smooth enough to get us access to the room occupied by—or held in the names of—Orlando Alfano and Dana Norville. There was little to see. The pair had taken their traveling bags with them, leaving behind nothing personal except for two bundles of clothing destined for the laundry, the only sign they intended to return. One set of duds was expensive Abercrombie & Fitch, the other bundle was GAP. It wasn’t hard to figure which clothes belonged to what dude.

The breast pocket of one shirt held a carefully folded Chamber of Commerce brochure extolling the virtues of El Moro’s Inscription Rock and the Ice Caves near Grants. A rumpled pair of trousers—the expensive ones—gave up a not-so-neatly folded tourist road map of the state.

The bell captain remembered the two men asking his advice about the Enchanted Circle in the Taos area. They had specifically asked about white water rafting along the Taos Box.

The clerk in the gift shop remembered the pair because, she blushingly admitted, they were both so handsome. Shortly after checking in, they had picked up several pamphlets from her, expressing interest in the Turquoise Trail, a fifty-mile National Scenic Byway up Route 14 to Santa Fe studded with quaint, historic villages. Orlando and Dana had been especially curious about Valles Caldera, the thirteen-mile wide crater of an extinct volcano south of Los Alamos, the Atomic City. Unfortunately, they also asked about Lincoln County and Carlsbad Caverns to the south and east, as well as Mesa Verde and the Bisti Badlands in the northwest corner of the state.

As we drove back downtown, Gene agreed to put out a bulletin on Orlando Alfano’s Porsche, an orange 2008 model Boxter S, California vanity plate LANDO 06. The kid probably got his undergraduate degree that year.

“A buggy like that’s bound to have a navigational system with a GPS satellite signal,” Gene said.

“A 750 Plus Magellan. The old man has his attorney contacting the company to get the present coordinates. They’re touchy about giving out such information, and Alfano is bound to have more clout than I do. The way I read this guy, he’ll have everyone from the governor on up calling the company if he can’t buy the data from them.”

“You do attract a certain type of client, don’t you?”


About The Bisti Business

Although repulsed by his client, an overbearing, homophobic California wine mogul, confidential investigator B. J. Vinson agrees to search for Anthony Alfano’s missing son, Lando, and his traveling companion—strictly for the benefit of the young men. As BJ chases an orange Porsche Boxster all over New Mexico, he soon becomes aware he is not the only one looking for the distinctive car. Every time BJ finds a clue, someone has been there before him. He arrives in Taos just in time to see the car plunge into the 650-foot-deep Rio Grande Gorge. Has he failed in his mission?

Lando’s brother, Aggie, arrives to help with BJ’s investigation, but BJ isn’t sure he trusts Aggie’s motives. He seems to hold power in his father’s business and has a personal stake in his brother’s fate that goes beyond familial bonds. Together they follow the clues scattered across the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area and learn the bloodshed didn’t end with the car crash. As they get closer to solving the mystery, BJ must decide whether finding Lando will rescue the young man or place him directly in the path of those who want to harm him.

About the Author

According to custom, I’m supposed to tell you something about me. That won’t take long. Born an Okie, I took a roundabout journey to my adopted home in New Mexico… which shows up in all her glory in all my stories. Texas Christian University gave me my education, the US Army contributed foreign travel (Germany) to my experience, Colorado gave me my first permanent job before transferring me to Albuquerque. When earning a living monopolized my time, I turned to painting to satisfy a creative urge. Did okay at it, but that craft didn’t scratch the itch I was feeling. Penning short stories seemed to do that. After selling around sixty of them under a pseudonym, I turned to writing novels. Zozobra is the first to see the light of publication, and Bisti is the second. A third BJ Vinson novel, The City of Rocks, is scheduled for release on July 18, 2017. The first draft of a fourth in the series, The Lovely Pines, now rests on my OneDrive.

I do a weekly blog about my writing and recounting some of my personal peccadillos on dontravis.com. I am a member of SouthWest Writers and give back to the community by teaching a free writing class at Albuquerque’s North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center.

Here are some links to me and my writing:

Blog: dontravis.com

Email: dontravis21gmail.com

Facebook: dontravis

Twitter: @dontravis3

Many thanks to Stella and Melanie at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for permitting this guest post. And a tip of the hat to DSP Publications for bringing out the book.

An Ali Review: Moose Fever (Mountain Spirit Mysteries #3) by A.J. Marcus

Rating:   3.5 out of 5 stars
MooseFever-finalColorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Brock Summers and his fiancé, wildlife rehabber Landon Weir, are preparing for their wedding when someone starts killing moose along a creek in the northern part of Teller County. As the moose casualties rise, human bodies turn up, and the case is taken over by the sheriff’s office. When a Forestry Service Ranger is killed, the service joins the hunt. 

All signs point to one of the many photographers who have been taking pictures of the moose. Then Landon discovers a small piece of gold in the creek and they believe they have a motive, but they’re still lacking solid suspects. Bullets fly as they seek to track down the perpetrator while trying to get everything wrapped up in time for their marriage.
Another good installment in this series.  Brock and Landon are entertaining as usual as they try to solve the mystery of who is killing both moose and humans.  The story is fast paced and interesting.  This one also focused on their wedding and their families so there were some really sweet and touching moments in this.  This is the third book in the series and while it could be read out of order you would probably enjoy the romance part better if you had read the previous two books.  I find this author’s writing in this series to be solid and consistent and I really enjoy them.
I liked this cover.  I think it’s a great match to the previous books in the series and it fits the overall feel of the story.

Sales Links: DSP Publications |   Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by DSP Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series: Mountain Spirit Mysteries 

A.J. Marcus Is Here! Talking Moose Fever and Mountain Spirit Mysteries (author guest blog)



Moose Fever (Mountain Spirit Mysteries #3)by A.J. Marcus
SP Publications

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have A.J. Marcus here today to share some thoughts about adventures, writing, and the latest in the Mountain Spirit Mysteries series, Moose Fever.  Welcome, A.J.!


Moose Fever by A.J. Marcus

What is every-day for one is a great adventure for someone else.

There is a fine line for many of us about what makes for an interesting book. I think that’s one of the really cool things about writing; trying to find that line for readers and pushing them over it. Since I tend to write a wide variety of genres, my beta readers are also fairly diverse and sometimes they don’t get certain genres. My mystery/thriller series Mountain Spirit Mysteries is one that confuses a couple of them since they don’t normally read thrillers. But even though the books are outside their comfortable genres, my betas enjoy the series and a couple of them actually get excited about another Brock and Landon book before they even read it.

I draw a lot of what I put into the books from life, either my adventures, exploits of my friends, stories I’ve had told to me by various people I meet, or the news. Often an entire book is a mix of things. That is very true for “Moose Fever”. I took a bit of the news, snippets of things a friend of mine, who happens to be a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager, told me without saying too much about the people involved. I asked my father-in-law a lot about gold prospecting in the local creeks. And I threw in some of my own animal encounters from back when I was helping out at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Now readers get to figure out which parts are what.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what part of a book is really from an author’s own life experiences, and what part is just things they’ve read online or in books. When we actually go out and interview people, we can get some of the excitement they feel about their subjects. That thrill, often comes through when we do our job right. I hope I convey things well and folks get a good feeling for our natural world as we follow Brock and Landon along on their adventure to discover who’s killing the moose of Teller County and why, all while they’re trying to get ready for their wedding. In “Moose Fever” we get a bit of family drama along with the excitement of bullets flying and Brock and Landon’s enduring love for each other that readers have come to expect from the Mountain Spirit Mysteries.


Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Brock Summers and his fiancé, wildlife rehabber Landon Weir, are preparing for their wedding when someone starts killing moose along a creek in the northern part of Teller County. As the moose casualties rise, human bodies turn up, and the case is taken over by the sheriff’s office. When a Forestry Service Ranger is killed, the service joins the hunt.

All signs point to one of the many photographers who have been taking pictures of the moose. Then Landon discovers a small piece of gold in the creek and they believe they have a motive, but they’re still lacking solid suspects. Bullets fly as they seek to track down the perpetrator while trying to get everything wrapped up in time for their marriage.

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Landon cuddled in tighter to him. “Something’s wrong. More than just finding a human body. What’s going on?”

A long, slow sigh escaped Brock. “I talked to Mom today.”

“Okay. When are they arriving for the wedding? I don’t know how much space we can make here for everyone, but I want your folks and my folks at least to stay with us.”

“About that. Mom’s not real sure they’re going to make it.”

Landon sat up and looked at Brock, not bothering to hide the shock that coursed through him. “What do you mean, they aren’t real sure they’re going to make it? Is someone sick? I thought you said they were fine.”

“They are.” Brock sounded miserable. “Mom’s worried about what my grandmother is going to say. I told you a while back that they’re fairly old-fashioned. She doesn’t want to upset them by saying the whole family’s coming. She was thinking it would just be better if they all stayed home in Tennessee.”

“Stay home in Tennessee?” Landon hugged Brock tightly. “How do you feel about it?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to disappoint you. You’re all excited about our families meeting and having a nice, happy wedding. I’m not sure that’s going to happen.” He paused and paled. “Well, at least the families meeting. We’re going to have a nice, happy wedding. I’ve told you I’m not real close with my family. Most of it’s because they don’t believe in who I am.”

Landon didn’t let go of Brock. He wanted to show his love in the face of Brock’s family’s absence. “Well, I don’t care about that. Do you really want your folks here?”

A faraway look crossed Brock’s face. He nodded. “I do. I’ve had this hope ever since we moved in together that maybe, if they could meet you and see what an awesome guy you are, maybe they could set aside some of their prejudices and be happy with who I am and not just who they want me to be.”

“Then we’ll do what we can to convince them to come to the wedding. Maybe if your folks like me, they can get your grandparents to come around too.” Landon did his best to sound hopeful and upbeat. “The world’s changing. Who knows what will happen?”

“You’re not mad that they might not come?”

Landon shook his head and kissed the hollow of Brock’s neck. “I can’t be mad at you for something like that. I’m a bit frustrated with your folks for upsetting you, but not at you. You don’t have any control over it. You should know that.”

Brock combed his fingers through Landon’s hair. “I should, but sometimes folks get upset about things others have no control over. It’s nice to know you’re logical about this. I love you.”

“I love you too. Brock, we’re going to be married soon. I want everyone to be happy for us. If your family can’t be, we’ll understand and let my family and our friends spread the joy for us.”


About the Author

A.J. Marcus

A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive husband. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding, or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer. Don’t get him started talking about his birds, because he won’t stop for a while.

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