Death at La Osa ~ Chapter Release

Wool Festival, Taos, New Mexico, 2019

Hi, there, friends, acquaintances, fellow readers!

I have posted the entirety of Chapter 1 from my novel, Death at La Osa, on my Author’s Page today. Take some time to read it, and when it comes out in paperback, eBook, or other format, reserve a copy. Click the page link on the Home Page and read away!

My objective is to print the novel. How and when the printed copy comes out remains to be seen. I will post updates on this website as to progress on getting Death at La Osa published and possibly an audiobook! “Work in progress,” as it is said.

Reviewers’ Quotes

“Really, really good! This is going to be published, I assure you. You kept the tension going right up to the conclusion.”

“I finished your manuscript two weeks ago–sat and read through it in one weekend. I enjoyed it very much. I was impressed at the way you developed your characters and the way you kept the tension going right up to the very end. I was surprised at how you began the story, but there was really no other way to build the arc without the secretive beginning.” ~ Government Instructor, Texas A&M University at Canyon, Texas

“I’m so impressed, Jack. Truly. Good luck on the Hillerman Award. A worthy submission. This is good stuff!” ~ English Professor, Cisco College, Abilene, Texas

“I reviewed Death at La Osa from a law enforcement perspective. I found no mistakes. I had it on my desk at home, and my wife [international best-selling author] casually picked it up and could not stop reading it. She wants me to tell you, ‘I want to put Jack in touch with my agent.'”

Publication Update

As of late September, I am sending the novel to a first-rate publishing company for review. Most publishing companies have put out news bulletins that they are delayed in printing due to Covid-19 problems. This is not the case for the publishing company to whom I have sent my novel.

I finished Death at La Osa last December 2019, and submitted it for the Tony Hillerman Award. That award has also been delayed in presentation. Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman’s daughter, wrote in Roundup Magazine, August 2020, “No winners were chosen in 2018 or 2019. This year’s verdict awaits.” Covid-19 has been the inhibitor for the Hillerman Award. I have heard a rumor as to who it might be, but that was several months ago.

The Writing of Death at La Osa

My writing of Death at La Osa transpired over a year. I had begun in September 2018, and finished by September 2019, although I continued to edit and get reviews until I turned it over to St. Martin’s Press for the Hillerman Award in late December.

The novel is contemporary mystery and suspense set in northern New Mexico, mostly encircling Taos: the desert mesas, Rio Grande, and the Tusas and Taos Mountains. It is a social interplay of Pueblo, Hispano, and Anglo cultures, the triple-cultures. Within the plot, I weave descriptions of weather, landscape, flora and fauna, and the desert and montane features of New Mexico.

On a forest road to Burned Mountain in the Tusas

The major character is a Tulona Pueblo tribal policeman, Richard Tafoya, and a U.S. Forest Service biology specialist, Janet Rael, an Isleta Puebloan. Other significant characters include the Ortega family, sheepherders and horsepersons; Ben Lovato Medicine Wind, also a Tulonan; and G. Armstrong Coe, owner of a bookshop in Ojo Verde.

The Tulona Pueblo is fictional as is the village of Ojo Verde.

At the heart of the novel is a lost turquoise mine from prehistoric times and a murder victim found on the Tulona Reservation. Tribal policeman Tafoya must find the killer first, then the turquoise mine, not necessarily in that order. The search encompasses a foray to the Navajo Reservation for clues.

Creative Spaces of my Writing

Roman writer Seneca would sit in a crowded bar and write to prove he could concentrate despite the noise and keep his mind on literature and not the “mob.” But that was not always his creative space for he had villas and traveled to other places in the empire. Good for him wherever he wrote! Ah, those quotable Romans, “You never know until you try.” So wrote Publius Syrus.

My writing spaces for Death at La Osa have included bars and restaurants: Pacific Table in Fort Worth and Lambert’s and Alley Cantina in Taos. When you read the published novel, you will find my references to a waiter-ski bum character have verisimilitude because of my “field notes” at bars and restaurants. But I don’t write a lot when there is noise.

The four major places I have written–my creatives spaces–are in my office and library in Fort Worth, the Sagebrush Inn in Taos, a rental house on Witt Road in Taos, and at my daughter’s and son-in-law’s home in Taos on the cottonwood-lined Liebert Street. When I write at the Liebert Street home, I take my printer. Otherwise in Taos, I use the printer services of FedEx on Paseo del Sur.

Second Novel Arroyo of Shells Completed

I turned in Death at La Osa last December for the Hillerman Award, and have now gone on to Plan B for publication at other publishers. Beginning last October 2019, I began writing a second novel involving the same characters as in Death at La Osa. I completed Arroyo of Shells this week, having only final drafts to complete. And, yes, I have ideas for a third and….

Signup for my Author Posts

Please take time to sign up for my regular posts on this website. I’ll write about my sources and contacts that provided me inspiration for both my novels. I know you’ll find it interesting to see how I created the turquoise jewelry scenes and the pueblo ceremonies of the Tulona. Also, how I came by the image of the tribal policeman Tafoya–for only two minutes I saw someone at the Taoseno Restaurant checking out at the counter after breakfast. Then I began writing about that scene; two novels later, here I am, still with that character.

Best wishes,


King’s Manassa turquoise mine located in southern Colorado. Photo by Jack Matthews, 2019.