Sunday, November 12, 2017

How a Trip to Peru Inspired a Novel: The Lost City of the Condor

Our Trip to Peru to Find Inspiration for The Lost City of the Condor

To research our novel The Lost City of the Condor, Loretta and I were fortunate to have taken a trip to Peru. We both wanted most of all to see  Machu Picchu, the fabulous city of the Inca and walk the Inca trail.

Lima, Cuzco, and the Weavers of Peru 

We began our journey in Lima, Peru.  Though it was summer, that night it got so cold we thought we would freeze.  We started hunting for blankets and begged the hotel manager for a plug-in electric heater, which saved our lives.  The city is big and modern, with many parks and flowers and monuments.  It is known for its world-famous gold museum.

 Shortly after, we started out by plane for the little city of Cuzco (often spelled Cusco) This is a beautiful place high up in the mountains, so high that the elevation is over 11,000 feet.  We met with our guide, Washington, and a group of travelers.  Every day, we had to drink plenty of water and coca tea, which helps with the dizziness and light-headedness that comes with higher elevation.

In the course of our travels we met  many of the local Peruvians.  In the little town of Chinchero, we learned about the expert weavers.  They make beautiful rugs and other woven goods from the wool of the alpaca.  The weavers have their unique designs and symbols that have been handed down through generations.

Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail

A train took us high up in the mountains to the ruins of Machu Picchu. If a person sees one thing in their lifetime, it should be this sight.  The ruins, half hidden by misty clouds are breathtaking.  We rose one morning early and walked the Inca trail.  This is quite a feat at that elevation, as the thinness of the air makes the step heavy and leaves climbers gasping for breath. But we made it!

 Capacocha Burials

Before starting on the trip I had read about the perfectly-preserved frozen mummy of a young girl who was found in the Andes  mountains who had been sacrificed to the gods by the Incas.  The scientists named her Juanita  This was years ago, and since then other sacrifices have also been found.  We learned that buried alongside these rare graves high in the Andes are often rare treasures of gold.  When our heroine, Arla, learns that the site is about to be plundered, she begins a race against time to find and preserve the burial and its contents.  Though we did not climb the Andes ourselves, we did extensive research to see how the climb is accomplished.

With all that we had discovered, we decided to write a fiction story based around our heroine, archaeologist Arla Vaughn, who learns of a lost city similar to Machu Picchu hidden deep in the jungle, and who follows the trail to a rare burial high up in the Andes.  Of course, she's not the only one who knows about this treasure.  Ruthless criminals follow, trailing her, watching for any clue that will lead them first to the rare site and the treasure they seek--the golden condor!

About our Archaeology Books and Series

Loretta and I enjoy writing books about archaeology and rare treasures.  Our Ardis Cole series features Ardis Cole, who travels the world and solves mysteries that center around ancient tombs and other sites.

Our Arla Vaugh Pre-Columbian Treasure series concentrates on the special treasures of Mesoamerica. The Lost City of the Condor, with its concentration on the Inca,  is the second book in the series.  A companion book with the same character, The Mayan Mask of Death, takes place in Honduras.  Another book, concerning an Azetec treasure, is planned for the future.

The Lost City of the Condor was a 2013 Reader's Favorite Finalist in Adventure.

Click this Amazon Link to Purchase The Lost City of the Condor

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New! Watch Trailers of our Books on our new Youtube Channel!

Check out our new YouTube Channel Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson Mystery Writers where you can see trailers of books in the High Country Mystery Series, the Ardis Cole Series, and single titles! 

Visit our YouTube Channel

Our most popular video so far is The Mayan Mask of Death .  This book is part of our new Arla Vaughn Pre-Columbian Treasure series.  There are two books in the series so far, and we are planning a third one.  The second book in the series is the LOST CITY OF THE CONDOR.

Amazon purchase Link: The Mayan Mask of Death

Amazon purchase Link: The Lost City of the Condor


From the High Country Mystery Series, we have a trailer of WHISPERS OF THE STONES, CRYING WOMAN BRIDGE, and AN ICY DEATH.


From the Ardis Cole Series, we have added a trailer of our newest release, THE PIRATED EMERALD. 


Just in time for Halloween, we have Mrs. Jingles and other Tales of Suspense, which is available on Smashwords.  We also have two thrillers from Untreed Reads THREE TO DIE and DEATHBLOW.

We hope to see you on YouTube. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when we put up more trailers!


Friday, July 21, 2017



Sheriff Jeff McQuede becomes suspicious when a robber breaks into the Coal County Museum and steals only one item - a black-and-white class photograph. Under the name Jerome Slade the photographer had printed two ominous words: never graduated.  When a body is unearthed beneath the newly demolished school, McQuede realizes Slade had not left Black Mountain the night of the spring dance. McQuede soon uncovers hidden rivalries between Slade and his classmates. When he discovers that Heather Kenwell and the woman of his dreams, Loris Conner, were rivals for Slade's affection, McQuede fears finding out the truth.  Theft, blackmail, and another brutal killing lead back to photographs taken by Black Mountain's eccentric photographer, Bruce Fenton. While others see an innocent collection, McQuede sees murder in black and white.

 Murder in Black and White is a mystery following Sheriff Jeff McQuede as the most unusual burglary occurs...a riveting old-school style mystery that is as fun as it is entertaining.  - Midwest Book Review

Purchase Link: Murder in Black and White


 Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds 'Bartering Bill' Garr murdered at his rural antique store. Only one item is missing -- a rare artifact believed to be the Pedro Mummy. First discovered in a cave in Wyoming, the Pedro Mummy was reported missing in the 1950s. Dr. Seth Talbot, newly arrived in town, has put out a fifteen-thousand-dollar reward for any information on the mummy, hoping that modern technology will prove his theory that a tiny race of people actually existed: one the Shoshones call the Nimerigar, or Little People. McQuede is astounded to find the mummy in the trunk of Seth Talbot's car. Talbot swears he;s being set up by rival co-workers -- Dr. Arden Reed, in particular -- who plans to benefit from his research. McQuede suspects the theft of the mummy is a red herring used to cover up the true motive for the crime. The closer he comes to the truth, the deeper McQuede is drawn into an elaborate hoax that threatens his career and places him in grave danger.

If you like a mystery with an interesting location as well as colorful characters, this is the one for you. --Reader's Favorite, Jean Brickell  

Purchase Link:  Whispers of the Stones


The famous Carlo painting Stealer of Horses sells for cash in a small Wyoming town and gallery owner Sheldon Spence gives the $200,000 to his wife, who walks over to the bank to make the deposit...and never returns.  A witness claims to have seen a frightened-looking Susan Spence in a battered old Chevy, speeding out of town. And each succeeding clue reveals a different angle on her disappearance. Sheriff Jeff McQuede begins to wonder if this is more than a simple case of kidnapping and robbery. Was Sheldon involved in Susan's disappearance? Or did Susan and a lover fake the scheme, planning to run off with the money they stole from Sheldon? The identity of a victim found shot behind the wheel of the Chevy holds the key to one ominous question: Is Susan Spence a kidnap victim-or is she part of some sinister ploy?

"A tremendous story that is on par with the best mysteries available on the market..."
Nicola Davies for Readers Favorite

Purchase Link:  Stealer of Horses   


An ominous black hood, a murdered judge.   When Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds Durmont's highly respected judge, Phil Grayson, bludgeoned to death in his study, a black executioner's hood shoved over his head, he faces his toughest case yet.  The judge has many enemies, including Darin Keefe, sentenced by Grayson and just released from prison. McQuede soon finds out that Keefe's case is linked to a city scandal that may involve Grayson. Seven years ago the judge's best friend, John Harwood, was believed to have taken a bribe from Keefe Construction and to have committed suicide rather than face conviction.  Had Keefe, taking the fall, left prison intent on revenge?   Or is the the judge's murder the result of a robbery gone wrong? Grayson died surrounded by his fabulous Old West outlaw collection, including a death mask, a famous Peacemaker, and other rare artifacts. The intruder could have been after some unknown item of great value.   Is the judge's murder a simple burglary gone wrong or a case of modern-day vigilante justice?

McQuede is a character that would make anybody feel safe and secure. Barry Dawson, is a good friend but you'd just want to smack him for being careless with his life. The Judge? He, like everyone else, was a mixture of good and bad--the question is, which got him killed?
 Sandra Murphy-- King's River Life Magazine

Purchase Link: The Executioner's Hood


 In the heart of a raging blizzard Sheriff Jeff McQuede discovers a woman frozen to death in her car. At first he believes her death to be an unfortunate accident--until he finds clues that point to cold-blooded murder. Margaret's husband, Arthur, left her in the stalled vehicle to brave the storm and manages to reach Joe Trevino's isolated ranch. The case becomes more complicated because of the recent warehouse robberies at Trevino's store. McQueede finds that Trevino is Margaret Burnell's business partner, and that she has traveled from their Casper store to conduct a company audit. In addition, Margaret has planned to meet with her only child, a run-away daughter she hasn't seen in years. Trevino, the missing daughter, and Arthur Burnell would all profit financially from Margaret's demise. Has a relentless killer tracked and sabotaged the Burnells, or did Arthur simply abandon his wife for his share of the money, leaving her to die an icy death?

I loved the setting in An Icy Death...The cold, brutal Wyoming winter is the perfect setting for a book that you want to curl up in front of the fire with and never stop reading...  I also liked the fact that no one w as ever sure that the murder was really a murder. At first, it appeared to be a tragic accident. ... Was the husband at fault? Or was this a simple act of ugly nature? Nice job!  Janelle Fila --Readers' Favorite

Purchase Link:  An Icy Death 


While returning from Professor Dawson's lecture on haunted places, the last thing Sheriff Jeff McQuede and Dawson expect to encounter is a terrified woman clinging to the railing of Mirabella's Bridge, crying for her lost baby. It looks as if Rae Harris has thrown the infant over the bridge in a fit of despair, but she claims he has been stolen by a ghostly figure she calls Mirabella. Similar to the La Llorona legend Dawson just spoke about, Mirabella was a local pioneer woman who was rumored to have drowned her infant after being abandoned by a lover. At first McQuede believes Rae was driven by madness, but he soon finds evidence that her story may be true, and the perfectly timed kidnapping of her child may be in some way related to lecture attendee and local celebrity, Jim Royce, and his vast fortune.

"My favorite book in the series" 
In a crime that mirrors the haunting legend of Mirabella, a 'crying woman' whose story is a variation of the legend of La Llorona, a babe goes missing and the distraught mother claims a ghost has stolen him away. Despite roadblock after roadblock, Sheriff McQuede doggedly pursues the truth, not believing that a legend has come to life...  Lillie Amman, Reviewer

Purchase Link:  Crying Woman Bridge 


Threatened victim, waiting grave…Sheriff McQuede is called to the cemetery by Ben Ward, a member of Durmont's Good Old Boys' Club. Ward's tombstone, where he plans someday to be buried with his first wife, is vandalized. A menacing date of death, fast approaching, has been drilled into the stone, and splotches of red paint drips over it like blood. Ben Ward and his four partners have sunk vast sums of money into a recreational community, Pleasant Valley Retreat, and this failing project has flamed anger among the investors. As the inscribed date of Ward's death draws nearer, a killer stalks the resort. McQuede must act quickly before a vandal's threats turn into reality.

"An excellent story that starts with a unused tombstone being vandalized. Murder follows as a Ponzi scheme is uncovered by the sheriff on the eve of his wedding. Fans of C.J. Box will enjoy this modern day Western series by a pair of sisters. This was a free review copy in PDF format provided by the authors. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series as once I started the story was difficult to put down.--5 star Goodreads review-- Fredrick Danysh 

Purchase Link: Murder and the Good Old Boys' Club

A DEAL ON A HANDSHAKE:  A Collection of Seven Jeff McQuede Short Stories

In these seven mysteries Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds himself in the middle of a deal made on a handshake—where the result is murder. Set in the high county of modern-day Wyoming, the deal makers are speculators at an old-time mountain man rendezvous, traders vying over rare Native American pottery, or two family patriarchs pretending to bridge a lifetime of feuding. Throughout McQuede battles his arch-enemy Ruger, who he suspects runs a host of illegal activities, but generally manages to evade McQuede’s traps. In each of these stories McQuede, putting his own life on the line, relentlessly seeks out the dangerous men who have broken trust.

Purchase Link: A Deal on a Handshake

All of our books are available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and as paperbacks through Amazon. 

Look for the eight book in the series, RAPID RIVER HOAX, coming this fall!