Bakersfield Boys Club: Old Murders Inspire a New Thriller

Feb 22, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Anne Da Vigo

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Bakersfield Boys Club and a link to purchase it.

Forty-two years ago, a gardener working in a Bakersfield back yard spotted blood creeping under his client’s door. Police discovered the beaten and stabbed body of Tommy Tarver, owner of an exclusive beauty salon.

Investigation revealed that Tarver led a sordid secret life, sexually abusing a thirteen-year-old boy. Law enforcement knew him; his alcoholic mother had pushed him into prostitution. He’d been an early suspect, but eventually police arrested a college student passing through town.

As reporter for the local paper, I covered the trial. The collegian was found guilty of burglary but acquitted of murder. The boy never testified although he may have attended an all-male party at Tarver’s that night.

Questions gnawed at me. Why wasn’t the boy called to the stand? Why hadn’t child services rescued him from exploitation?

I never met the boy, but always remembered him.

The Tarver murder was the beginning of a decades-long scandal—sex trafficking, cover-ups, and murders involving vulnerable boys and their abusers.

Local lore dubbed the men the Lords of Bakersfield. They included a police commissioner, a county personnel director, a state assemblyman’s campaign director, and the executive newspaper editor who’d hired me.

Soon after the trial, I left Bakersfield, continuing my journalism career in Sacramento. Three years later, a former colleague called. In the intervening years, the boy had been passed around among the Lords. Now, he and a friend had killed a man who threatened them if they didn’t have sex with him.

The boy was tried and convicted. His sentence: thirty years to life.

I was filled with sorrow. Could I have followed up on the case more aggressively? His story became personal. I had to write Bakersfield Boys Club, the story of a struggle against abuse of power.

In real life, more youths would strike back. Victims included a millionaire businessman and a wealthy attorney, among others, but many Lords never faced charges.

The Lords murders ended in 2001 when a distraught father murdered the assistant district attorney. The parent hated the prosecutor, convinced his son’s drug addiction had been enabled by the prosecutor’s obsessive control.

Bakersfield Boys Club creates Suzanne, a widow, who discovers the body of her stabbed and beaten neighbor. While at the scene, she conceals evidence her teenage son Danny may have attended the all-male party that night.

The investigation targets Danny until members of The Club shield him to hide their secrets. As more murders occur, he becomes a victim of exploitation by men whose power gives them immunity.

Suzanne meets the father of a teen murdered at a club party. They collaborate to shatter the group’s stranglehold. She puts everything at stake—home, job, and love—to save Danny.

What happened to the real boy from long ago?

As Bakersfield Boys Club neared publication, he was paroled after thirty-eight years in prison.

To enter to win a copy of Bakersfield Boys Club, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “boys,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 29, 2020. Only US entries and you must be at least 18 to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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Anne Da Vigo is a long-time California journalist and author of a previous thriller, Thread of Gold. Bakersfield Boys Club is available from Amazon or on order from your bookseller.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  2. Sounds like an important story. Count me in!

  3. This sounds like a tantalizing read. Sign me up for the drawing!

  4. This storyline sounds both intriguing and captivating! I’d love to read it! Thank you for the chance.

  5. New author to me. Thanks for the chance.

  6. We have a winner!

  7. Disappointed that the real story didn’t come out. Always a work of fiction. Why? Because half of the child molesters involved are in law enforcement or attorneys. Several were judges. The #1 guy in charge was the District Attorney. What do you do when those in charge of the legal system are corrupt? You leave town. Or die.


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