We bring together the best (or worst) of the urban world of Los Angeles and the Dakotas. It’s clear that no matter where you live, crime abounds.
While we love readers who want more Detective Tom Stone novels along with the grit of Los Angeles, we also respect accomplished novelists like CJ Box. His stories Badlands and Paradise Valley have a similar theme to our Tom Stone crime fiction-thriller novels.
It’s part of our month-long Road to Release for Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.
We release the week of October 7
One Shot, One Kill is Book 4 in the Tom Stone Detective stories.
A sniper starts picking off the wicked and wealthy who are funding drug shipments coming into Los Angeles. Detective Tom Stone starts the chase, and in the power vacuum a drug cartel sweeps in to challenge for control.
The cartel’s shot caller is in prison and orders an attack on the estate of mobster Frank DeVito.
Stone suspects DeVito’s involvement in the drug trade but nothing is pinned on him as the sniper is followed and traced.
rolling waves lifting the Jet Ski felt relaxing. Early morning broke from the
east with light finding its way beyond the beach and just starting to touch the
ocean. Only a few walkers, runners, and bikers were on the path—fortunately.
The water was calm like the whole scenario was meant to be. Like God was
smiling down and giving approval.
The battle was going well, according
to plan, and the intelligence gathered was high quality. If you wanted
something done right, you had to do it yourself. A jogger went along the
asphalt trail not seeing the patch that was placed as a marker. Light mingled
with the marine layer and illuminated the area in a diffused haze. But over the
ocean and beyond the breakwater, just enough inky darkness remained as a
water was like a lullaby, soothing arms giving him the freedom to breathe. The
waves rolling toward shore made him feel like he was floating in the clouds. He
researched the spot and time perfectly. Commercial fishing boats toiled farther
out to sea, surfers chased larger waves a mile north, and recreational boaters didn’t
frequent this area.
chambered a round, lifted the rifle, and peered through the scope. A man
entered view. Heavy. Moving slowly. He stopped and knelt to tie his shoe. Too
close to the patch. Keep breathing. Let
it happen. Don’t force it. And
then the man stood and went on his way. He looked at the time and as another
minute ticked past, he wondered. Would it happen this morning? Such a
several minutes more and he’d have had to abandon the post since the light was
spreading. He focused the scope and brought a jogger into view, heading past
the heavy man and going south. Like an answer to prayer there she was. Her long
black hair pulled back in a ponytail. In good shape for a woman entering her
fifties. She made her way down the street from her home in Pacific Palisades
and onto the beach path, her exercise regimen that she described during the
interview in the Wall Street Journal.
Lithe in a sweat suit that conformed to her body. Jogging as her Golden
Retriever ran free several strides ahead. She conducted business from her estate
above the ocean and traveled back to her native Shanghai up to six months a
year. The Journal showed a picture of her recently constructed home in China that
was adorned with two Tibetan Mastiffs who added to the display of wealth.
was the link between the west and the east, overseeing a global shipping
conglomerate, Mingyun Shipping, that transported containers over the oceans. The
Pacific was the busiest route. She inherited the company that was started by
her grandfather and run by her father. She had the fortune of expanding it as
China welcomed western businesses and prospered economically. Hidden in the
ocean-going cargo containers was more than raw materials, consumer goods, and
recyclables. She was a global link in the supply chain and was so adept at
finding new businesses to grow and expand that her holding company was among
the richest in the world.
Palisades was a closed community just north of Santa Monica where the newest
Teslas, Bentleys, and classic Jaguars were common sights. It gave her a sense
of security so that she often jogged alone without the presence of bodyguards.
He dialed her in through the
riflescope and didn’t need to check distance. All was measured and accounted
for in previous trial runs.
Fun crime thriller contest and short story giveaway!
We’re kicking off a month-long launch celebration of our crime thriller Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill by giving away a few cool and neato stories. If you’re a fan of authors like Michael Connelly, CJ Box and LT Vargus then a Tom Stone story is your thing-uh-muh-jiggy.
#1 Your chance to win a signed copy of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead plus Michael Connelly’s Darkness More Than Night in mass paperback.
vantage point from the hillside was clear with the old-fashioned steam
locomotives and box cars from Travel Town directly below. The popular
destination was located along the northwestern area of Griffith Park. It was
one of the few places in Los Angeles that families could go for free and turn
back the clock to an earlier era of transportation. A roadway cut a path
between the local tourist attraction and a well-traveled equestrian path with
riders in jodhpurs and helmets walking and trotting their mounts.
the war on terror started after September Eleven, Two-Thousand and One, then-president
George W. Bush announced that many heroes in the struggle would remain
anonymous and the public would never learn their names.
drugs and ruining men and women financially was just as cruel and evil as a
suicide bomber attacking innocent civilians. The government was failing
miserably in its battle against drugs, and it was necessary to be an anonymous
warrior. Leaving the patch gave a clue that someone was brave enough to battle
it on their own. It took research, lots of it, to identify the responsible
parties for the havoc being wrought on Los Angeles and throughout the United
States, hell—the whole world: needles in the veins, coke snorted up the nose. It
all came down to following the money. Month after month of looking up facts and
figures, following trials of arrested drug dealers, and connecting the dots
revealed each of the players and the fortresses of wealth and luxury that made
them look like upstanding citizens, role models. But their wealth was gained by
poisoning the lives of men and women craving euphoria.
why there was no mistaking the rider in the teal tank top, brown leggings, and
dark helmet who was riding English saddle with two other women.
A grizzly notion for me, an indie author crime novelist, and one that turned my insides as I considered it but Lon insisted. The gang members we portray in our thriller novel Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill must have tattoos. And not just on their arms and chests.
We’ll soon release our Book 4 novel in the Tom Stone Detective story series and you’ll see a notorious gang rolling into the picture. Read the excerpt below.
Want to get a taste of our writing? Scroll down for an excerpt from One Shot, One Kill and you can also get our short story, A Deadly Path, for free! As indie crime authors, we enjoy giving our readers the chill-zees.
We didn’t model them after any one gang in particular and not exactly MS-13 but that gang does indeed exist around the U.S. and in Los Angeles.
The initials stand for Mara Salvatrucha and their members are primarily of El Salvadoran descent. The gang started in Los Angeles but has now spread throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
MS-13 is well-known around Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt from our novel that sheds light on the gang and drug-cartel violence we see in LA. Below the excerpt are a couple of reports on MS-13 and a video from a Ted Talk on how a MS-13 member left the gang.
EXCERPT TOM STONE ONE SHOT, ONE KILL
Arturo watched the man put down the phone. Slimy was the name Arturo had given
him. Slimy called over to another gangbanger, Javier, who was staggering and
fondling a woman in tight shorts and a T-shirt. “She ain’t picking up.”
Javier, sporting a new tattoo and unsteady
from too many tequila shots, glanced in Arturo’s direction. “We’ll decide what
to do with him. We don’t need her approval for every little thing.”
“You don’t touch him. Not yet
anyway.” Slimy took a syringe, getting ready for a nice hit. He just looked
greasy with a partially balding head that he kept oiled.
pulsed through the warehouse. The party started about eleven P.M. and kept
going. Bare-chested thugs and plenty of women clacking about in high heels
grinded against each other under the faint light and in the darkened corners. They
were stupid women, thought Arturo, throwing their lives away for chances to be thots in the arms of bad-ass boys. Booze
and drugs kept them high and chased away reality.
watched a good dozen or so foot soldiers aligned with Ojos Negros make their
way in and out of the warehouse. Slimy had caught him trying to call Alisha.
what Lil’ Jo told me to do.” Arturo protested. “Call and threaten her.”
wasn’t buying it. “But that’s not what the fuck you were doing.” He growled as
he watched the others take two gang members they accused of snitching, and
chained them to a rafter like animals about to be slaughtered. They took their
knives, teasing the victims with sharp pokes up and down their torsos, and then
slowly cutting them open, giving them time to scream with each slice. Younger
gang members took their turns cutting, almost like an initiation ritual.
never imagined that life could get so sickening and he longed to be back in
Zacatecas watching his children go to school and embracing his wife. Regret took
him months back and flooded him with guilt for not having stopped Anthony
Angelino from smuggling cocaine. He silently begged God’s forgiveness and vowed
to make right. Slimy injected himself and sunk into a drugged state while men
with black eyes explored the women who gyrated and moved to the beats
reverberating off the concrete walls.
The smell of weed filled the hazy room, beer cans and liquor bottles clattered on the floor as they fell empty and an open door beckoned Arturo. At this moment, who would notice? His cot was against a far wall but that didn’t concern his captors, the pendejos. They were steamrolling their way to power, crushing everyone, and now they were celebrating. The party intensified and couples stumbled toward bedrooms made from makeshift partitions. Javier was nowhere to be seen. Arturo scooped a bottle of Hennessy off the floor and wandered into the crowd.
NEWS ON MS-13
The Feds arrested 21 MS-13 members in May and was the largest action taken against the gang. Read the story here in the LA Daily News.
And in suburban Panorama City in the San Fernando Valley, MS-13 members beat and dismembered the body of a high school student. The school wouldn’t say a thing about the killing, according to a July 2019 report in the LA Times.
Tough stuff, huh? But let’s be thankful for the people who fight to keep us safe. And that’s at the heart of our Tom Stone Detective stories.
Stay tuned for the release. Join our reading group and get notified of freebie stuff and discounts you’ll love.
So if you’re searching around for the best in indie author crime stories, give us a look.
Recent gang killings in Mexico show the brutal nature of drug cartels and gangs fighting for power–and brings reality to our upcoming novel Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.
A news report relayed via Fox 11 says that in the state of Michoacán, “nine bodies were found in the city of Uruapán hanging from an overpass. Seven other bodies were chopped up and dumped on the road, with three additional bodies hacked up and left further down the road.”
Women were among the victims and were treated as terribly as the men.
Mexican authorities have called it “theatrical violence” that’s meant to intimidate and subdue rivals.
Even though our Tom Stone novels are adventure-thrillers, Lon and I don’t like dwelling on it and yet we also can’t ignore it. A brutal reality exists but rather than glorify it, Detective Tom Stone and his friends work through it to protect Los Angeles.
Arturo lifted his head as
a sack was roughly pulled off of it. He sat on a chair in the middle of a
vacant warehouse, wrists bound behind him. His bruised, battered, and bloodied
lips stung every time he inhaled, and his eyes, beaten black and blue, were
nearly swollen shut. His ribs ached and made taking deep breaths excruciating. He
tried to look at his surroundings, but every movement was painful.
heavily accented voice welcomed him back to consciousness. “Finally awake, pendejo.” It was a statement, not a
“Where am I? Where’s Marta?”
couple of men stepped into view. Almost every square inch of their skin was
covered in tattoos. Foot soldiers from some Mexican drug cartel.
the fuck are you?” moaned Arturo.
One of the men leaned in close, eye to eye. The whites of
his eyes were tattooed black. Ojos Negros.
Black Eyes. The newest and one of the most violent cartels fighting for control
of the drug trade in South America, Mexico, and now the U.S.
Arturo knew he was dead. “Am I such a big shot that Ojos Negros sends a couple of errand
boys for me? What the fuck?”
The foot solider smiled with amusement and stepped back
as the other black-eyed man dialed a smartphone.
“Someone wants to talk to you.”
“Kind of hard for me to hold a phone right now,” quipped
The black-eyed man listened while the phone rang, then spoke
into it. “He’s awake.”
He waited a moment, then
switched the call to video, and held the screen in front of Arturo’s face. Arturo was shocked. Lil’ Jo, wearing an
orange jumpsuit and sporting her usual close-cropped hair, was staring back at
What the hell? “Lil’
dias. How was your trip? Did you enjoy the plane ride?” She smiled and spoke
casually as if they were just two friends sitting down for a meal. Behind her
were the starkly colored walls of a cell. California state prison. Tattoos ran
from beneath her sleeves, along her toned biceps, and down to her wrists.
“What going on? Where’s Marta? My kids?”
“Yeah, I heard you got married. Thanks for the invite to
the wedding, which I never got. And you’re going to be a Papa. Congratulations.”
She laced with her voice with compassionate-sounding sarcasm. “Arturo, you look
“I swear to God, if you’ve hurt Marta—”
Her toned changed. “What? What are you going to do? I
don’t think you can do anything right now. So you should just shut the fuck up
and listen.” She spoke to the black-eyed man. “Javier, we’re old friends here. Cut
him loose and let him hold the phone.”
Her orders were followed without question as the man
brandished a box cutter and slit the zip ties that bit into Arturo’s wrists. He
rubbed the soreness from them as he took the phone. He started to stand and
stretch his muscles, but Javier pushed him back onto the chair. Arturo looked
closely at the screen and saw Lil’ Jo reclining on her bunk.
“Did you do all of this? And where the fuck am I?”
“Look around. Don’t recognize the place?” asked Lil’ Jo
in mock surprise. “Maybe that’s because you never showed up there like you were
Arturo thought about it. “Santa Monica?” So this was her
“You got it. Welcome to America, vato. Yeah, that’s the warehouse that you were supposed to deliver
the coke to. But instead, for some reason you double-crossed us. Did you know
that the pendejo that Angel was
dealing with turned out to be a DEA agent?”
Arturo fought a sick feeling in his stomach.
“Now Angel’s dead and I’m in prison, although, as you can
see, I’m making the best of it.” She scanned with her phone and showed bags of
chips, butts of cigarettes, and books with torn covers. “I got food and books,
what else do I need? Oh, hold on.” She smiled, reached under a corner of her
bunk’s mattress and pulled out a familiar looking bag. “I even got a little
King Moses OG Kush. This stuff’s getting harder and harder to find.”
“You can’t leave home without it, can you?”
opened the plastic baggie and inhaled. “Why would I want to?”
I would have come here that night,” protested Arturo, “I’d probably be in
prison or dead, too.”
“Oh, no. You would have surrendered right away to save
your sorry ass. You still might get dead. That depends on you. And the only
reason that you’re still breathing is because we’re friends. You’re my homeboy,
bro. And even though I’m in here and you’re living your life, helping kids, and
“Don’t look so surprised,” Lil’ Jo continued “I know all about you. I do have to say that what you pulled off was brilliant. Really? Never thought you could do something like that – didn’t know you were that smart, or maybe you’re just really stupid. That’s yet to be determined. But I’m pissed off at you about it, too. Why didn’t you tell me? We could have done it together and got even more coke. I didn’t give a shit about that little pendejo, Angel. Arturo, we been homies since we were kids, dawg. Why you do me like that? It hurt worse than getting shot and ending up in here.”
You’ve heard about the homeless situation in LA, no doubt. If you’ve visited or live here then you’ve either seen the depth of the situation or you pass by it nearly every day. One of the most challenging locations to drive past is along Alvarado Street beneath the 101 freeway overpass.
It’s heartbreaking, just like many of the social ills that strike us.
But the homeless situation isn’t the main reason that Los Angeles is such a great city for crime fiction. I write about it in this article that I posted on Medium.com:
Now, enjoy this excerpt from Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill — releasing oh-so-soon!
EXCERPT — FROM OUR UPCOMING TOM STONE: ONE SHOT, ONE KILL
was a real beauty with her red hair flowing from beneath the dark velvet helmet
and contrasting with the soft teal of her clothing. Wonderful.
quiet euphoria took hold, as pleasurable as relaxing by a mountain lake and all
it took was breathing in—and out—sensing the moment like a conductor of an
orchestra. He focused so deeply that the sounds of traffic on the street and
freeway faded into quiet. The only sound he heard was the slow beating of his
heart as she pulled into view a few hundred yards below. He squeezed the
trigger and within a split second the exact position where her body was on the
horse vanished beneath a splash of red.
screams didn’t happen instantly. They almost never did. A surprise shot took
several seconds for reality to awaken the bystanders. How perfect. His camouflage
shirt and khakis blended in with the trail of scrub brush while the boulders
acted like a wall of concrete, making for an easy getaway. The screaming
started and then was drowned out by the noise of the 101 Freeway. It was
tempting to want to stay and watch the riders jumping off their steeds and
wailing for their mortally wounded friend. That was a luxury and there was no
time. Not now. Not in war. A battle by an anonymous lone soldier was going to achieve
what corrupt law enforcement failed to do.
was no way to launch a full-scale attack with an actual army, so surgical
strikes would have to do, picking off the leaders one-by-one—the wealth
creators. As each one crumpled and died, there would be fewer investments made
to bring the shipments into Los Angeles and up the coast. Little by little the cartels
would get the message.
Clickity clack … what other sounds does a keyboard make? I start typing, finish several pages and send them off to Lon. He reads, makes notes and sends them back. Pssst, near the end of this post is a great way to get a story for free and we have an excerpt from Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.
Writing the Tom Stone Detective Series with him has the look of a traditional writer-editor relationship where we discuss an idea or approach, I write it up, and he puts in his comments.
During our revision round, we’ll get together in person or, lately, use the Facebook messenger app and I’ll read, while he listens and we incorporate edits and smooth out rough patches.
Collaborating on creative work isn’t easy, just like any business partnership has its troubles. But this relationship has worked well for us and it’s resulted in a short story, three novels, and our fourth novel Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.