Short Story Thriller: A Deadly Path

Nothing wrong with a hike that you want to take with your son … especially when you’re not ephpjqxBlPAMxpecting it to become a short story thriller, joining our growing list of stories you’ll find on our crime books page.

But, alas, that’s what happens when Detective Jake Sharpe pulls his son Darrell away from his video games and takes him on a hike into the foothills above Los Angeles. Along come Tom Stone and Andrew on the jaunt to see a waterfall.

The boys get into some tussles and after Stone leads Andrew on up the path Jake tells Darrell that he knows a shortcut and they can beat Stone and Andrew to the waterfall.

What happens next is what you don’t want to miss in this story inspired by the trails that weave their way into the shadows of the San Gabriel Mountains, where the crevices are perfect for hiding all sorts of surprises.


We’ll be releasing A Deadly Path in a couple of weeks and we wanted you to have the opportunity to enjoy it for free, by signing up for the Tom Stone Detective stories newsletter. Click here on this link and you’ll see a page that looks like this:

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We’ll reveal the cover soon. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt:

Darrell was a good kid. He did his homework, hung out with friends at the mall, and didn’t take drugs. He just had that I-know-everything-and-I-don’t-care attitude, making the gap between Jake and his son about ten times wider than the canyon walls surrounding them.

“Aren’t we there yet?” moaned Darrell. “How much farther?”

“Not too far. Just enjoy it.” Jake undid his pack and pulled out a bag of trail mix. “Want some?”

“No thanks.” Darrell reached in his and grabbed an apple.

“I didn’t bring you here to torture you,” Jake sighed. “I thought we might have a nice time together.”

“Yeah, I know, Dad.” Darrell looked around.

“You guys begged to come here when you were little.” That was another world and another era.

“It’s cool.”

Jake put on his pack. “Glad to hear.”

“It’ll be cool to see the falls,” mumbled Darrell.

Suddenly, Jake had an idea. “Want to have some fun?”

“Sure, whatever.”

“We can beat them to the falls,” said Jake, smiling.

“How? They’re already ahead of us.”

“I know a short cut. It has some steep parts but it’ll save a lot of time.”


“Can you imagine their faces,” laughed Jake, “when they show up, we’re already sitting there?”

“Yeah, that’d be fun. Let’s do it.”


“Hopefully Andy won’t want to look for his stupid gold,” said Darrell.

“Be easy on the kid.”

“He’s just so, you know, retarded.” Darrell wrinkled his face in disgust.

“That’s not nice.” Jake headed up a clearing to his right, squeezing between boulders and on to a little used path.

“I know. He’s just too goofy.” Darrell followed along trying not to scrape against the rocks.

“So were you at his age.”

“No way.”

“He’s doing so much better. Just a couple of years ago he wouldn’t even go to a park.” Jake hurried his pace. “It’s partly his age. It’s partly what happened to him when he was little. But he’s growing up and doing better. Mostly.”

Andrew was a puzzle, one of the many thousands of kids who grew up with abusive families and were then put into foster care group homes. But Stone met him during a Christmas toy drive and decided he’d give him as much exposure to a family as possible.

“You and mom talked about that, huh?”


“Taking in a kid like Andrew.”

“We did. We’ve wanted to help where we can, but our house is full with you guys. I know you can’t understand how good you got it, Darrell.”

They climbed up a steep grade. It was just a few more bends to the falls and Darrell got excited about getting there first and surprising Stone and Andrew. They went down to where the canyon widened into a clearing and several tall trees were clumped together like an oasis.

“Hey, didn’t we go this way when I was a kid?”

Jake agreed. “We actually did. And we all played hide and seek.”

Pop, pop, zing. The sound of a bullet that Jake knew all too well whistled off a rock behind them. “Down.”

“What the—?” Darrell panicked.

Another shot rang out and dust rose just a couple of feet away. Jake scrambled behind a boulder and pulled Darrell with him.


And, in the meantime, we’ve had some fun reviews for our latest novel Tom Stone: Day of the Dead, available on Amazon.

6x9_TS-DOD-FullCoverWrap-151wordsThis is a fast paced page turner with suspense that starts at the beginning and keeps building right to the end. Action all the way through it is a great read.

Tom is the main character and is a dedicated detective determined to get the bad guys and he works well with Jake. He is a friendly man and has a good relationship with his ex wife.

Angel is the opposite but there is something about him that is likeable even though he is someone that definitely shouldn’t be liked.

So what we have here is a fast paced, action packed thriller with well defined complex characters. It is well written and a very gripping read. Highly recommended for readers of Crime Fiction.

Thanks for reading and check back for updates.

Btw, Follow us on Goodreads

Don Simkovich

Lon Casler Bixby


Book Tour: Murder at Midnight by Faith Martin

blog tour banner - Murder at midnight (1)

Author photo

Prolific author Faith Martin is out with another cozy mystery published through Joffe Books. Thanks to Jill Burkinshaw for the ARC.

Murder at Midnight is available on Amazon.

This is the latest in a string of cozy mystery’s featuring DI Hillary Greene, who’s turning 50 and is skilled at solving the cold cases that have others stumped. Felix Olliphant is found dead at a New Year’s Eve party and Hillary takes up the case.

The dialogue flowed well and the characters were quite fun. The story was very easy to get into and had a very fashionable style about it as in this interchange between Hillary and Querida Phelps, a woman who had invited Felix to the party where he had his demise:


‘Did Felix ever say that he was getting threatening phone calls?’ Hillary
continued rapidly.

‘Ah now.’ Querida Phelps waved a finger at Hillary, on which a gigantic

Ceylon sapphire sparkled. ‘Funny you should say that. I did notice once or

twice that he would get phone calls and seem unhappy. He’d take his mobile
into the conservatory and . . . oh, you should see the conservatory and what
he did with it! Hanging wicker basket seats and these huge majolica
jardinieres and seats that . . . Oh, thanks.’ Querida took the refilled glass
from Jake and winked at him. ‘You really are gorgeous, aren’t you?’

‘Yes, I am.’ Jake winked back. ‘Now be a pet and concentrate. These
phone calls. Did you hear the name of whoever it was that made Felix

Hillary, somewhat taken aback at the hijacking of her interview,
nevertheless had to admire the smoothness of the man. No two ways about
it, the Boy Wonder was proving useful.

‘No, sorry. Like I said, when he got this funny look on his face, and I knew it was one of those phone calls, he always took the phone into the conservatory where I couldn’t hear. And afterwards he’d be sort of quiet for a while. Maybe even angry. But he never said what it was about,’ she added, waving another finger at him, ‘so don’t ask me. I wish I knew. You think whoever it was killed him?’ She sounded genuinely distressed now. ‘That’s what’s always been so hard to deal with, you see. I must have invited
whoever it was that killed him.’

And two tears ran down her cheeks. Hillary couldn’t help but compare
this woman’s genuine if slightly drunken grief with Rebecca Morton’s more
self-centred tears.

‘I’m really sorry, Mrs . . . Querida. You were obviously very fond of him.’
‘I was. I never had kids. Four husbands, but none of them . . . Or maybe

it was me. I dunno.’ She’d made good inroads into the new brandy now, and
her upper-crust voice was beginning to slur. ‘But if I’d had a son . . . Oh
well. I suppose that’s why I never sold up this place and left. It still has
echoes of him. Besides, I do love it so. And apart from all that, I mean,
where else would I go? My immediate family are all dead. Oh hell, now I’m
getting maudlin.’

End of Excerpt

I liked the way the tone is naturally comedic, in a very organic way; it has a stylish, classic feel that comes to mind as the characters go about their lives. I strongly recommend it. 5 Stars!


Faith Martin has been writing for over 25 years, in four genres and under four different pen names. She was born in Oxford and sets most of her crime novels within sight of the city of dreaming spires. A real nature lover and afficionado of the countryside, descriptions of wildlife and native flora often find their way into her manuscripts. Right now, JOFFE BOOKS are re-issuing the DI Hillary Greene novels in new updated editions! The first 15 books in the series are available now.

Her romance novels, written under the name of Maxine Barry, are now available from Corazon Books. IMPOSTERS In PARADISE, and HEART OF FIRE are both out, and others will very quickly become available in the future.

Her first foray into writing ‘spooky’ crime, (and written under the pen name of Jessie Daniels) comes out in November 2017. THE LAVENDER LADY CASEFILE is published by Robert Hale, an imprint of Crowood Press.

As Joyce Cato, she writes more classically-inspired ‘proper’ whodunits. So, if you like an amateur sleuth, plenty of clues and red herrings, plus a baffling murder mystery to solve, these are the books for you.

My inmate son is reading a Tom Stone thriller story

He grew up in the foster care system, moving from house to house while his sister came to my wife and I at five weeks of age. M was the oldest of five or more children and was born into a violent family. We didn’t meet him until he was 11 years old and living at a group home facility between Pasadena and Los Angeles. It took a couple of years to gain his trust and see him open up when he came to our house for a visit.

CoverWhen I first started writing what became Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas, I thought of him. M helped shape the character of Andrew in my mind and I appreciate my co-author Lon letting the boy in the story flourish.

He’s now 30 years old and is in a county jail–again, for a parole violation–and voluntarily extended his sentence so he could get some help and have housing available for when he’s released again.

He had been asking for a copy of our Tom Stone stories and I finally remembered to send one. He called me today and had read the first chapter and was telling other guys in his block about the story–with the opening around Christmas time and Detective Tom Stone meeting Andrew, noticing the frenetic way the boy handled himself.

As we talk about social justice and racism in this country, one of the elements that frequently gets left out of the discussion is the importance of family in a child’s life. Sadly, foster care is a path to prison unless dedicated families step in. Det. Tom Stone does that and continues the relationship with Andrew in Book 2 Sweltering Summer Nights and Book 3 Day of the Dead.

We’re writing a short story and will release it soon where Stone also goes hiking into a canyon with Andrew, his detective partner Jake and Jake’s son.

M is excited about finishing the book and it helps pass his time. It also gives him a window on life choices and can alleviate the loneliness and boredom that can be tough.

Perhaps the Tom Stone stories can inspire him to write since he does have a creative talent that I’ve seen expressed. I’ll be interested to know what he thinks of the story.

Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas is available on Amazon, Kobo and iTunes.

Here’s an excerpt where Stone is visiting Andrew and his counselor Luke at the group after the Christmas party.


Stone felt too self-conscious to play like Luke but he moved the dog around on the floor near Andrew. “Do you like dogs, Andrew?”

The boy waited and looked from Stone to Luke and then nodded. “They can be nice.” His face changed and he spoke in an ominous tone. “And they can snarl and bite.” Andrew grabbed the dog and growled in a low voice.

“Do they growl when they’re scared or angry, Andrew?” asked Luke.

Andrew let go of the dog, didn’t say anything for a few moments, and then spoke up. “Dogs run away from home.” Life seemed to vanish from his eyes after he spoke.



Mystery thrillers by C.J. Box, meet Tom Stone detective stories

CJ Box Badlands

If you like the terrific thriller author C.J. Box, then you just might like any of the Tom Stone stories.

The mystery thrillers of best-selling author C.J. Box first came to my attention about four or five years ago and I finally picked one up: Badlands, where a boy in North Dakota stumbles across a car accident and a bundle of cocaine ready to hit the streets.

I’m about halfway through reading and I’m loving the characters plus how the two distinct stories of a Montana detective Cassie, and how she intersects with the boy, Kyle. The writing style is smooth and there’s some wonderful suspicion created early on with the police investigating the wreckage. When you see them later on, when Cassie leaves  Montana for North Dakota and meets them, you got to wonder if they’re part of the good guys or among the bad guys.

What struck me in Badlands were some of the similarities between his novel and our Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Night and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead6x9_TS-DOD-FullCoverWrap-151words

C.J. Box features an at-risk kid who has a drug abusing mother and boyfriend and we feature a kid from a foster care group home.

The killers in his story make a mark on their victims and the killers in our story make a similar mark on the victims. And both stories deal with smuggling cocaine–and the moment the coke is first seen.

In Badlands, the no-good boyfriend sees the quality of coke early on while in Day of the Dead, Anthony Angelino first sees the shipment of cocaine much later on in the story.

What’s remarkable is that urban types of crimes are no longer for the cities. It’s as though the boundaries don’t matter. Small towns or big cities. Urban sprawl or mid-cities bordering rural lands, crime is crime.

Here are excerpts from Badlands and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead:


The canvas duffel bag was unzipped on the dining-room table. T-Lock clicked on the overhead  light so it shone down on the bag. It looked like the bag was being interrogated–like on television–Kyle thought.

T-Lock skirted the table and stood on the other side of it. He plunged both hands inside and came up with a handfuls of small plastic clear glassine baggies the size of a penny. The tiny baggies were filled with crystalline powder that looked like snow crust at the end of winter. The powder was bluish in color.


Angel just wanted the coke and he’d say whatever was needed to pry it loose. “Sure. I can agree to that.”

“Good. Let’s go take a look.” The man laughed and led Angel out of the office. He pointed to a stack of mattresses. “I’ll even give you one to take home if you’d like.”

“I suppose it’ll help me sleep better?”

“And why wouldn’t it? Everything we do is quality.”

The gangbanger followed behind ready for action if needed. The mustached man led Angel to a wall with a large metal door that was padlocked. He pulled a key from his pocket, unlocked it, and slid the door back.

Angel was surprised. “You call that secure?”

“Your coke’s still here, isn’t it?”

“Let’s see.”

The mustached man motioned. “After you.”

Suspicion flooded Angel. “No, after you.”

“All right.” The mustached man and the gangbanger stepped in and Angel followed. There it was. A few pallets in the middle of the room, stacked high with bricks of cocaine sealed in plastic. Angel caught his breath as he realized the value of each one. This is what he had worked for, what he had sacrificed for. It was the only reason he hadn’t tried to kill Amman and take out DeVito earlier.

He went closer and inspected the packages. The logo of the Mexican sugar skull with the blood-red teardrop was stamped on each one, just like the picture that Ronaldo had sent him while he was in prison. He closed his eyes, and in the bittersweet moment, silently thanked his friend.

Tom Stone: Day of the Dead is available from Amazon for Kindle and paperback.

For all Tom Stone Detective Story books, visit our Crime Books page.

Book Review of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead:

I have to admit to developing a soft spot for Detective Tom Stone.  He seems to be the book equivalent of John McClane from the Die Hard movies … The authors have a writing style guaranteed to draw the reader in from the first word on the first page and before you know it you are addicted to the characters and to the story.  That’s what happened to me anyway.  The story definitely hit the ground running and maintained the pace throughout the book. 

Ginger Book Geek

Click here to read more book reviews.

Want to see what we’re up to next???

Got a short story coming out that’s suspenseful and a thriller, dealing with an innocent little hike. Stay in touch with our newsletter. Sign up on this link and you’ll go to a page that looks like this below.

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Crime thriller short story in progress

After launching our crime thriller novel Book 3 Tom Stone Day of the Dead this month, we’re penning a short story that peeks into the dangers lurking in the foothill canyons near Los Angeles. An excerpt is below. Any guesses where this pic was taken? Hint: Don snapped it  near his home, and it’s a favorite spot of his for hiking.

Eaton Canyon flowersJake takes his son Darrell to get outside so the father and son duo walk toward a waterfall (another hint about where the picture was taken, for those of you familiar with the foothills around LA). Tom Stone and Andrew are along for the … fun?


Hmm … It was a fun story to write with the family clash and the surprise in the canyon. It also brings up one of the tougher social topics facing cities like Pasadena (another hint about the picture) and others in So Cal.

It’ll be out soon–of course, we’ll let you know.

Get the word first when you sign up for our enewsletter by clicking here and landing on a page that looks like this —- ok, we’re still perfecting things:

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Enjoy this brief excerpt. For our novels, visit our Crime Ficion Books page.

A hike with just Darrell seemed the perfect thing to do early on a weekday morning in the summer. The trails were empty and this particular canyon had its own natural seclusion. Jake had scheduled time off so he could spend the time with his son and Stone had decided to join along with Andy. The canyon with its fortress-like walls and waterfall spilling into wading pools was a place for adventure. But Darrell was miserable and not even trying to cover over the fact.

Andrew was zigzagging, pulling on tiny tree branches and snapping them, whistling past Darrell’s face.

Darrell waved his hands. “Come on, man.”

“Andy,” Stone beckoned to the boy about fifty more yards up the trail. “Climb the rock with me.” A boulder had a crevice running through it.

“Oh, wow.” Andy shouted and scrambled up the opening.

Darrell stopped and took a breath.

Jake was annoyed. “You tired again?”

“No, I’m not tired again.”

The canyon walls narrowed and they faced a line of boulders that created a blockade on the right. The trail zigzagged left, leading through the stream.

Darrell studied his options. “I don’t want to get my shoes wet.”

Jake looked at his son’s feet. Unbelievable. He was wearing Air Nike’s that were less than two weeks old. Jake and Tasha had agreed to pay half and Darrell, complaining, washed friends and families’ cars to earn the other half.

“I don’t want to wear old shoes.”

Jake wanted to just—but he didn’t. He clenched his jaw. What was it with kids? Or his own kid? “There are times you just got to wear old shoes.”



For free Ch 1 previews of our crime thriller novels click on the titles and go to the Amazon page:

Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas

Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

#BlogTour #BookReview for Day of the Dead by Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby #TomStone #DayoftheDead @Books_n_all @donsimko @LonBixby


BLOG TOUR - Day of the Dead



Multiple murders with one grisly connection have Detectives Tom Stone and Jake Sharpe pursuing every lead.  Their main suspect, Anthony Angelino, fresh out of prison, dreams of building a new empire, but his past quickly catches up to him.  Once again he is on the run from the police and the drug cartel that tried to ruin him.

The head of the cartel, Frank DeVito, tails Stone hoping the Detective’s investigation will flush out Angelino.  Then he can exact his revenge and claim what he says Angelino has stolen – a large shipment of pure cocaine.

Angelino’s girlfriend, Sara, pleads for him to escape the deadly lifestyle.  As the body count rises, Stone confronts the challenges in his relationship with Alisha Davidson, Angelino’s defense attorney.

Halloween dramatically twists into Day of the Dead celebrations…

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Last weekend: 3 Crime Books, $3 Bucks

For August 18 and 19, grab Kindle versions of our 3 Tom Stone books for only $1 each or … let’s do the math together … remember, Lon and I are creative types … $3!!! 

We know you don’t buy on price alone — you want quality, so below we’re sharing positive reviews that have just rolled in.


From a review on Goodreads for Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

The characters are believable ( and I loved his portrayal of Tom Stone, a cop who is divorced but without all the drama you often find in crime books) and the situations are easy to see in your head as you read them. I felt as though a movie was playing and all I had to do was watch!
I would recommend this book to all who enjoy crime fiction.

From a reviewer, Ginger Book on Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

As I took such a shine to Detective Stone, I just had to read on and on to find out what fate had in store for Stone and if he managed to solve the case.  The more I got into the story, the more I read and the quicker the pages turned. 

From a review for Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights (right here on our site)

I like that the story was realistic, bringing about the relevant drug issues and social inequalities that come with it. … I echo Tom Stone’s concern of his daughter having anything to do with drugs. I can relate much there. As a parent myself that is one of my greatest fears – that my daughter will be introduced to drugs. I like that he is very human in that aspect.

From a review on Book 1 Tom Stone: Nitty Gritty Christmas 

I really liked the character of Tom Stone, a veteran LAPD Detective. Flawed but real, he’s trying to learn how to balance life and a career fighting the seedier side of life. With his faith, Tom’s partner Jake Starke, is better balanced, but less driven. Together they make a good team.

The books are also available in paperback.

And, guess what? We’re writing a 4th — a short story — what happens when Jake Sharpe and Tom Stone take their boys hiking? Plenty.

Stay tuned here or sign up for our enewsletter — get in on good deals and special previews!

Check Amazon U.K. for those who live in the land of British mysteries and crime dramas!