Missing the Bad Guy in Our Book 4 Thriller Novel

We did it and I’ve felt the sting of loss for some time. So has Lon, even though he has nerves of steel and is more hardened by life’s experiences than me.

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Loss is hard but at least in our Tom Stone Book 4 we’re referring back to the life of Anthony Angelino.

Killing off a bad guy that you kind of like isn’t an easy decision. He had likable qualities as noted by this reviewer:

I know that Anthony Angelino was a bad guy, BUT he was misunderstood most of the book. He was the sort of character that can open this marijuana dispensary to help the medical needs of sick people and then get caught up inside a nasty world. I loved him and even though he was walking a fine line, I found him very endearing! — Reading Renee, review of Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

We saw some growth in this wanna-be drug lord from Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas where he appeared a silent man, slipping in and out of the scene, escaping from problems.

But in Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights, he decided to take a stand in his career and open a legal marijuana dispensary in East Hollywood. The mob couldn’t scare him and neither could Detective Stone who was in pursuit of justice and suspected Angelino wasn’t just selling pot, especially after Stone caught his teenage daughter inside the store:

[Stone] rocked on his heels. “You only got legal pot in here?”

“Medicinal cannabis.” Angelino spit the words in an effort to control his temper. 

“Bullshit.” Stone opened two desk drawers and spotted a bag of organic dog food. 

“Where’s the search warrant, Detective?” growled Angelino.

Stone didn’t listen. “You did it with candy. What else can you do it with?” He turned inside the tight space and knocked papers off the desk. He then headed to the back of the store. “What’s all this shit?” He swiped his hands along the counter and a few jars of products crashed to the floor. 

Angelino yelled out. “What the hell, asshole?” He wanted to punch Stone but held his fury in check. “I’ll bill the city for this.”

Angelino was one of those people who had ideas and big dreams but he couldn’t make things turn out the way he wanted them to. Something always went wrong as we finally saw in Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

We tip our hats to quite a character that we created and enjoyed, glad that future readers will find him and hopefully find him as endearing as we did.

Stay up to date as we work on our 4th novel –we haven’t released the title just yet. But will. 

When you join our readers group, you’ll get a free chapter from Tom Stone: Day of the Dead and our short story for free.

Click here and stay up to date. You never know what you might hear. 

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Day of the Dead and the thriller novel

Ninja turtle costumes and now PJ Mask outfits for pre-schoolers mark the deep dive into autumn and Halloween, but don’t forget Dia de Los Muertos — Day of the Dead — celebrations, a perfect time for a thriller novel, Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

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Co-author Lon Casler Bixby’s photographic rendition of our Tom Stone: Day of the Dead cover

About Day of the Dead Celebrations

Like Halloween with families headed into the streets and shopping malls to collect candy, Day of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd is an extremely social holiday as described in this article from the National Geographic, Top 10 Things to Know About Day of the Dead.

indigenous cultures that preceded the Spanish didn’t want to just mourn the dead. They saw it as a natural phase in life’s journey. Today’s celebrations in Mexico and cities like Los Angeles mix the ancient rituals and beliefs with Catholic traditions.

An excellent website for finding out more about the cultural traditions is available through award-winning author Mary Andrade, Day of the Dead.com. She reveals how celebrations have subtle differences from one part of Mexico to another.

The Maya celebrate Day of the Dead with Hanal Pixán which “means ‘soul’ who gives life to the body. We will relive a millenary tradition with new eyes: ‘We will see that, as you see, I was, as I see, I see!’

Everything starts on October 31st. This day is dedicated to the little ones, the children. An altar must be prepared with a white tablecloth, fruit, traditional candies, desserts, and toys.

The next day is for the adults with tequila and beer while water and salt is used to purify the altar.

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Drugs, violence, women all play a part and with Halloween fast approaching things are starting to get messy. Book review by Jill Burkinshaw

This 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.

We don’t adhere to specific Day of the Dead traditions but one of the passages in the novel that was so much fun to write was this — as the story was reaching its climax on the Santa Monica pier:

Along the pier’s right railing, a street musician crooned into a microphone while passersby tossed coins and dollar bills in to a guitar case. A Mexican flag flapped in the breeze above a vendor’s cart. An older woman draped in wrinkled skin sold sugar candy skulls surrounded by decorative skeletons wearing sombreros. Boys and girls adorned in traditional Mexican clothing prepared to perform their Ballet Folklorico. Day of the Dead was in full bloom. The Santa Monica pier was totally packed, worse than West Hollywood.

Stone moved slowly along the shops while Lightfoot covered the middle and Jake took the railing side with the beach spreading below. Suddenly, a rustle came from a T-shirt vendor at his cart. “Hey!”

Angelino knocked over a postcard rack and darted across the pier like a rat fleeing from a trap.

“Over there.” shouted Jake.

Confusion struck the crowd with gasps and people clutching children. Stone saw Angelino run toward the rides and push through lines. The hot, sugary smell of churros wafted across the deck and filled Stone’s lungs as he ran. Angelino headed toward the rides, passing the rotating Ferris wheel. He looked back quickly and then leaped over a short security fence surrounding the roller coaster.

For us, writing Day of the Dead is also about a new beginning. It’s our first complete storyline in the Tom Stone Detective novels and a new short story, A Deadly Path.

But also, the “bad guy” in the story line that begins in Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas, has some things to teach Detective Tom Stone as we see in the final chapter of Day of the Dead.

Read more on our Crime Books page of this blog.

Here’s a Day of the Dead video that you’ll enjoy. It’s from California Through My Lens and highlights celebrations on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.

 

And if you’re a book reviewer with a review blog, we’ll be glad to send you a complimentary digital copy. Email Don at dsimkovich@gmail.com.

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.”

“Cool.”

“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.”

“Okay.”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.

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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

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.

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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 Geek.wordpress.com 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!

Reader Review Crime Fiction: Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Here’s a reader review for our crime fiction novel Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights. Lon and I enjoy feedback from readers, whether it’s constructive or downright complimentary. Read below:

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Photo by Fabiola Peñalba on Unsplash

REVIEW

Lon,

My internet was down and the good thing about it was, I got uninterrupted reading time. I finished reading Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights and I would like to commend you and Don for a great, awesome, readable and stand-alone book.

Tom Stone Sweltering Summer Nights Cover
Can Angelino escape the mob’s clutches?

I must say that it was not difficult for me to follow the story, considering that I started reading book two first. I like that the story was realistic, bringing about the relevant drug issues and social inequalities that come with it. And I love the details. How drugs morphed into a “user-friendly” facade to get into the hands of the masses. That part I would say is very well researched.

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. He has fears and frustrations of the things he can’t control but tries anyway – to the point of being over-protective. I totally get it.

Tom Stone is one hell of a detective with a big heart. That’s what makes him unique among other detective stories I’ve read.  He has strong family values such as love and compassion – despite his non-traditional setup. Family love is strongly felt in the story.

The promising love interest is not overbearing. I like Alisha. Just the right spice in the story. And I want to know more of Sara in the next book as well. I hope she’s in a better position. I’m a fan of happy endings.

Hazel

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Thanks, Hazel, for your support. If you’ve just come across our Tom Stone Detective stories, you can check them out here:

Visit our Crime Fiction Books page.

Click to the Amazon page for Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights and read a free preview.

Sign-up for our e-newsletter. You’ll be the first to hear about new releases and special discounts as we make them available.

And if you just want to say hi — click on our About page to get in touch with us online.

Oh, yeah, and we’re writing a short story so we’ve got a work-in-progress going on.

Crime Story Book Review: An Innocent Client by Scott Pratt

Scott Pratt’s debut crime novel in 2008

This story is a smash hit by an independent crime author. I was browsing Amazon and I’m not sure how I came across it, but I did, impressed by the volume of positive reviews.

Joe Dillard is a Tennessee lawyer who’s fed up with the system and defending the guilty. But when a preacher is murdered after visiting a strip club, a dancer is accused and Dillard sees his chance to defend—an innocent client.

 

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Cover

The cover is humble and straightforward. Almost bland, but it works. The symbols of justice are clear.

The Characters

People in the story are more important to me than the plot. They have to work together, of course, and Pratt does a fine job of weaving Joe Dillard in and out of the main story defending the dancer, Angel, while being comforted by his wife, nearly losing his life, and tackling cases that he really wants to give up.

The Book Description on Amazon says the dancer is a “beautiful and mysterious woman.” In a way she is. She’s terribly shy and has been terribly hurt in her own past.

The intriguing characters included Erlene Barlow, the owner of the strip club. She was outgoing and caring about her girls. Pratt did well not just painting the dancers with a broad-brush stroke.

Another was Johnny Wayne, a killer who showed no remorse.

A character that bothered my was Junior Tester, the son of the slain preacher. Junior was a prison chaplain and hated how Dillard made his father out to be a hypocrite. Junior did some Bible-sounding quoting but it was nonsensical and just didn’t have truth in it.

The southern disgruntled lawyer is not an easy act to write since an author can give in to stereotypes. Pratt didn’t. He steered it in an entertaining way with believable characters.

The ending portion of the story was terrific.

I look forward to reading Book 2 in the Joe Dillard series.

We also invite you to discover Detective Tom Stone and his pursuit of wanna be drug lord Anthony Angelino. Visit our Books page.