Our Thriller Book Sale: Four Books, Four Bucks, Four Days

Fans of authors like Lee Child and James Patterson sound the alert: the gripping Tom Stone Detective thriller novels and our action-adventure short story in ebook form are on sale today. Thursday, June 20 through Sunday, June 23 for 99 cents each.

Book 1: Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas

Book 2: Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Book 3: Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

Short story: A Deadly Path

Fans of authors like Angela Marsons, L.T. Vargus and Stewart Giles will want to catch a peek, too.

Get to Know Detective Tom Stone and Friends — join our reading group, just enter your email by clicking here on this page.

About the Tom Stone Detective Stories

Follow the story of Detective Tom Stone and his partner Jake Sharpe chasing a wanna-be drug lord, Anthony Angelino, through the streets of Los Angeles as both men bond with friends and fight the mob.

Angelino wants to be his own boss and book reviews have noted that he’s a sympathetic character as an organized crime syndicate trips him up and takes over his life. His girlfriend desperately wants a way out of the lifestyle and becomes the first person in her family to attend college.

You’ll see the development of friendships while touching on themes like inter-racial relationships, foster care, and parenting teenagers. We take a real-life approach and have quirky characters running around Los Angeles.

Our Work-in-Progress 4th Novel Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill

Our sale comes as we’re in the editing and revising round of our 4th novel Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.

Los Angeles is in chaos as someone is selectively killing the wealthy who finance the shipment and sale of cocaine and other illicit drugs. A cartel sees an opening to take control and overwhelm the police. Tom Stone must find a way to take control when his girlfriend, an accomplished defense attorney, refuses to represent one of the cartel members and her life is at stake.

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EXCERPT 1 for BOOK 4: TOM STONE: ONE SHOT, ONE KILL

The equestrian trail ran parallel and he slowed down when he spotted the wreath, flowers, and candles at the exact spot of the death. The crime scene was described so clinically: on the mount and fell toward the freeway. There was more to it. She would have been looking straight ahead and down the trail with her mind on so many other things. Perhaps business or chatting up her daughter’s schoolwork. The bullet struck without warning and she wouldn’t have had any time to react.

              He jogged on toward Travel Town. The locomotives and old-fashioned passenger cars had school-age boys and girls climbing in and out of them followed by doting moms and dads. No one at the attraction would have even heard the shot. One bullet fired in hiding held such power to change the course of a family’s life, the business dealings of a company, and even the fate of a nation.

EXCERPT 2 for BOOK 4: TOM STONE: ONE SHOT, ONE KILL

Kilbraide set the papers down and thought that money isn’t always a motive. There was something that Stone and Jake didn’t understand. You’re good and have the talent as a sniper and then you train day in and day out until the shot becomes an extension of yourself. Just like it was in the military with wind whipping dirt and sand in your face. You’re not there because you want to make a shitload of money. You’re there to do a job. Get it done. It’s your mission. You dedicate your life at that moment to bringing down the enemy.

Kilbraide picked up the evidence bag from his desk and inside was the patch. One Shot, One Kill. No Remorse. I Decide. The mindset of a sniper. Why should civilian life be different than the military? He thumbed through the numbers and thought two elite individuals are now gone. But in a city the size of Los Angeles, there were still plenty more.

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Thriller Novel Update Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill

Typing the last scene and giving life to the character’s emotions in this thriller novel was satisfying and only now have I fully discovered the story that Lon and I will tackle in our Round of Revisions.

Perched above Los Angeles

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Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill weaves a tale of power struggles and the quest for justice as Detectives Tom Stone and Jake Sharpe along with friends and colleagues fight a cartel invading Los Angeles and what appears to be a lone gunman taking down the cities wealthiest who have ties to the drug trade.

Characters from previous books and new ones — the caring and the evil — come to life in this gripping full-length action-adventure novel.

From the ridges above the Hollywood Hills to the beaches and sprawling Griffith Park the hunt for the killer takes place while an international cartel spreads mayhem and fear.

How can Stone and his team possibly stand against the onslaught of a gang and solve the mystery of a sniper?

Below is an excerpt from Book 4 but in the meantime, check out Books 1 – 3 on Amazon or on our Crime Books page.

Covers for action thriller Tom Stone Detective Stories on Amazon
Racing through the streets of Los Angeles neighborhoods in pursuit of justice.

EXCERPT

The medical examiner called out to them. “Hey, Stone. How you doing? Heard you guys were playing softball. Sorry to interrupt your game but here’s what we got.”

“Mind if I take a look?” asked Stone.

“Go ahead. It’s not pretty.”

Stone pulled the sheet back and Jake took a deep breath. The man’s face was nearly intact except for a hole just above the eyes. A closer look showed the power of what had struck him. The back of the head was missing so that the face was covering nothing. A mess of blood and brains splattered from below the chair to the area behind him.

“Jesus,” whispered Jake. “For once, I’ve lost my appetite.”

“Looks like one bullet. Obviously high caliber,” said the examiner. “A hell of a shot.”

Stone looked at Browell, the color had drained from his face. He acted shaky. “Do you know anything about this guy?”

“So far, just the usual. His name was Charles Scott, aged sixty-four. Was in good shape. Had a lot of money. The wife kept crying out that he was a good man. You might have seen her. She’s inside with their kids and friends.” Browell motioned to the house. “Apparently, Bennington was chairman of his own financial consulting firm.” Browell wiped his forehead. “Was chairman. Damn, that changed fast.”

“Did they know where the shot might have come from?”

“No, this place is secure. Like its own little fortress on a hillside.” Browell inhaled. “Hey, do you guys mind if I step to the front of the house for a change of scenery?”

“Go ahead,” said Jake, reaching in his pocket. “Here’s my card. Email me your notes, please.”

“Sure will.” Browell wobbled away.

Stone glanced around. The patio was situated partly behind the home and stretched east. It was perched on a level spot above a cliff. Looking further east, he saw the lights of Hollywood flowing like a carpeting toward downtown Los Angeles. There was no place for a gunman to run up to the fence and shoot. Behind the property a hillside rose toward a ridge that looked about several hundred yards away. A few small trees and scrub brush covered the steep grade. There was no trail or steps leading down.


CHAPTER ONE BLOG POST

Here’s a previous post on a Ch 1 Preview … click here to read it.

The fruit that cocaine smugglers like to use

What is it about pineapple that’s so doggone attractive for cocaine smugglers. Some of the largest drug busts in the last few years have been finding coke in pineapples. Just think about the pineapples that have made it through.

If you like adventure novels with drug smuggling, check out our Tom Stone books on this blog site and on Amazon.

Savannah, Georgia — Coke in Pineapples

A news report from early 2019, revealed that cocaine smugglers from Colombia tried to sneak about 1,000 pounds of coke worth $19 million past authorities. It didn’t work. The CBP Area Port Director, Lisa Beth Brown, said the find was “an outstanding interception of narcotics by our CBP officers” and the work highlights what “our officers do each day to stop illegal activity at our borders and ports of entry.”

Spain and Portugal 2018

Authorities in Spain and Portugal got their notice a year earlier when inspecting a container of pineapples. The little white powder was everywhere.

According to Reuters, the coke-stuffed pineapples were discovered as part of a collaboration between police in Spain and Portugal that began almost a year ago. The joint investigation led them to search a series of shipping containers, where they discovered that the shipment of pineapples from South America was moving more than just fruit.

Around 745 kg of cocaine—1,642 pounds—were split into packages, coated in pineapple-yellow wax, and hidden inside hollowed-out shells of the spiky fruit. Police seized the fruit stash of blow and raided a lab in Spain where the stuff was allegedly going to be cut and repackaged, making nine arrests in the process, Business Insider reports.

Costa Rica Pineapple Growers are Ticked

Pineapple growers in Costa Rica are upset with the cartels for using their precious fruit to smuggle illicit drugs. The pineapple growers say the smuggling hurts their reputation and can damage their industry since the smugglers are coming out of Colombia.

In Costa Rica, exporters ship out about 2,000 containers of pineapples every week.

Abel Chavez , the president of the National Chamber of Producers and Exporters of Pineapple (Canapep), says “The damage that this is doing to the country’s image and to the sector is big. The country can lose competitiveness over this. The countries that import pineapple from Costa Rica might decide to scan the shipments of pineapple for security reasons, and this could result in an additional cost for the industry.

Cocaine Smuggling in our Tom Stone Novels

In Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas, we introduce cocaine smuggling using candy in vending machines. The find puts Detective Tom Stone onto the heels of Anthony Angelino, a story line that continues through Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

All 3 novels are available on Amazon and our fourth novel Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill will be out in Summer 2019.

Letters from Prison and Our Tom Stone Crime Thriller

This is an excerpt from an actual letter that I, Don, received from my godson. He’s that in name only. We adopted his younger sister when she was a few years old. We didn’t know about M until he was 11 years old. He was the product of not just a broken home and family but one that was smashed and devastated by abuse.

Background for the Prison Letter

He’s been in and out of jail and prison the last few years. Since our Tom Stone stories deal with real life, I felt this prison letter excerpt would be appropriate. I may post other excerpts. I left in some misspellings and bad grammar usage and corrected others for readability.

Note: S.B. in the letter stands for San Bernardino

So much, so much in the last 2 wks. Riots, stabings raids and kilings here in the prison an drug overdoses[.] People been dying left an right. It’s been crazy and I got into some fights but I didn’t lost time we are now getting off lock down. We were on 24 hour lock down for 2 weeks an a few days I’m still not in school or any classes because I’m too short to the house is what my CCII tild me so I won’t be in anything. Anywayz I still haven’t got no word back about my probation statis if I’m going to S.B. or LA.

Have they talked to you guys? I know I’m on gang file which is all Bad for me if I have to go back to the S.B. Because I’m from a L.A. gang an the S.B. gangs don’t like L.A. gang members  like me. So hopefully I can go to LA. Anyways going through a lot.

People are coming at me, saying things to get me to get mad because I’m going home so I plan on staying in my cell for a few weeks to stay away from everyone, I’m ok anyways.

Let everyone in the church group I thank them so much for all the letters. It realy made my day. I even dropped a few tears. Please let them know I really thank them.

Well thank you so much for being by my side. Thank you an love you.

P.S. Can you please put $50 on my books?

M is the basis for the boy Andrew who’s featured in each Tom Stone story.

Detective Stone meets Andrew at a foster care group home in Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas and befriends him, seeing that Andrew needs a family or else he’ll grow up in foster care and head right into prison.

The Quirky and Sane Heroes in Popular Crime Fiction

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Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

As we continue crafting our Fourth Novel in the Tom Stone Detective Story series–One Shot, One Kill–a realization struck me and Lon that Tom Stone is different than some other popular, fictional crime fighters.

He makes sense and he works to make sense of the chaos around him.

By the way, stay up to date with our adventures and click here to join our Reading Group.

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You’ll get first notice on previews, discounts and more.

61 Hours (Jack Reacher, #14)

Jack Reacher – Entertaining and Socially Inept

Quirks, tempers, and gruff outsides mark many fictional detectives and thriller heroes. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is one of the most colorful characters I’ve known. In 61 Hours, Reacher is traveling on a bus that gets stuck in the snow in a town where the police are suspecting a prison break. He has no luggage and makes it clear to the people he meets that he travels light.

Reacher is a former military policeman and looks at every situation through the eyes of what crisis could erupt. He’s witty and lives with a wary eye, waiting for the bad guy to spring into the open at any moment.

And he’s a loner—just like a good thriller hero.

Detective Harry Bosch – The Tough Guy

Slightly different is Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles detective character. Bosch isn’t quirky like Reacher. But he’s cop-tough and gruff. He gives brief, deep guttural answers and is fairly much a loner except for his teenage daughter.

Everyone Nods: The Dragnet Style Files: "The Big Amateur ...

Sgt Joe Friday (Jack Webb) – Dragnet – The Man of Few Words

One of our first blog posts on this site was about Jack Webb’s infamous character who showed little emotion and said few words. Webb played him neutral and said you don’t where he stands on topics like religion and politics.

Tom Stone: Day of the Dead (Tom Stone Detective Stories -  Book 3) by [Bixby, Lon Casler, Simkovich, Don]

Detective Tom Stone – Rational, Sane

Then there’s Detective Tom Stone. We realized after writing three novels so far that Stone is the calm one in the center of quirky and desperate characters, like the eye of the hurricane. The rational one who works hard to keep society heading in a straight line so people don’t destroy each other.

In Book One, Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas, Stone reluctantly accompanies his partner on the force, Jake Sharpe, and hands out Christmas presents at a group home. He befriends a boy, Andrew, who constantly fights the staff at the group home and can’t sit still. He sees the boy as growing up and heading right into the prison system which is the fate of so many kids in foster care. Through the novels, we see the relationship deepening.

He has two daughters who are middle and late teens and he has worked hard to remain on good terms with his ex-wife Kelly, realizing that both of them focused on their careers instead of on each other. Yet, he and his ex- have given them stability.

Being loyal to friends and family is important to Stone, just as its important to his girlfriend, a savvy black woman Alisha Davidson.

Davidson is the defense attorney for the man that Stone is originally pursuing, Anthony Angelino – a quirky and desperate character who both Lon and I enjoyed creating and shaping. But Stone sees her determination and how she approaches her work and develops deep respect.

Here are links to the books.

Click here for our Crime Books page

Click the titles to see the books in their outlet:

Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas

Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

Our work in progress is Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill

If you like short stories, we recommend A Deadly Path – a father-son hike above the Los Angeles foothills turns tragic and uncovers the mystery of an unsolved murder.

Jake Sharpe and his son, Darrell, invite Stone and Andrew along for a hike.

Here’s an Excerpt

The mountains that ran west to east created a wall of wilderness between Los Angeles’ urban sprawl and the High Desert. Unfortunately, the cracks and crevices made great hiding places for crazies. Fugitives could crawl back in for miles, find a campground, or live among the coyotes and bears and surface along the homes and stores that ringed the wilds, stealing food or shaking someone down for money.

Another shot rang out.

Or shoot someone for sport.

Darrell was breathing heavily from panic. He slid across the dirt by his Dad. “What are we going to do?”

“Calm down, buddy,” whispered Jake. “We’ve got options.”

The boulder that protected them was several feet high and wide. Not bad. But Jake had no line of vision and if the shooter was creeping toward them, he could sneak up unnoticed. To the right and closer to the falls was a stack of large rocks that were stacked like a fortress. It was a good hiding spot. Getting behind it and keeping watch on the boulder would give them room to move back and forth.

Down the trail, just a little, was another stack of rocks. It would make sense for them to appear they were running back that way, like they were trying to escape.

Jake looked at his son. “I got an idea.”

“Yeah?” Darrell sounded hopeful as he pressed his back against the boulder. There were no more shots so either the gunman had gotten tired of the torment or else he was picking his way closer.

Jake knelt and locked eyes with Darrell. “See that rock?” A flat stone lay beside him.

“Yep.”

“I want to keep whoever’s doing the shooting distracted. Pick it up and throw it down the trail.” He pointed. “Low, so it hits near the rocks.”

“That’s it? That’s your idea?”

“For now. Yeah. I want us to have a little space so we’re not stuck together. Believe me, son, I’m not letting anything happen to you. Now, just toss that stone way down there.”

Deadly Drug Wars in Fiction and Real Life: Tijuana

Just across the border from San Diego, the drug war in Tijuana is real and costly. Selling on a corner without permission, not paying, and dealing in the wrong place has killed enough people that Tijuana, Baja California, is one of the deadliest cities in the world.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Tijuana suffered 2,518 homicides in 2018. That was more than double the number of killings in 2016.

A local drug war is fueling the battles and more than 9 out of 10 homicides goes unsolved. The killers don’t have to pay a price.

In Los Angeles, about half of all homicides go unsolved. It’s of interest to me since our Tom Stone Detective Stories are set in some of the grittier neighborhoods, not necessarily tougher, but not glamorous, either.

You can find the stories on Amazon. Or go to our Crime Books page.

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So I looked up “U.S. cities and homicide rates” and guess what I found?

Where do you think Los Angeles might have been?

How about New York? Or Chicago?

Big cities, right? Lots of crime?

Take a guess. What U.S. city has the highest murder rate per 100,000 people?

We’ll pause as you think about it.

Ok. The answer is on a site called The Trace.org in an article titled:

What’s the Homicide Capital of America? Murder Rates in U.S. Cities, Ranked. 

So it’s not any of the major cities that you might think. Nope, not at all.

It’s the Arch City in the Show Me state: St. Louis, Missouri with a rate of 66.1 murders per 100,000.

Next comes Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans and Kansas City at 30.9 homicides per 100,000.

Kansas City? That’s probably the Missouri side. Dang. Do you realize that Missouri is one of the deadliest states in the Union? I mean to have two cities ranking so high. Incredible.

And in California, guess what city still beats out Los Angeles?

It’s Stockton. It’s number 15 on the list followed by Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Stockton has 17.8 murders per 100,000 residents while Tulsa has 17.3.

Wow, so what’s Los Angeles’ rate?

First, what about Chicago? 24.1 bang-de-bangs per 100,00.

Ok, now for Los Angeles … the City of Angels. Got good news for you, folks.

In the land of Detective Tom Stone and his partner, Jake Sharpe, La-la land has 7 killin’s per 100,000. Wow. Not bad, huh?

I was surprised.

If you like charts, then this one works well. It’s from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

Check it out hereucr-cities-ranking-2017-1280x0-c-default

And access the url here. Information in it was updated September 27, 2014.

Hey, if you’re in the mood for a quickie crime read, then the thriller short story A Deadly Path is just your … well, cup of tea isn’t exactly the macho sounding invite, but you know what I mean.

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Best Crime Fiction 2018

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Photo by Ari Spada on Unsplash

2018 is when President Bill Clinton and James Patterson published their novel The President is Missing. It may not have been considered one of the year’s best but it was a unique approach. Who knows? Maybe George W. Bush will publish a western that takes place on a Texas ranch or Barack Obama will pen a compelling tale of Chicago mobsters or Hawaiian tourists.

2018 is also the year that Lon Bixby and I (Don Simkovich) published Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead, as we continue our chase around Los Angeles and Southern California. Some crime fiction authors churn out a few titles per year. Lon and I are a tad slower but we keep plugging away as we explore the characters.

TS-SS-ADP-FrontCover-V3-Hero-500x313We also published a short story A Deadly Path, a father-son hiking story set in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles.

If you’re interested in knowing about what is considered the Best Crime Fiction of 2018 here are links and sources to check:

 

 

 

 

The Booklist Reader’s Top Three are:

Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

The Force by Don Winslow

 

Vulture.com 10 Best Crime Novels of 2018 include:

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem

The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

 

Crime Reads.com has the 20 Best Crime Novels of 2018 and to name a few:

November Road by Lou Berney

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

 

The New York Times Best Crime Fiction of 2018 names these among its mentions:

Wrecked by Joe Ide, featuring his brainy PI from Los Angeles (I wonder if he and Detective Tom Stone know each other)

In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen

Holy Ghost by John Sandford

So there you have a few “best crime book” lists. There are others so keep looking if you’d like. But otherwise, we hope you had your favorite crime books of 2018 that you enjoyed and that you’ll look forward to more in 2019.

One of mine was Badlands by CJ Box and reminded me of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

Have a wonderful 2019 in the stories you choose and in the life you live!