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.”

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Christmas Crime Novels to Tense Your Holidays

A crime story at Christmastime adds a layer of angst to what is always celebrated as a joyous time of year. These novels can make for dangerous reading. Go ahead and turn a few pages and see what dilemmas you’ll encounter.

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A crime story that involves little-known neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas 

A puzzling, drug-smuggling caper written by Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby. Since this is our blog, we just had to list it first.

 

 

 

 

Published in 1933, this story delves into the psychological side of murder. Take a peek at Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith.

Cheery, hmm?

Adrian Gray meets a terrible fate from one of his children.

 

 

 

The Secret of Annexe 3 — for Endeavour fans everywhere, featuring Chief Inspector Morse who normally steers clear of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

For a related blog post, see this one we wrote on Endeavour Series V.

 

 

 

christmas classic crime

A stalled train forces passengers to take refuge in a house where they become trapped. Chills and thrills for the holidays. Mystery in White.

 

 

 

 

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries by Otto Penzler “offers yuletide fun and crimes” according to a 2013 review from The Washington Post.

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

So many Christmas crime books are from British authors, which is not surprising since Christmas traditions are strong and it’s a place where so many crime fiction novels have been written.

You might think that Sir Author Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame was the reason for crime fiction, but it’s actually American-born Edgar Allen Poe who is considered the father of the detective story.

By the way, if you’re new to this blog that’s based on our Tom Stone detective stories, Lon and I want to extend a warm welcome to you. We do feature other authors in the thriller and crime fiction genre as well as excerpts from our own stories.

Here’s a good place to start if you want to check out the blog in more detail. Read this post “If you’re new to our crime thriller blog.”

It contains links to other posts including interviews with Don and Lon.

Enjoy it and we hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday season and New Year’s celebration.

Also, take a few moments to look at our Crime Fiction Books page.

We’re working on Book 4 of the Tom Stone series and are quite excited about it. Stay tuned for discounts, deals and announcements about it by clicking here to join our reader’s group.

When you do, you can get a free chapter four of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead and a free copy of our short story A Deadly Path.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Thriller Book Deals

Treat yourself, friends, and family to these holiday shopping book deals — thrilling crime fiction novels and a thriller short story in the Tom Stone Detective Stories series:

Four Thriller Books — only Four Bucks!

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Four titles only 99 cents each from Thanksgiving and Black Friday through Cyber Monday to kick off your holiday shopping. 

Discover new authors and these Los Angeles crime novels — winding from Van Nuys and Highland Park to Boyle Heights, Long Beach, Marina del Rey and even far off El Centro.

Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas

The chase begins as Detective Tom Stone pursues Anthony Angelino when a child dies from eating cocaine stuffed in a chocolate bar.

Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Anthony Angelino sees legit profits in a legal marijuana dispensary, although Tom Stone suspects his suspect is up to something else as the mob elbows its way in for a piece of the action.

Stone gets sidetracked — only slightly — by noticing Alisha Davidson, the woman who is Angelino’s defense attorney.

Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

An explosive battle set in a Santa Monica warehouse is the next stage in the on-going drama between Stone and Angelino. Will the mob get the shipment it had been waiting for or will Angelino make a clean getaway? Can Stone bring justice to the streets of Los Angeles?

Can Stone and Alisha survive the controversy of chasing Angelino and keep their budding relationship intact?

And, yes, Book 4 is a Work-in-Progress!

The Tom Stone Detective series features the themes of:

  • the lure of drug smuggling
  • interracial romance
  • a divorced dad caring for his girls
  • healing in foster care
  • father and son tensions and heroics

These are fast-paced stories with gripping themes and compelling characters.

Read the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Join the Tom Stone reading group and get updates on excerpts, specials, and more!

Want to read new authors? Learn more about co-authors Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby:

 

Lon Caster Bixby.jpgInterview with Lon Casler Bixby

 

 

 

 

Are you new to our crime fiction blog?

Read this post to get acquainted: If You’re New to Our Crime Thriller Blog

We’re glad you stopped by and hope that we become more than just authors on your To Be Read list — but writers whose works you’ll anticipate.

Thanks for visiting, come back often, and have a wonderful Holiday and Christmas Season reading thrillers and crime fiction or whatever genre you enjoy!

 

 

Our Thriller Work-in-Progress: Novel #4

Hiking trails running above Hollywood and West Hollywood inspired a setting for our fourth Tom Stone thriller novel. We’re working with a title in mind that we’ve chosen and will mention it soon.

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Pic by Don Simkovich, Runyon Canyon

The trail off Mulholland Drive is one thing that fascinates me (Don) about Los Angeles. It’s a mix of urban and forest, even within several miles of downtown. This is part of the Santa Monica Mountains and a setting for a … crime scene. Trails carved into the sides of the hills are quite a contrast to the crowded streets and densely packed neighborhoods of apartments and homes.

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Pic by Don Simkovich, Runyon Canyon

Just imagine, hiding in the brush and waiting … patiently … for — well, you’ll have to read the novel which will be out in a few months.

The First 3 Tom Stone Books

In the meantime, get in on the Tom Stone action with the first 3 books in the series:

Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas

Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights

Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead

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Check them out online at major outlets and of course on Amazon where you can read free previews.

Check them out also on our Crime Books page.

And we have a short story Tom Stone: A Deadly Path.

If you’re in Los Angeles, take a tour along Mulholland Drive. It’s fascinating as it gives views of the LA Basin to the south and the San Fernando Valley to the north.

I can’t think of another major metro area like LA where urban living clashes so much with the forest and remnants of what was once wild.

But today, there’s another form of wildlife — the people that Detective Tom Stone and his partner Jake Sharpe hunt down.

The first three books are meeting with good reviews and we feel proud of our work so far in Book 4. Again, stay tuned and come back to stay up-to-date on our thriller in-progress.

Get a Free Chapter and Free Short Story: A Deadly Path

Click here on our Intro Site to get a free chapter from Tom Stone: Day of the Dead and a free short story Tom Stone: A Deadly Path.

 

If you’re new to our crime thriller blog …

then welcome. Lon and I are glad to have you as we work on our 4th novel in the Tom Stone Detective series, which is really a crime thriller series. We’ve also created a thriller short story, A Deadly Path.

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A bit about this site: we’d like to encompass a wider range of crime fiction entertainment from classic authors like we did on Edgar Allen Poe, to brief write-ups on TV shows that include the British drama Endeavour, plus the legendary Jack Webb and Dragnet and — from the late 1950s — Have Gun will Travel.

Stay tuned for contemporary authors like C.J. Box and more author interviews from today’s indie authors, plus crime updates on cocaine smuggling and other wild stuff.

So this site is a way to get to know our style and take in a wider view of thriller news and crime dramas.

 

 

If you’re not aware of it, our books are on our Crime Books page where you can read summaries and get a load of the fun covers.

Writing and Editing Manual Typewriter

If you like watching video, here I am discussing our crime novels on a San Gabriel Valley, California talk show on the Crown City Network.

 

Lon Sungalsses and HatAnd if you want to learn about my co-author, Lon Casler Bixby, here’s a brief interview with him: Author Interview: Lon Casler Bixby.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the independent authors we’ve featured include:

PHOTO S.N. BronsteinS.N. Bronstein who writes about Miami prominently;

 

 

 

 

Meghan Holloway
Follow Meghan online and learn more about her exciting projects.

Meghan Holloway who has a fluid style in her storytelling;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewart Giles Author PhotoSouth African novelist Stewart Giles,

 

 

 

 

 

Author photoMurder at Midnight author Faith Martin.

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen M. Story CroppedAnd if you enjoy reading about the writing process here is a blog post from Colleen Story, wellness writer: Why Writing Crime Fiction, or Any Genre, Doesn’t have to Kill You.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy browsing our site. If you want to contribute a post as a guest author, please contact Don Simkovich at dsimkovich@gmail.com. Make sure you put “guest author post” in the subject line.