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

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!

Author Spotlight: Stewart Giles, Thriller Suspense

I’ve been discovering British dramas recently thanks to Netflix and PBS and now a best-selling author who is new to me and Lon.

We are pleased to welcome Stewart Giles whStewart Giles Author Photoo takes us to the U.K. His new detective story is set on the Cornish coast. Where the pretty villages and towns hold some very dark secrets.

Before we delve into the book, let’s learn about Stewart (oh, another link to his website, Facebook page, and Twitter are at the end):

After reading English & Drama at three different English Universities and graduating from none of them, I set off travelling and finally ended up in South Africa, where I still live. I enjoy the serene life running a boat shop on the banks of the Vaal Dam. I came up with the DS Jason Smith idea after my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head. Whether it was intentional still remains a mystery. Smith, the first in the series was finished in September 2013 and was closely followed by Boomerang and Ladybird. Occam’s Razor, Harlequin and Phobia (a series of short stories detailing Smith’s early life) were all completed in one hazy 365 days and Selene was done and dusted a few months later.

And now … The Backpacker (DC Harriet Taylor #3) by Stewart Giles

The Backpacker cover idea 3


A girl’s body is found hidden in a remote spot of a Cornish Farm. The same farm that a young girl ran towards to escape her pursuer many years before.

Detective Harriet Taylor has to abandon her day out to investigate.

As Littlemore and the forensics team get to work they uncover another mystery hidden among the rocks.

Who would kill a young backpacker who hurt nobody?  Is there a link between this and a mystery from many years ago?

As Harriet and the team get to work they find more questions than answers.  What secrets is the sleepy Cornish village hiding?

This is a fast-paced page-turner that has so many twists and turns it keeps the reader guessing right up to the shocking end.

 If you like Police Procedurals, then this is a series you won’t want to miss.


Trotterdown and the surrounding villages is a fictional village in Cornwall.  It is typical of Cornish villages with remote farms and sleepy Cornish stone cottages.  However, the area is steeped in history and the residents of the quaint cottages have their share of myths and secrets making it the ideal setting for this series.


DC Harriet Taylor had only been married for 2 years when her philandering husband was killed in a car crash.  It is common knowledge around the station that the woman who died next to him was his latest lover.  Harriet transferred to Trotterdown to escape the gossip and sympathetic looks.  She is now finding her way around Cornwall and getting to know the other members of the team.


Book 1 The Beekeeper
Book 2 The Perfect Murder
Book 3 The Backpacker


Book 0.5 Phobia
Book 1 Smith
Book 2 Boomerang
Book 3 Ladybird
Book 4 Occam’s Razor
Book 5 Harlequin
Book 6 Selene
Book 7 Horsemen
Book 8 Unworthy


She ran. She ran like her life depended on it.
It probably did.

She could hear his breathing behind her – steady breaths that sounded in time with his footsteps. He was getting closer, and she pushed herself some more. She could see the smoke coming out of the chimney in the old farmhouse far in the distance. The smoke was going straight up – there wasn’t a breath of wind in the air. She thought she could feel his breath on her neck. The farmhouse didn’t seem to be getting any closer.
I’m not going to make it. This is what it feels like to know you’re about to die.
He was getting closer, and the farmhouse was too far away. The fields were empty. She felt a hand on her back, he screamed something in a language she didn’t understand and then she was free. She carried on running. The footsteps behind her were gone. She glanced back as she ran. He’d tripped and fallen and was picking himself up off the ground.
She reached the farmhouse and banged on the door. As she waited for it to open she scanned the field. Her pursuer was gone.


Carrion. That’s what the jackdaws could pick up in the breeze – the scent of carrion. The rooks had got there first. Scores of them, their wings beating in a frenzy of excitement. This kill was theirs. The crows waited in the sidelines. They were next in line. The jackdaws would have to be content with the scraps. One of the rooks pecked at something hard and recoiled, stunned. Their meal had been partially hidden between a pile of rocks on the far side of Landell’s farm. A heap of dead branches had been placed on top, but the full force of an Atlantic South-Westerly during the night had lifted most of them off. Now, the smell of carrion had drawn scavengers from far and wide.
It was the mob of birds that had caught the eye of Gilly Landell. Gilly was the wife of William Landell Junior, the owner of the farm. By the time she’d spotted the feeding frenzy there were more than fifty birds hanging around the scene. Gilly’s first thought was that a sheep had perished in the night. It was lambing season, and the lambs were especially vulnerable. Foxes were becoming more and more of a nuisance on the farm. She started up the quad bike, and made her way through the field towards the squawking rabble.
The crows and the jackdaws took flight at she approached, as did the majority of the rooks. A few of the bold ones stood their ground – this feast was theirs and they weren’t going to give it up without a fight. Gilly Landell stopped the quad bike and got off. She shooed the remaining birds away and moved in to take a closer look at what had attracted them to the far edge of the farm in the first place.
Gilly could see straight away that it wasn’t a sheep the birds were interested in. The branches that had blown off during the night revealed the body of a young woman. Her blonde hair was matted with blood. Gilly was well accustomed to death – growing up on a farm meant that death was a part of life but the body of the young woman lying among the rocks was something she wouldn’t forget for a very long time. One of her blue eyes was open. The other one was gone – bird food. The blood in the empty socket was black. Gilly Landell turned to one side and vomited on the rocks.



Twitter: @stewartgiles


You can join the Stewart Giles reader club by completing this form


gI_71240_press-release-1Stewart’s writing made me think of the Endeavour TV show which airs in the U.S. on PBS. I wrote a post here about the show and episode 2 of Season 5.,

The episode included actress Linette Beaumont along with Phil Daniels guest starring alongside Shaun Evans and Roger Allam.

For more author interviews see:

SN Bronstein

Lon Casler Bixby

Don Simkovich

Colleen Story

Meghan Holloway