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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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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Revealing Our Title for Tom Stone Book 4 … The Thriller Novel is …

Above the mansions in Los Angeles that are cut into the steep hills are wind-swept grasses and ridges.

phpcFgUEhPMWhat can happen from this vantage point for someone set on revenge is how we introduce our new thriller novel that’s named:

One Shot, One Kill.

This is Book 4 of the Tom Stone series and continues the chase for drugs that began quietly in:

Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas, took a deadly twist in

Book 2 Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights and turned into an explosive double-cross in

Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

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

Now, get ready for Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill.

This thriller of a novel shows that it doesn’t take much to throw entire crime syndicates into confusion and set some of the most powerful and twisted people in Los Angeles at each other’s throats.

Detective Tom Stone and his partner Jake Sharpe tackles an elusive case where they encounter characters tainted with guilt, but ones they could never fully apprehend.

One Shot, One Kill.

It’s our deadliest, most chilling thriller yet with twists and turns that will make your fingers raw from turning the pages and your eyes bleary from reading far more than you expected.

Take the ride. Heed the call. If you dare.

We’re working on this powerful Work-in-Progress and it will release in a few months. We’ll keep you up to date on the progress.

Keep tuned to this blog for more author interviews and crime news, including updates on some of the most notorious criminals ever to roam the earth.

One Shot, One Kill.

Remember the title: Tom Stone Book 4: One Shot, One Kill

Stay engaged and in the know by joining our Readers Group where you can get first notice on special promotions.

Want a free chapter from Day of the Dead and a free copy of our short story, A Deadly Path?

Click here to join our Reader’s Group.

And be on the lookout … summer 2019 …

Tom  Stone Book 4: One Shot, One Kill.

Chilling, thrilling, with blood spilling. Just enough blood to wreak havoc on the toughest and most reprehensible criminals in Los Angeles.

Crime fiction at its finest.

Drug smuggling at its nastiest.

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.

Tom Stone Nitty Gritty Cover
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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child with No Family in Our Thriller Novel

Tom Stone Nitty Gritty Cover
A crime story that involves little-known neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Christmas is a bittersweet at the group home in our thriller novel and story, Book 1 Tom Stone: A Nitty Gritty Christmas (only 99 cents Dec 21 – 25 on Amazon). Sure, the kids love getting presents but in our story there was one boy who acts up and realizes something is missing.

The story opens with Detective Tom Stone going with his partner Jake Sharpe to take presents to the kids and when Stone steps inside the group home, he notices a familiar setting:

Inside, there were a dozen or so long tables with a food service area in the back. A few women and men in hairnets were serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, plates of cookies and hot chocolate. It reminded Stone of the prisons he had seen when he had to interrogate inmates, but perhaps it was just a variation on an institutional theme.

He notices a boy who can’t sit still at a table packed with candy and who is creating a disturbance. The staff can’t figure out what to do with him.

“Sit down for Santa, Andy. Come on, man, be good.”

“I don’t want Santa. I want to go home.” Andrew grabbed the candy bar, ripped open the wrapping and stuffed it in his mouth.

A boy sitting across the table spoke matter-of-factly, “This is our home.”

Ivy Acres in the story is a clean place and the staff are friendly. But it’s not home and Stone recognizes this, nor can the boys go home.

Andrew is loosely based on a real life boy that I, Don, know — the oldest brother of my youngest adopted daughter. He grew up in a group home facility and his life after being emancipated has been one of moving in and out of adult group homes, hitting the streets, having a girlfriend and baby, then getting busted for drugs and armed robbery.

He’s gone into county jail, state prison, and now back in county jail but is really wanting to change. The abuse he suffered in his first few years of life and then lack of family has had a permanent impact on the choices he’s made.

He’s impulsive and his path through foster care and into an institutional setting has been his path to incarceration as a man.

The relationship with Andrew deepens in the next two Tom Stone novels and our short story, A Deadly Path.

During Christmas, getting presents from Santa isn’t a substitute for a family. And Detective Tom Stone sees this and makes a decision himself.

We hope you enjoy reading it and enjoy Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Nights and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead.

We’re currently writing Book 4 so stay tuned for updates.

 

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

WHAT IS THE SECRET AT LANDELL’S FARM?

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.

THE SETTING

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.

THE DETECTIVE

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.

DC HARRIET TAYLOR SERIES

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

DS JASON SMITH SERIES

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

1996

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.

CHAPTER ONE

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.

STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH STEWART

Website: www.stewartgiles.com

Twitter: @stewartgiles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stewart.giles.33

You can join the Stewart Giles reader club by completing this form  https://goo.gl/forms/gtQ0gsNpzFP8WFHP2

 

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