Game of Fire

Another Jonathon Stone Mystery

An explosion and fire rocks a Southern California mall and it is quickly determined it is arson. The timing of the incident is special because it interrupts the Tet New Year’s Festival and Parade in Little Saigon, an area just east of Long Beach.

Had the old wounds of Vietnam been opened again or was there a different game being played?

Enter veteran CIA Agent Jonathon Stone. Already in pursuit of the gun-running Minh family, he connects with a special FBI task force to assist in the investigation of the explosion and Minh quickly becomes their number one suspect.

Stone teams up with FBI Agent Jodi Shannon to pursue the people behind the arson fire. Jodi is a serious, no nonsense agent who leads the FBI Arson Task Force. While she fights to solve the mystery, she also fights Stone’s advances. As always, he tries to mix business with pleasure.

As the game takes its twists and turns, Stone’s assignment leads to a shootout in Las Vegas and a car chase down the coast of Southern California.

Jonathon Stone battles his love for gambling and drinking and the ladies to help solve the Mystery of the Game of Fire.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

The salty ocean air filled my nose as I jogged along the running path. It was a typical Sunday winter morning in the Long Beach area. The marine layer would last until noon or so and then break apart.

This was my morning routine now that my CIA assignment had changed to an on-call asset. Chasing terrorism had been my job for a while now. From day-to-day I never knew where in the world I was going to wind up.

I could see my most favorite coffee shop in the world, Essie’s, several hundred yards down the pathway to the green belt that separated the Pacific Ocean from an area called Belmont Shore. I had lived in the area for a couple of years now and since I could catch an op anywhere in the world, it was a good base location for me. The ocean, the mild weather and a gambling casino just five minutes away was my way of living.

I grabbed a newspaper at the door and headed to my usual table in the corner. A crowd of locals were intently watching TV and talking politics. It was funny. No matter where I went in the world, this scene was repeated. The scuttlebutt could become very heated at times.

Roxie, the morning waitress at Essie’s Coffee Shop, headed toward me with a steaming pot of coffee.

“Hi, Rox. I’ll have a bagel with cream cheese.”

Everybody called her Rox. I could never understand how you could shorten someone’s name when it was already short. Now I could understand people cutting my name from Jonathon to Jon.

She poured my coffee with a quick flick of the wrist. She was good at what she did.

“Coming right up. Toasted lightly, right?”

“You got it. How are the Lakers doing?” I asked, knowing they were leading the league.

Roxie’s answer always depended on the night before. If the Lakers won she was all smiles. If they lost, look out.

“Those bums lost in overtime. They should play that one tall rookie more.”

I started reading the front page. A large picture of a fire jumped out at me. Now I know why the television was turned loud this morning. I turned my attention to the TV in the front of the room. I watched the fire scene as the firemen sprayed the structure with large hoses. That looked bad.

I stood and walked closer to the TV. I knew the area of the fire. I recognized it from the large mall sign in the parking lot in front of the complex. We had closed a surveillance op there just five months ago.

I returned to my table and started reading the paper.

2/18/2007, Orange County Daily News

FIRE MARS TET FESTIVAL IN GARDEN GROVE

Last night at around ten o’clock, a fire broke out in the Le Hi Shopping Mall on Bolsa Ave. in Garden Grove and quickly went out of control, completely destroying the complex. Hours earlier the street in front of the Mall was filled with party-goers celebrating the Annual Tet Festival Parade. There were thousands of people along the parade route in the Little Saigon area during the day….

I got up and moved closer to the TV again. A fire chief was giving a briefing.

“Good morning. I am Eddie Lam, Garden Grove Fire Chief. I am here to report on the fire last night at the Le Hi Shopping Mall. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. It appears that something exploded or caught on fire which immediately hit the gas line and spread rapidly through the complex. Multiple fire departments responded, but there was little they could do, but contain the fire from spreading to surrounding structures and neighborhoods. We were lucky that the crowd from the parade had dispersed already.”

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Game Of Fire is the second book in the Jonathon Stone Mystery Series.