Darby Stansfield and his girlfriend fly to Hawaii for a relaxing summer but instead find themselves at the end of a number of mysterious threats.
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LOCO MOCO is the third book in the ever-popular Darby Stansfield thriller series. Readers have described the series as Tarantino meets The Office.
The world’s only consultant to the criminal underworld has just experienced his closest brush with death yet, and wonders if it’s time to quit the biz.
In need of some serious soul searching, Darby Stansfield and his girlfriend, Izzy Weber, set off for a summer surfing adventure in Hawaii. But what the land of Aloha offers instead, is the same temptations he’s eager to escape—one in particular, the North Beach Boys. Hoping to resist the lure of the local gang, Darby focuses on improving his relationship with Izzy. All is fun in the sun until their beach house is broken into.
From there, the mysterious threats begin to escalate, forcing Darby to hire a local private detective. Between the PI working the case and the security improvements made around their place, the ideal summer appears to be back on track. Wrong.
What they don’t realize is that a stranger is watching them and someone is going to die.
The locals called the area near the foothills “dead land.” I was beginning to understand why. My hands were tied tightly behind my back with the leather strap they had used to beat me. The blood on my face had crusted under the sun and felt like caked theater makeup. I certainly did not recall auditioning for this performance. My legs were numb from the knees down, and the hot sand felt like daggers in my kneecaps. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep myself from falling over. In front of me was a shallow grave that I could make out with my one good eye; the other was swollen shut. I stared at the grave. Was this my home-to-be? Had I, Darby Stansfield, taken my consulting business too far?
I was in deep trouble—in no man’s land, as far as I was concerned. About six miles east of the small resort town of Rosarito was the village of San Patricio. There was never any reason for me to go there. I had no business to conduct, no family to visit, and nothing about the place said “vacation.” It was a town that should have died years ago, but clung to life. Even the residents were reluctant to return if they ever left. So to travel farther east was out of the question for anybody, except for me.
Out here, the paved road dies off like the land. Only the skeletons of a few ranches spotted the terrain. Heat waves as far as eyes could stand to watch kept it that way. This was considered unwanted property by government and the people.
Three black SUVs and a white Mercedes were the only signs that life still existed at one of the ranches. Behind a large barn, wooden with its paint faded and chipped beyond a recognizable color, a group of men had gathered. Six of them were on their knees. I was one of them.
“Cuales diablos creen que son para venir aquí y decirme cuales son los terminos del trato?”
I couldn’t understand a single word the hissing Mexican behind me said; it was all in Spanish. I could only assume he was pissed and we were screwed. He then squeezed off a round, making us all straighten up. Kneeling on my left was my client, Diego Castillo. It was his idea to arrange a drug deal and then change the terms. He thought he could force them into taking a deal that favored his interests. Clearly, he was mistaken.
I, and six members of the Mission Mayhem gang, had come to Rosarito for a little R&R. At least, that’s the story Diego gave me. He said it was his way of thanking me for all my help with the gang. Thanks? I was on the verge of being shot execution-style for tagging along.
I can’t believe this is happening.
I must have repeated that phrase a million times in my head. The fear that gripped me was nothing like I had ever experienced. I shouldn’t worry though, right? This happens to other people, not me. Any second now the cavalry will show up, with guns blazing and smack talk flying. We were on the verge of rescue. I kept thinking that until I heard two noises that almost made me shit myself.
It had begun. One of our guys was down. I dared not move my head, but out of the corner of my good eye, I could see a body slumped over in the grave. His name was Tony Espinoza, but they all called him Smiles on account of he was always happy and upbeat. I doubted he was smiling right now.
The guy yelling at us was a lieutenant with the Juarez Cartel, Luis Ortega, but he was better known as The Bulldog. He earned his nickname by ripping his victims apart, a task he performed with great pleasure. The Juarez Cartel was the sworn enemy of the now weakened Tijuana Cartel, with whom the Mayhems aligned themselves.
I’m a telecommunications consultant to the criminal underworld. I helped the gang prosper back in the Mission district of San Francisco. Wireless business solutions helped them run their organization more efficiently, greatly increasing their productivity. My work with Diego’s gang was so successful that his head got the better of him. He decided to set up his own drug deal with The Bulldog as if he had the same muscle behind him that they did. Wrong.
The Bulldog and his men were outfitted with flak jackets and assault rifles. I suspected they had tactical training as well. We were dead from the very beginning.
The Bulldog stopped yelling. Bam. The gun blast echoed off the buildings. I heard the thud of another body, José’s probably. That was two down. Three more until he reached me. I was the last in line. Again the gun went off. This time, I actually saw shards of skull land in the dirt in front of us. The third one to go was Manny, I think. I couldn’t quite remember how we were lined up.
The Bulldog began to speak again, this time in a softer voice. It was as if he were now consoling us. Yeah, right. This time he kept his casual conversation going when he pulled the trigger. Another thud with dust rising. Buh-bye, Hector. I never liked him much anyway.
It was then that Diego started to speak. Why he waited so long before saying something was beyond me. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking as his men were gunned down right next to him. Wait, that’s it; he wasn’t thinking.
Diego and The Bulldog spoke at the same time, neither of them listening much until they were both screaming. I was surprised by Diego’s bravado, considering the situation. Even his body shook with range. I had never heard him spew such a mixture of spit and venom.
The Bulldog held his ground. And to make his point, he fired a bullet into Rooster’s head as his exclamation point. The gang gave Eduardo the nickname Rooster because he was always up early. It didn’t look like he was getting up this time.
This close, the gun sounded like an M-80 going off. I no longer needed to hear a thud to know another body lay in the grave. I could see it, clear as day. Diego and I were now the only men left kneeling. I was going to die. And the worst part? No one would know where my body was. I would forever be a missing person. What kind of legacy was that?
After Rooster had the back of his head hollowed out, Diego clamped up like a man getting his anus fingered for the first time. With nothing more to say, The Bulldog cocked the gun. I turned my head slightly to see a long barrel pressed against the back of Diego’s head. It was a six-shooter—Dirty Harry style. No wonder the shots sounded like cannons.