Champion surfer Jeff Walker’s father was murdered before he was born. What’s worse, his mother died of a broken heart after clinging to life to raise him by herself in a foreign land. Desperate to confront the crook, Walker moves to the U.S. and finds work on the beach in sunny San Diego. Then, when he sees a shooting on a yacht and swims out to the rescue, he unwittingly steps into the sticky web of a smuggling ring.
Along with a rich cast of characters, Walker assists the police in the investigation, but the case turns personal when the leader of the smugglers is revealed as the killer Walker’s been searching for since he was a teenager!
This is the first novel in The Park and Walker Action Thriller Series. If you like muscle cars, brawny bikes, explosive action, compelling prose, and spectacular oceanfront settings, then look no further. This is your kind of book.
“What a rollercoaster of a read! Action-packed throughout. The scenes and characters are amazing, and I hardly stopped to breathe. Everything that I want in a book...fast cars, even better bikes, highs and lows with some great baddies in tow!”
“The Mazatlan Showdown is a thrilling ride that fans of action and adventure novels won't want to miss. The book sets the stage for what promises to be an exciting and action-packed series, and readers will be eagerly anticipating the next installment. Highly recommended for fans of the genre!”
“With a richly detailed and diverse cast of characters, fast-paced action, and a setting to die for, The Mazatlan Showdown draws you in immediately. The twists and turns had me flipping pages as fast as I could, and the ending leaves you wanting more but doesn’t leave you hanging. I can’t wait to continue the series!”
Thirty Years Before Present Day
Lieutenant Thomas Walker’s eyes shot open in the predawn darkness with no need for the alarm he’d set the night before. He scooted toward his wife and snuggled up against her.
“Morning,” he whispered.
He slid his hand over her pregnant belly, kissing her neck, feeling the warmth of her body, and breathing with her for a time, yet the important events of the day ahead set him promptly into motion like a giant fist that scooped him up and shoved him into the shower.
He went through the battle plan as he bathed: he and Christine were slated to testify in the court-martial of Lieutenant Trent Bolton, a fellow naval aviator. But the man would never fly a fighter plane again. After Walker’s testimony, Bolton would be dishonorably discharged and hopefully sent to prison for several years.
As he shrugged on his white dress uniform, Walker thought to fill up the Mustang while Chris was still getting ready. He left the house and strode across the driveway to his black GT convertible, scanning the neighborhood, as was his habit. The breaking light of dawn gave him a clear view of the cars on the street, and the only vehicle he didn’t recognize was a red crew-cab pickup parked three blocks away. Walker didn’t see anyone inside, so he turned back to his black Mustang, slid behind the wheel, started its engine with a roar, and grumbled onto the road in reverse. Without coming to a full stop, he shifted into first and pressed the pedal lightly. The street-legal race car leapt forward. Dropping into second gear, he picked up speed, the cold morning air blowing in through his open windows. Walker wished it were a warmer breeze like the one at Rosarito Beach, where they were planning to take little Jeffrey on his first vacation once he was born and big enough to enjoy it.
A hundred yards from the stop sign at the corner, he glanced up at the rear-view mirror. A jolt of panic rocked his body like a pair of defibrillator paddles. Fuck! The big red pickup was approaching fast from behind. As it came alongside on the left, it collided with Walker’s car, forcing him to choose between crashing into his neighbor’s living room or braking to a stop.
Walker brought the Mustang to an immediate halt and popped the glove box to grab his Glock 17. He then flew out of the car and to the corner, cutting right, looking everywhere for a safe place from which to call Christine. He had to warn her in case his attackers went back to the house, and he suspected they might. The best option was a gas station on the other side of the street, so he sprinted for it, his strong legs pumping as he glanced over his shoulder. Three men emerged from around the corner with pistols leveled. BAM! BAM! BAM!
Despite the bullets snapping past his body, he made it into the restroom, securing the steel door with a heavy sliding bolt as his pursuers’ rounds slammed into it, startling him and denting the metal. He hustled to the most defensible corner, flipped open his phone, and gave his wife the short version.
“I’m calling the police,” she said.
“It won’t do any good,” he replied. “This is going to be over in two minutes. Get out of the house immediately. Rent a room where we spent our honeymoon and I’ll meet you there if I can.”
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Fists pounding at the metal door. “Let me in, Walker, or I’ll make it even worse!” barked a familiar voice.
Walker’s emotions swelled in his chest as he chose what he knew were parting words. What could he say? “You know you’re the love of my life.”
Christine didn’t reply, but she didn’t need to. Her muffled sobs told him more than any words could.
He flipped the phone shut and tossed it aside. The pounding on the door had stopped. As seconds stretched into minutes, and minutes into hours, the sound of an engine grew louder, accelerating, approaching. Walker charged into a stall, leapt onto the toilet seat, whirled around, and aimed his pistol at the dark-green door just as it was smashed in with a squealing of twisted metal, creating a gap between the door and its frame.
As the big red pickup backed away, Walker peered over the stall’s dividing panel, estimating the width of the gap at a foot and a half. His attackers would have to squeeze themselves through to enter, so that’s where he aimed his Glock. He heard three of the pickup’s doors clunk shut, but no targets stepped into view, just an army-green frag grenade that came sailing in and clattered to a stop on the floor outside the stall.
The blast tore the dividers out of the wall and hurled Walker to the floor. As he fell, he smashed his head on the toilet with a sickening thunk. He pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, the ringing in his ears drowning out all other sounds, and a strong pair of hands hauled him up to a standing position. He swayed on his feet as he blinked his vision into focus on two men he couldn’t identify, and on Trent Bolton, the crook he’d been about to testify against. All three stood out of reach with their pistols leveled.
Bolton’s black hair was clipped short in a high and tight, and his chiseled features showed little emotion as he stared down the sights of a Ruger P90, targeting Walker’s head. “Any last words?” he asked.
Walker knew better than to waste the final seconds of his life conversing with a drug-addicted criminal. Instead, he closed his eyes in gratitude for all the time he’d spent with Christine, for their intoxicating courtship in Kentucky and the ten sunny years in San Diego that followed. He thought of Jeffrey, the son he’d never get to know; they’d call him Jeff, or maybe “Walker” like him. He wished his boy a long life of good deeds and close friends. The final picture in Lieutenant Walker’s imagination was of his lovely wife beaming at him with baby Jeffrey in her arms. Swaddled in a blue blanket with only his little face exposed, the infant cooed and grinned at his father. Walker took the child and held him for a moment. He kissed his son on the forehead with all his love, then handed him back and gazed into Chris’s liquid brown eyes.
Bolton’s bullet pierced Walker’s brain and blew out the back of his head, killing him before he heard the shot.
Jeff Walker sat on his surfboard, rising and falling with the swell as he waited for the next set to roll in. He glanced up at the gathering clouds, dark and heavy, blown in by a chilly wind. A storm was coming, but it hadn’t yet spoiled the conditions; to the contrary, the waves were double overhead and still breaking cleanly. Out on the horizon, he spotted a parallel formation of wide-faced peaks rushing him like a brigade of charging soldiers, so he dropped to his belly and swiveled into position, paddling toward the shore. Soon a wall of water towered over him then surged up from below. Walker sprang to his feet and tipped forward to look down, free-falling for an exhilarating second.
The board hit with a slap and raced down the face of the wave. At the trough, Walker drove his back foot hard, carving a right bottom turn that sprayed a long rooster tail behind him. Time stood still, the glassy water pitching over his head as he careened through the swirling tube in slow motion. Looking ahead like a motorcycle rider, he saw the eye of the barrel closing up. Walker braced himself for a wipeout, but his good speed and strategic positioning shot him out of the tunnel in a mist as if from a whale’s blowhole, just in time. What a way to start the day! he thought as he rode the wave all the way in.
Minutes later, he was sitting on a flat boulder in a beach chair under a broad blue umbrella marked with the word “LIFEGUARD” in white letters, scanning his area of responsibility. No one was out in the water, every surfer and swimmer having been sent home by the impending squall. To his right, an older couple held hands on the beach as they gazed out at the angry chop. Squeezing in a walk before the rain hits, he supposed, running his fingers through his long blond hair. They smiled and waved, and he returned the friendly gesture.
Walker hadn’t seen rain clouds this ominous for years, and the ocean was growing rougher by the second. Even so, he took comfort in the salty, earthy smell and the pleasant sounds of the coast, as his earliest, most treasured memory was building sand castles at Rosarito Beach with his mom. He must have been two or three. The rising tide had toppled the forts they’d made, mother and son splashing each other, beaming and giggling in the sun, reveling in the presence of their favorite person in the world.
A sharp thunderclap jerked him back to the present. Lightning bolts sizzled down from low black clouds as the rain began to pelt his umbrella and dapple the sand around him. When drizzle became deluge, he hopped off the rock and stored everything in the shed, pulled out the “Beach Closed” sign, and placed it at the bottom of the stairs.
He hurried up to the parking lot and swung a leg over his motorcycle, but just as he was about to turn the key, something down in the water caught his eye: a small white yacht racing around the bend at Big Rock, veering much too close to the jagged shore. Its skipper tossed a bag overboard before a second vessel pulled up alongside, a gaudy blue ski boat carrying three men, two of whom stormed aboard the yacht with rifles leveled. They bounded up to the helm station, where the skipper dropped to his knees and put his hands on his head. The gunmen took aim, fired—CRACK CRACK CRACK!—and the skipper fell forward, clutching his stomach. Then they grabbed him by his arms and legs and heaved him off the upper deck into the thrashing sea.
When the ski boat and the small white yacht motored away, heading north, Walker flew down the stairs to the shed, grabbed his radio, pressed to talk, and barked, “Main tower, this is Walker at Windansea!”
A fellow lifeguard’s voice came crackling back. “Copy, Walker, this is Paul Johanssen. Go ahead.”
“I’ve got a gunshot victim near Big Rock. The scene is safe and I’m swimming out.”
“Roger. I’ll send you the rescue boat.”
Walker grabbed his buoy and fins and sprinted into the shore wash, diving in. His constant flutter kick and long reaching arms powered him past the surf line despite the opposing waves. Stopping to crane his neck up and out, he treaded water for a second to find a reference point, then put his head back down and gave it everything he had as the rain stung his back like needles. He found the patient floating face down in a scarlet cloud, so he turned the body over and stared into vacant eyes. Dropping his gaze to the man’s stomach, Walker saw three stringy holes leaking wispy blood and other fluids. The man wasn’t breathing and had no detectable pulse.
He was about to initiate rescue breathing when he detected the approaching rumble of an outboard motor. Whipping his head around, he spotted Tony Park and Mark Thompson heading his way in the surf rescue boat. Park, at the helm, was a giant Asian man and one of Walker’s two best friends; Thompson, a rookie, was tall and wiry. Both wore red shorts, white shirts, and windbreakers emblazoned with the words “San Diego Lifeguard.”
Park cut the engine and coasted up as Thompson dragged the patient aboard. Walker clambered into the boat and immediately started CPR while Park throttled forward, speeding them back to Mission Bay.
“He’s gone!” Park yelled over the engine noise. “Just hang on.”
Heavy spray pelted their faces as the boat bounced from crest to crest in the driving rain. Walker grabbed a handrail. He and Thompson held the corpse down so it wouldn’t bounce overboard.
Twenty minutes later, they were standing under a covered walkway at the docks with several other members of the lifeguard service. Two emergency medical professionals, one of them an attractive woman, pulled a sheet over the corpse and turned the body over to the Harbor Police. The good-looking paramedic must have felt Walker’s eyes on her, since she glanced up to flash him a dazzling smile, then climbed into her ambulance and expertly maneuvered it out of a tight spot, cutting through the flooded parking lot as she drove away.
Park turned to Walker and Thompson. “Johanssen says Lieutenant Molloy won’t be back for another couple of hours. Race you guys to the main tower?”
It was a terrible idea. The wind and rain hadn’t abated in the slightest, and they were already at lifeguard headquarters, where they were required to be for a debriefing with their supervisor. So it was unquestionably better for them to remain where they were and simply wait, with hot showers and gallons of steaming coffee within easy reach. But no. Not these guys. Competitive to a fault, Walker and Thompson exchanged a glance, ran to the edge of the dock, dove off, and swam at full speed through the salty water with Park tight on their heels. It was half a mile across the bay to Mission Point Beach, and from there a two-hundred-yard sprint over the peninsula to the ocean side and a fifty-yard dash to the main tower.
Walker was a legendary surfer and a champion swimmer. He’d been rookie of the year in his first season, and this year Thompson was a shoo-in for the same award. Neck and neck, the two of them tore across the sand in the final sprint, touching the tower at arguably the same time. Sopping wet and heaving for air, they high-fived each other, then peered through the window and spotted Park. The former Navy SEAL was dry and dressed, cradling a steaming mug in his hands. He greeted them with a wave, feigning surprise as though it had taken them so long to arrive that he’d forgotten they were even coming.