Search This Blog

Friday, 9 December 2016

VBT, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, & #GIVEAWAY - Mexican Hat Trick (The Blackfox Chronicles Book 4) by TS O'Neil


Contemporary, Action/Adventure



Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare—south of the border.

Add to Goodreads  |  BookLikes

Michael saw the small panel truck approaching in the distance, trailing a cloud of dust many times its size. He heard the faint sound of the helicopter again, but this time, it seemed closer. He looked back at the mountain and could see it now—a bulbous-nosed blue dot transversing the mountainside as if looking for something. Not good, he thought, not fucking good at all.  He watched as the small, nimble craft changed direction, now advancing towards the box truck. Michael estimated the truck was slightly less than a mile away.  He  held his thumb up and measured the size of the aircraft against it—he estimated the helicopter to be about forty feet long. At a distance, Michael could cover the helicopter with his thumbnail—he estimated the bird to be about 10 miles away. It was now rapidly closing the distance and decreasing its altitude—as if preparing for a strafing run.

Their weapons were down by the lagoon, leaning on the rocks that lined its edge. He ran for the lagoon. There was an AK-47 that had the required range and oomph to take down the aircraft, and he needed it.  Clive, Eddie, and Beth stood at the edge of the water watching as he ran towards them. “Weapons,”said Michael, yelling as loud as his overworked lungs would allow. The two men scrambled to pick them up and then ran toward Michael. The effort saved Michael about twenty feet or just a few seconds, but every second counted in a time bound game. He grabbed the AK from Eddie turned and accelerated back up the sandy incline. Michael bolted up the road, leaving the two other men—quite literally in his dust. He reached the desert floor, and took aim at the chopper, but lowered his rifle. Eddie caught up to him and doubled over to catch his breath. “Why aren’t you firing?”

“We’re out of range,” said Michael. “And we don’t know what they want.” 

As if in answer, the helicopter turned it’s cargo door toward the path of the vehicle and a loud whoosh followed by a streak of propelled fire launched toward’s the truck. The warhead exploded a few feet behind the truck’s cargo compartment—apparently, the shooter did not account for the truck’s forward motion. “Holy shit,” said Clive. “He’s got a freaking RPG!”

Michael couldn’t believe what he was seeing—some madman had fired an RPG at the vehicle from inside the helicopter’s passenger compartment. He was pretty sure he knew who that was. The copter went around for another pass—perhaps to allow the shooter to reload. “Come on, let’s go,” said Michael. He broke into a run towards the truck, as the helicopter slowly circled. Michael felt he was in range and fired at the  helicopter. Tracers spaced every third round outlined the arc of fire that fell well short of the hovering aircraft. He witnessed the ineffectual results and began running again, hoping to close the distance on the helicopter before the shooter could fire the RPG again.

The copter moved to take up a hover on the dirt road, directly in the truck’s path. That maneuver brought the aircraft closer to Michael, but still not within his rifle’s range. He aimed it and elevated the barrel above the target—hoping to lob in an arc of bullets. The rounds fell short, and he elevated the barrel hoping to walk them onto the target when he ran out of bullets. He had no additional magazines. Eddie ran forward with the MP5 and handed it to Michael. He tried the same with the MP5, but given the weapons shorter range, he might as well have been spitting at them. Michael handed the empty weapon back to Eddie and looked with alarm at the hovering helicopter—the shooter had finished reloading and was aiming the rocket launcher towards the oncoming truck 

Michael reached down and picked up several large rocks from the ground. “Help me,” he said. Eddie looked puzzled. “Help me pick up some rocks.” Eddie nodded in understanding, reached down and began collecting some large rocks. Michael ran to close the distance with the helicopter as if hovered perpentidular to the road, just a few feet from the ground.

Michael had two large rocks—one in each hand. He got within thirty feet of the aircraft and launched a rock at the open passenger compartment. It flew over the helicopter. Michael ran forward again and let fly the other projectile. The rock flew through the air, arced into the open compartment and into the shoulder of the firer. The force of the impact turned him to the right just as he was squeezing the trigger.

The primary motor of the rocket fired and launched the projectile into the cockpit as the secondary motor fired and drove the warhead into the aircraft’s control console. The exhaust from the chemical-fueled motor burned the pilot’s face and blinded him. He reflectively pulled on the controls and drove the helicopter into the hard-packed dirt road. The craft turned over on its side, and the blades of the motor rotated into the hard packed desert earth and collapsed with the thunderous and calamitous sound of wrenching metal. The aircraft’s fuel tank ruptured and bled aviation gas onto the already blossoming fire.

They all stood mesmerized by the conflagration. A figure engulfed in flames struggled to escape the fire. He crawled from the inferno and rolled in the dirt as he screamed in pain and fear. Clive held up his pistol and aimed it at the man. Micheal suspected the burning figure was most likely the heartless son of a bitch who killed Jimmy, the DEA agent, in cold blood. He put his hand on Clive’s arm and forcefully pushed it down, so the pistol was aimed at the ground. “Let the bastard burn.”

Amazon UK  |  Amazon US

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Okay, I’ll begin with my childhood: My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsyJust kidding that was Dr. Evil, from Austin Powers. My name is Tim O’Neil, and I use the pen name, T.S. O’Neil. My childhood was very ordinary. I was a marginal high school student with an overactive imagination and an uncanny ability to piss people off. I joined the Marine Corps Reserve to toughen myself up. It did broaden my horizons somewhat and led to a full ride ROTC Scholarship that got me through college, although based on my last deployment, I’m still paying for it.

I am currently fifty-seven years old and originally from Newington CT. I went to undergraduate school at Northeastern University in Boston and have an MBA from the University of Phoenix in Technology Management.  I spent a good amount of time in the military; first as an enlisted Marine in the Marine Reserve, then about ten years on active duty as an officer in the Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army and I finished out my career in the Army Reserve.

During that time, I traveled a lot of the world, picked up Spanish as the Army sent me to language school and managed to have a lot of fun and while mostly avoiding combat. While most sane people view being shot at as merely a life threatening situation, those in the military look at it as an opportunity for career advancement. Well, based on that, I was a miserable failure as I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meaning wherever I happened to be, peace was breaking out like mad. 

I was supposed to jump into Omar Torrejon Airport with the Rangers during Operation Just Cause, but instead, I went on to the MP Officer Advance Course. The invasion took place in December of 89, as I drove home to Connecticut for Christmas break and members of my former unit parachuted into glory.  Later, as I sat in Panama enjoying the new era of peace and prosperity, Operation Desert Storm took place. My luck finally caught up with me, and I spent part of a tour in Iraq. Other than a couple of nights of rocket fire, the period in Iraq was relatively peaceful.  

I got out of the military and eventually gravitated to the IT Field.  I live in Seminole Florida with the love of my life and my wife, Suzanne and a little dog named Maggie  

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I try and mostly fail at playing golf, do some traveling, and I enjoy spending time with my wife and dog.

Do you have a day job as well? 
I am currently a Senior Cybersecurity Consultant for a large consulting company.

What book do you wish you had written? 
Harry Potter, for obvious reasons.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
I’d like to still be writing, but doing it more on a full-time basis as will be retired from my full-time occupation.

When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book? 
About five years ago, I wrote a book about a casino heist on the high seas called Tampa Star. I have written three other books since then.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I wrote a book about a casino heist on the high seas and found out some time later that I had inadvertently written my book, “Tampa Star,”in the literary category commonly referred to as “Florida Glare.”  What the hell is Florida Glare you might ask?  It’s a subgenre that can trace its ancestry back at least to John D. MacDonald’s hard-boiled “Salvage Consultant,” Travis McGee—living on his yacht, The Busted Flush, at a marina in Fort Lauderdale. Other notable Florida Glare authors are Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard, (both deceased), and Carl Hiaasen—just to name a few adherents to the genre. What makes Florida Glare a distinctly different subgenre? Well, for starters, as hinted at by its name, Florida is always the backdrop. Therefore, any book in the Florida Glare subgenre needs to take place, at least partially, in the Sunshine State.

Where do you get your ideas?
It’s a combination of real life and fantasy. For example, my latest book, “Mexican Hat Trick,” was largely based on my own experience. When I first got out of the Army in the mid-eighties, I took a job for a major apparel maker as a Trademark Anticounterfeiting Investigator. I had a military law enforcement background and was trying to get a job in federal law enforcement when the opportunity in brand protection or trademark anti-counterfeiting became available. Well, it turned out to be a job that was a lot of fun. It involved working with local attorneys and law enforcement officials in foreign countries to seize counterfeit apparel. It was some of the most fun you could have with your pants on. I hired a fellow comrade from the Army, who was a retired Special Agent in the Criminal Investigation Division. He was then working for the Immigration Service, and I got him to quit and work for me, doing seizures of counterfeit garments. He proved to be very successful at it and has a very lucrative practice doing it for numerous trademark owners. We used to do a lot of seizures in some very dangerous places like parts of Mexico and Colombia, so I thought that would make a great story, and that’s how “Mexican Hat Trick” was born. I wanted to capture those experiences, but I also wanted to increase the level of excitement by adding some murder and mayhem. 

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
As far as other authors are concerned, Dan Pollock, author of Orinoco and The Running Boy, has been of great assistance to me. I published my first book too early as it was poorly edited and hence not ready for primetime. He chided me on Twitter for not self-promoting, and I did not because I was embarrassed by the poor quality of the editing. He got me to realize that I needed to take a more active role in developing my writing career. I took the book down and re-edited it and put it back out for sale. Dan has reviewed some of my work and interviewed me on his blog. He’s a great guy and an excellent writer.

My favorite author is the late Elmore Leonard. He truly inspired me to try and write the way people actually talk. His Rules for Writing ( are meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek, but they are still good guidance for aspiring writers. Leonard’s work translates well to film, and his dialog is some of the best I’ve ever read. One of my favorite books is Norman Mailer’s “Tough Guys Don’t Dance.” The movie is actually very close to the book as I believe Mailer wrote the script. The book takes place in Provincetown, MA, a place I’ve visited on occasion as Cape Cod is close to where I grew up. The plot is littered with depraved characters doing heinous things to each other, but it actually has a happy ending. Mailer writing a thriller is like Tom Brady playing against the 49ers. You know he’s going to be living in the end zone. Another truly great book is “Deliverance.” I’m reading it now, and Dickey’s talent is his ability to write a thought evoking turn of phrase, but I really didn’t care for the love scene. (*Cue drummer for rim-shot). 

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would take all aspects of developing a novel a lot more seriously. Developing and copy editing are integral to developing a finished work as are Beta Readers.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I am going to take Dixon, one of the characters from Starfish Prime and Mudd’s Luck’s, and put him in a dystopian future state where he is besieged by cannibals and mutants while he tries to rally the survivors and resurrect remnants of civil society. It should be a lot of fun. 
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
At the beginning of Tampa Star, Char is shot in the leg while serving as a Green Beret in Vietnam. The incident that caused Char’s leg injury was based on a real event that happened to a former Army comrade of mine. In the narrative, Char is shot by a dead guy. In real life, my buddy nearly lost a leg because he killed a Viet Cong guerrilla and then pulled the rifle away from the dead man while his just dead finger still enveloped the trigger—shot by a dead guy. My friend had to be reclassified as an MP because the seriousness of the injury made him unfit to serve in the infantry. “Mexican Hat Trick” is about the counterfeiting of trademarked apparel, and that is taken from my real life experiences as an Investigator in that field. Of course, I had to pump up the drama a bit by adding some assorted mayhem and murder, but the counterfeiting is accurately portrayed.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I think the first chapter in my second book, Starfish Prime, is my favorite as it was so damn hard to write. I really wanted to lure the reader in and make him or her read more, so I worked extra hard to hook the reader with non-stop action and leave them with a bit of a mystery. It was originally three chapters that I condensed into one.

How did you come up with the title?
“Mexican Hat Trick”? I wanted to let the reader know that a large part of the book takes place in Mexico and there is some misdirection or subterfuge involved.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
If you have it in you—get it out. But realize that if you want to do it right, there are no shortcuts. Editing is part and parcel of the craft, and if you neglect that, you’ll never get anywhere. There are no shortcuts. I review a lot of books, and there are some budding authors out there that think the whole stream of consciousness thing is worthy of publication, and it may be, but most of what I’ve read thus far is not. That’s where developmental editing comes in. Another piece of advice is to do the research and don’t try and fake it. I reviewed a book, and I think the author was trying to do a slightly different version of Jack Reacher, but with a Marine instead of an Army MP as the protagonist. Well, I’m a former Marine, and I retired from the Army MP Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel, so I offered a very strong critique of the verisimilitude of the characters. The author was not happy, but that’s not my problem. If you don’t want a stinging critique, do the research. I acted as a beta reader for another author, and he had several military characters in his novel, and you could tell he had done the research, and his characters were about 99% correctly drawn. I helped him close that gap a little further. Finally, there are a lot of grifters in this field who claim to have the magic beans you need to succeed. Don’t believe them. They take the form of editors who do little, agents who don’t represent and vanity publishers who will cheat you. Still, at the end of the day, it’s cool telling people that your books are available on Amazon and it’s even cooler getting a royalty check.      

What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? 
Simple coffee or some complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare? 
A regular coffee. Except when I was deployed and I had a Starbuck’s located next to my pod in Kuwait. Then it was a double café latte with an extra shot of espresso.  

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation – who would you choose for which character?
My wife and I have this discussion all the time. One of my lead characters, Char Blackfox, is a Seminole Indian and his son, Michael is half Seminole and half Irish, so casting both would be a tough call. They are also both large guys. Therefore it would have to be someone of a similar size, although Tom Cruise seems to pull off Jack Reacher—a character who is supposed to be 6 foot five inches tall, rather well. I think Josh Brolin could pull off the role of Char. I also think it would be good to have someone who has played a Special Operator before, as Michael is a former Force Recon Marine. David Giuntoli, who played a private security contractor in 13 Hours, would be a good choice. I would love to have the Coen Brothers direct the movie version of Mexican Hat Trick as they are used to making quirky movies like “No Country for Old Men” and “Fargo.” It would have to be shot on location—in various locations in Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
How important are the names in your book?
Very important. They have to be real, and they have to resonate with the reader. Personally, I hate it when the name of a character doesn’t ring true—doesn’t seem believable. A lot of time, especially with new authors, they choose names that they think are cool but don’t resonate with the reader as they lack in believability. I could give examples, but I don’t want to get angry emails from authors I’ve reviewed. Oh, what the hell. I dissed an author who named her protagonist “Stormy” another who named a character ‘Chauncey.” The latter might be a believable name in England, but it’s very uncommon in the U.S.

Did you choose them based on how they sounded or looked, or was it completely random?
The inspiration for the character of Char Blackfox, the main protagonist in Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, and Mudd’s Luck, came from various places. I wanted to create someone memorable, and before starting Tampa Star, I had the opportunity to attend a Battlefield Walk with my Army Reserve unit on the Loxahatchee River in South Florida.

In 1838, the Seminoles fought two pitched battle against the U.S. Army. The Native Americans had experienced warriors with access to comparable weaponry as their foes— who were the usual mix of conscripts and seasoned Army veterans. More importantly, the federal troops were exhausted after having spent months on the trail in a forced march from Georgia. By all accounts, the Seminoles defeated the Army troops as the Native Americans were fortunate enough to occupy the high ground—which included having talented sharpshooters high among the branches of the ancient Cypress trees scattered about the battleground. After hearing about the fierce Seminole warriors, I decided to make them the inspiration for Char Blackfox. I researched Seminole last names and settled on Blackfox, and I made his first name Charles, but he was called Char for short, and I invented a back story to explain that—his grandfather ability to speak was addled by a stroke he could only pronounce part of his grandson’s first name—Char.

Do you read your reviews? 
Not usually. It’s like that Rudyard Kipling line from “IF”: “If you can meet with meeting triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters as the same.”

Do you respond to them, good or bad? 
Usually not. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Quick Fire
Light or dark chocolate: Dark, because it’s healthier
Favorite color: Blue
Dogs or cats definitely dogs
Tea or coffee Coffee—only in the morning
Books or movies? Books then the movie
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Sweet pickles or dill pickles? Dill Pickles
Jazz or classical? Jazz
Baseball or basketball? Neither—American Football
Bond or Bourne? Bond, James bond
Star Wars or Star Trek? The original Star Trek with James T. Kirk
Slacker or over-achiever? Slacker

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found HERE

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management.  He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne.  He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.

All are available on

Tour Organised by: Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. What is the best book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  3. Excellent interview! Looking forward to reading this book!

  4. Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

  5. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt! This book sounds like a very interesting and intriguing read!

  6. Congrats on the new book and the tour! This sounds like an exciting read! How have I missed this series?