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At Their Own Game [Kindle Edition]

Frank Zafiro
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
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Book Description

Jake Stankovic has been flying below the radar for years, dealing safely in stolen property crime with his two-man crew. But times are tough, so he decides to step up to the big money with a drug deal. Everything that can go wrong, does. The deal goes bad, a vengeful detective sets his sights on Jake, one of his crew might be a turncoat, and a woman from a long past affair suddenly reappears. All of this would be complicated enough on its own, but for Jake, it's even worse.

The woman is the detective's ex-wife.

And Jake Stankovic used to be a cop.

Now Jake must face new problems and old vendettas in an all-in proposition with lives on the line. He has to find a way to get his money back, keep the girl, and beat everyone involved...At Their Own Game.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Frank became a police officer in 1993 and retired in 2013 as a captain. He has written and taught courses at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, written several college courses in police subject matter and co-authored A Street Officer’s Guide to Report Writing. Many of his stories and novels take place in the fictional River City, a mid-sized city in Eastern Washington, with recurring characters. The River City series of crime novels begins with Under a Raging Moon. Frank has authored numerous books, including crime novels with Jim Wilsky (Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds) and Colin Conway (Some Degree of Murder). Over fifty of his short stories have been published in more than a dozen different anthologies, as well as print and online magazines. His story “Good Shepherd” was a finalist for the 2006 Derringer Award. In 2007, his story “The Worst Door” was a finalist for this same award. His story “Dead Even” was a finalist for the 2009 Derringer Award. These and other short stories are gathered together in three River City collections: Dead Even, No Good Deed and The Cleaner. In addition to writing, Frank is an avid hockey fan and a tortured guitarist. His wife, Kristi, supports both. You can keep up with him at where he maintains his blog or the blog he shares with Jim Wilsky at He also writes under his given name and you can check that out at

Product Details

  • File Size: 1781 KB
  • Print Length: 246 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Frank Scalise (January 31, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I6I7ALU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,818 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Settle in for a great read April 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jake used to be a stand up kind of guy- he was even a cop at one time.

Somewhere along the way Jake went down the wrong path and turned into a hustler- dealing with “hot” merchandise. That was bad enough but then he decides to get in even deeper and gets involved in a drug deal.

Things take a nosedive and when you think they can’t get any worse for Jake- toss in a detective from his past and make it double bad- a woman from his past to0.

When you read this fast paced crime thriller, you think this author has definitely done his research. Then you realize this is a bit more than research. If you are like me, you check his bio and see his police career background- perfect fit for crafting this story.

This story absolutely sizzles with intrigue, crime and maybe even a little of Jake’s own regret for taking the low road that he now has to somehow get off of to save himself. Can he outsmart the detective or is he kidding himself? The woman from his past- what is her connection and is she legit or is this a ruse?

There are many layers in this story and as you slowly peel the onion (known as Jake) you see things that were, at first, well hidden.

Excellent read.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant crime novel July 14, 2014
By Alex
Format:Kindle Edition
Honestly, this might be one of my favorite reads this year! I’m not always big into mystery or crime thrillers, but when I do venture into this genre, I manage to find hidden gems like this!

The voice of Jake, the main character, sounds like a classic noir detective, which I love. Only this time, the main character is an ex-cop turned petty criminal. So this book started good and just got better for me. I love morally grey characters, so I was totally onboard this story from the get go. All of the characters have their own personality, and the dialogue really shines in this aspect. Seriously, the dialogue might have been my favorite part. It sounds real, in that noir fashion, and it really made me love everyone, even characters we probably weren’t supposed to like. Jake, Matt, Brent, Helen, Faulkner, Ozzy, Damon. Everyone. Of course, in a story like this, who knows which character you’re supposed to like anyway.

I thought the plot was going to be pretty straightforward until close to the end, actually. Then the twists just kept coming, one after another, until I was desperately turning the pages, wanting to know how it all ended. And I devoured this book in only a few hours, loving every minute of Jake’s evolution from a cop and “not a bad guy” into, well, the type of complicated character I love.

I wasn’t surprised to find out the author has experience on the police force, as everything about the story rang very true to life, something I rarely find in books lately. And even though the characters are never described in terms of real physical attributes, I somehow still got the gist of everything, and the story moved fast enough that it didn’t matter in the end. Everything we needed to know about the characters is right there in the words, expertly written.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different Take on a Detective Novel November 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
At Their Own Game was a different take on a detective novel. The protagonist this time is Jake Stankovic, who used to be a police officer until he was ousted from the police force by another officer with a vendetta against him for sleeping with his wife.

Now Jake is a property crime thief, considering stepping up his business into drugs. But he considers himself “one of the good guys”. The good guys don’t deal in drugs. They don’t murder. But this deal goes sour and Jake loses all his money. To make matters worse, that detective that had a vendetta against him is back on his tail.

In a miracle moment a woman from his past walks back into his past and presents him an offer he can’t refuse whereupon everything starts to fall apart.

I found the plot complicated, yet plausible. The author did a good job with the character development and the plot twists. I never suspected that the protagonist would do what he did, but perhaps that’s just my naïve belief in people.

The pace of At Their Own Game was excellent. It moved along quite nicely and had a fair amount of action. It did not lag at all. The dialogue was natural and smooth.

There was a lot of foul language in this book, so if that offends you, I would suggest you give this book a pass, otherwise, the plot and storyline are very interesting and will hold your attention if you enjoy the suspense genre.

I rated this novel at 4 out of 5 stars. If you are a crime and suspense fan, I think you’ll enjoy this different approach to the genre.

Thank you to the author who provided a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

This review was published on my blog Shelf Full of Books
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Twists on the Thrill of the Chase September 13, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
When I read the description of this book at, it got my attention right away. The "hero," Jake Stankovic, is a relatively successful thief with a crew of two, but there's a big difference: Jake used to be a police officer. Then when I learned the author is a retired law enforcement officer with a number of writing awards under his belt, I started to think seriously. And when I was able to download it free as part of my trial membership in Kindle Unlimited, well, let's just say I got right to it.

As it turns out, it was a great decision. Jake, it seems, now has been a criminal longer than he was a cop. As the property-stealing business heads into a slump - meaning a big drop in income for the trio - Jake decides to make a move into the drug market with what he hopes is a quick deal. Not only is it not quick, it doesn't go as planned, leaving Jake to try to figure a way to salvage their financial investment. Then, something else unplanned happens: a woman he used to know (yes, in the biblical sense) back in his police days shows up on his doorstep.

As if that weren't enough, the woman is the ex-wife of a detective from Jake's old department - and the detective has never forgiven Jake for stealing "his" woman and causing his ugly divorce way back then. Ever since, in fact, he's had it in for Jake big-time, and now he's caught wind of the drug deal and doubled his efforts to get even by putting Jake behind bars (or worse). As the action heats up, Jake begins to smell another rat; quite possibly it's emanating from one of his partners in crime, who's spilling his guts to the detective.

More details would give away too much, but I WILL say that there are a number of twists and turns; while some headed down expected paths, the destinations were not. The result? An intriguing, well-written story that's definitely worth reading (and the 246 pages fly by in no time at all).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story had lots of twists and turns
Kept me on my toes. I recommend it.
Published 15 hours ago by Carole Stapleton
4.0 out of 5 stars Crossing the line
Interesting read for those who adhere to the policy of one bad step leads to another. Descent plot until the third rule was broken.
Published 1 day ago by Larry Williams Jr
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Good quick read that I enjoyed throughout. Believable characters. Good plot twists and turns. I will read more by the same author.
Published 1 day ago by J. Hodges
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Good book
Published 3 days ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed this book. Couldn't decide whether to cheer for the good guys or the crook. Kept my interest.
Published 4 days ago by Louise
4.0 out of 5 stars Great to find a writer who explores the darker side ...
Great to find a writer who explores the darker side of humanity and isn't afraid to show it. Not everything in life has a happy ending. Read more
Published 5 days ago by James D
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
I loved it
Published 5 days ago by jmac55
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting and gritty crime story. I'm definitely planning to read more of Frank's work in the future.
Published 5 days ago by Ray Tappan
4.0 out of 5 stars Unwrapping many characters
Well, this book is easy to follow. The good guys are not as they seem. Detective Falkner is willing to use devious methods to achieve his end. Matt and Brent have hidden agendas. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Cindy Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love it
Published 7 days ago by Barbara Miller
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More About the Author

Frank served in the U.S. Army from 1986-91 in Military Intelligence as a Czechoslovak linguist. In 1993, he became a police officer. During his career, he worked as a patrol officer, corporal, and detective. In 2002, he became a sergeant and entered into leadership roles. He was fortunate enough to command patrol officers, investigators, K-9 officers (and their dogs!), and the SWAT team. Frank retired from law enforcement in 2013 as a captain. Since then, he has taught law enforcement subject matter at community college, university, and as an independent consultant teaching leadership to police agencies. He also teaches a series of writing workshops.

Frank began writing seriously at about thirteen. In 1995, he started the first draft of "Under A Raging Moon," which would become the first book in the River City series of crime fiction.

Since then, Frank has completed a number of novels set in River City, a fictional version of Spokane, Washington. The River City series is published in paperback by Gray Dog Press and currently sits at four volumes. Other Frank Zafiro books are also set in River City, including mysteries such as "Waist Deep" and "Lovely, Dark, and Deep", starring Stefan Kopriva, and "Some Degree of Murder", written with Colin Conway. Other novels are set in Spokane proper, such as "The Last Horseman" and "At Their Own Game", or elsewhere, such as the Chicago setting for "Blood on Blood", written with Jim Wilsky.

Frank has been rated the #1 author for police procedurals on Amazon, and remains one of the top ranked authors in that Amazon category. Frank's books are available in all formats -- paperback, ebook, and audio book.

In addition to novels, dozens of Franks' short stories have been published in magazines (print or online) and numerous anthologies.

Frank also write mainstream fiction under his real name, Frank Scalise, including his hockey novel "All That Counts" (Gray Dog Press,February 2010) and a children's series about Sam the Hockey Player, which began with the middle grade title "The Hardest Hit."

Frank resides near Spokane, Washington, with his wife and son. He is an avid hockey fan, reader, movie lover, and a tortured guitarist.

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