Tuesday 29 March 2022



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.

One of my favourite discoveries in the crime fiction genre in the past couple of years has been the work of author Frank Zafiro. Zafiro has co-written with the likes of Colin Conway, Lawrence Kelter and Eric Beetner to name-drop three, as well as publishing standalones, several of his own series, short story collections and YA fiction under his own name. I haven't met a book of his yet that I didn't like.

At Their Own Game is the first in his three book (to date) Spo-Compton series.

Here we follow the adventures of an ex-cop turned crim, Jake Stankovic. We get Stankovic's back story and fall from grace while on the job, with his breaking the unspoken rule of the boys in blue - don't mess around with another cop's wife. 

Stankovic and his small crew are trying to change up from fencing stolen goods, to getting a piece of the local drug action. Things are not going to plan. One of Jake's boys has been pinched and he's out of pocket with no money and no product. Options - take the hit on the chin, or try and step up and take on the bigger fish, Ozzy?    

Spokane setting, crims vs crims while staying clear of the cops, a femme fatale and some unresolved issues with her cuckolded husband, a possible traitor in the ranks, and a second new opportunity.

I really liked this one. It's a proper page-turner with plenty of little twists and tangents and off-shoots and possibilities. You get for the feel for police work, as Zafiro's years on the job show on the pages. I also get the sense that he could have been just as successful working the other side of the street. There's a wealth of knowledge and experience on display. 

The main character was never less than interesting. It's a class juggling act from Zafiro, as he's not totally lovable but I was still rooting for him and his team to triumph and come out on top. His nemesis, Kyle Falkner offers up as a worthy adversary, as does local drug lord, Ozzy and his bigger crew.

Action, violence, strategising and planning as well as off-the-cuff reactions and decision making and a satisfying outcome - all add up to a top, top read. 

4.5 from 5

Read - March, 2022
Published - 2014
Page count - 268
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback


  1. Jake sounds like an interesting and complex character, Col. And it is interesting to see how a character can work both sides of the street, so to speak. I've read a few where criminals go legit, and even become coppers. But the other way is less common - interesting!!

    1. Margot, I really liked this one, not least because of the main character and the polar opposites of his past and present careers.