Wolfs Inferno

There is a darker side to Mexico’s Baja for those who stray too far from home. Fourth in the ongoing series, WOLF’s Baja, is a gripping tale of an incorruptible Mexican marine who joins former Green Beret Sam McFadden and retired Navy SEAL Tom Wolf to battle bandidos, crooked cops, murderous sicarios, and an American ex-pat with a secret challenge.


WOLF'S Baja Synopsis

Four young American college students vanish in Mexico’s Baja. A mysterious call to the mother of one of the missing claims to know the whereabouts of her only son—but there will be a heavy price for all involved. Navy SEAL Tom Wolf and retired Green Beret Sam McFadden hastily assemble a team of Special Warfare veterans and race the clock to bring the missing home. But in the Baja, they will find that time is not the only enemy.

Excerpt from WOLF'S Baja

McFadden’s Gun Range, Kearny Plaza, San Diego

The incoming call was an unfamiliar number but McFadden gambled and picked up the phone in his office and hit the speaker button.

“Sam McFadden? Snuffy Larson. Remember me? Tom Wolf’s friend.”

            “Yeah. Pacific Cliffs. Been a couple of years.”

            “Yeah, the fight,” said Larson. “Guy named Tank tried to clean the Wolfman’s clock. Got his ass handed to him. I still have the phone video.”

            “Sure, I remember you, Snuffy. Long time. How you doing?”

            “Hanging in there. I’ll get right to it. You been following the news about those college students missing in the Baja?”

            McFadden’s heart skipped a beat. He had half-expected the call.

            “Yeah, a tragedy. To be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention until two days ago. Recognized Connor’s picture. Didn’t realize he was part of that. Thought of that morning when we first met. Assume you’re involved.”

            “I am. I’m close to Connor’s mother, Sara.”

            “So I remember.” McFadden sighed. “Close as in—?”

            “Close. Sara’s a terrific woman. Great single mom and all that means. She’s taking this hard.”

            Trying to stay neutral, McFadden said, “I can only imagine. What’s the FBI telling her?”

            “Good out of the gate but now not so much. They’re going through the motions, you know? I mean, she gets updates from time to time. Used to be daily.”

            “And now?”

            McFadden sensed anger and resignation in Larson’s voice. “Now Sara and the families go for days without hearing.”

            “The feds probably have a lot on their plate,” said McFadden.

            “True, but so much bullshit comes Sara’s way she has a hard time separating fact from fiction these last few weeks.”

            “Why the call, Snuffy? What can I do? I know a couple detectives in with San Diego Police Department but that’s as far as my connections go. They’re likely following the FBI’s lead on this.”

            A pause. Hearing a woman kibitzing in the background, McFadden guessed it was Connor’s mother. “What can I help you with?” he said. “I’d probably depend on the FBI to solve this.”

            “But we’re getting the runaround,” said Snuffy. “Seems simple enough. Follow the money. See where these kids went. Talk to people.”

            McFadden, elbows on his desk, hand to his forehead, said, “Isn’t that what they’re doing? Aren’t the Mexican authorities cooperating?”

            “Who knows?” said Snuffy. “We get the company line but it’s wearing thin. She just wants Connor back home.”

            “I can appreciate her frustration,” McFadden said, “but it’s more of a waiting game, isn’t it? I mean, what can you do?”

            Snuffy’s voice took on a conspiratorial tone. “Last week, out of the blue, Sara got a phone call from some lawyer in Mexico.”

            “I can guess where this is going.”

            “Yeah, some guy’s saying he’s seen Connor.”

            Sitting bolt upright, McFadden said, “He’s alive?” and instantly regretted his choice of words. “Sorry, didn’t mean to sound surprised. It’s just that . . . with no leads in the story . . . look, I don’t mean to appear pessimistic, Snuffy. Maybe this is a good thing if it’s true. A lead, right?”

            “Our FBI liaison thinks we shouldn’t get too excited about the call. They think it’s fake. A feeler to make some quick cash off a desperate parent. Crazy, huh?”

            “Huh, what about the other families? What have they heard?”

            “Nada. Sara’s the only one who got a phone call.”

            McFadden got up from his desk and closed the office door to muffle sounds from the indoor range. He paced. “Let me guess, Snuffy. A ransom demand, right?”

            “Of course. It’s a cottage industry down there.”

            “I’ve heard that,” said McFadden. “What does the FBI think?”

            “Said the same thing. Told Sara not to get her hopes up. The Mexicans told them they’ve never heard of the guy.”

            “So, you’re at a dead end? Sorry, bad choice of words. What do you do now?”

            “We can’t wait. Sara wants to go to Mexico to meet with this lawyer. He said he can negotiate with the people holding Connor.”

            McFadden sat on the edge of his desk. “Noooo. Bad idea. That’s a no-brainer, Snuffy. Like trying to rescue a drowning man. Pretty soon you have two drowning victims instead of one. Tell her not to do that.”

            “Tried. She’s determined. Remember, this is a desperate mother.”

            “You can’t even be sure this guy’s legit. Stick with the game plan, Snuffy. Let the FBI handle this.”

            “She’s losing patience, Sam. Won’t listen to me. Certainly not hearing what the feds are telling her.”

            “I hate to say this, but Connor may not even be alive at this point. Have you considered that?”

            “You try telling her that.”

            McFadden backed up. “Not on your life. You called, I answered. I’m telling you to stick with the game plan. The FBI is her best hope, Snuffy. They have hostage negotiators and trained rescue teams.”

            “I hear you, Sam. But we’re talking about Mexico. Anyway, my main reason for calling is to see if you and the Wolfman are interested in helping.”

            McFadden covered his eyes with his free hand. “Mexico? You kidding? Even the Wolfman would tell you Beirut is a picnic compared to Mexico these days. And the Baja is off the grid, Snuffy. That’s outside my area of expertise.”

            “That’s overplayed, Sam. Thousands of Americans go there every year. Hell, some of them live down there half the year.”

            “Ask Wolf about that. He’d confirm what I’m telling you. Stay the course.”

            “But that’s the problem. There is no ‘course’ at this point. We have to do something, especially in light of this call about Connor.”

            “Do not do this, Snuffy. I say again, let this go.”

            “At least let me talk to Wolf.”

            “He’s in Hawaii. Somewhere on the North Shore, I’d guess. Probably will be there through March. I haven’t talked to him in two months. He prefers it that way.”

            “Can you put me in touch with him?” said Snuffy. “For Sara’s sake? For Connor’s sake?”

            “This lawyer’s call is a pretty thin thread to hang your hopes on, Snuffy. I’m speaking for myself, not the Wolfman.”

            “It’s worth a shot. We . . . Connor’s mother and I . . . would be grateful for a chance to talk to him. Work with me on this, please.”

            “I dunno. The risks are huge.”

            “How about you tell his mother that? I can put her on, Sam.”

            McFadden rose from his desk, one hand in the air as if holding back the inevitable. “No. Do not do that. I don’t need to talk to her about this.”

            “She’s right here, Sam.”

            “Don’t put her on.” Won by the anguish in his caller’s voice, McFadden yielded. “Look, I’m not promising anything, okay? I’ll run up the flag and see if Wolf responds. I don’t think his take on this will be any different than mine, Snuffy.”

            “But you’ll try, right?”   

            “I will. Don’t expect anything. I’ll try to reach him, but be prepared to be disappointed.”

            “As long as we get a chance to make our case. That’s the important thing right now.”

            “Give me seventy-two hours.”

“I can only promise twenty-four. After that, we head for Mexico.”

            “Don’t do anything stupid, Snuffy.”

            “Twenty-four hours, Sam.”

            “Snuffy, listen to reason—hello?” The connection died. McFadden slumped at his desk, drained from the call. He picked up his cellphone and tapped the number Wolf had given him two months ago—along with a sworn oath of privacy.