Christopher Stone has released his first effort as a novelist, “Murder At The 17th,” a murder mystery centered around the world of professional golf set in Ponte Vedra Beach and along the First Coast.
The plot is further complicated by an impending hurricane threatening a major golf tournament. Pro golfer Jake Perrin, with a reputation for being jerk, is poised to capture the trophy when he meets his demise. Perrin’s sister hires a detective who channels the ghost of Henry Flagler to solve the murder.
Stone wrote the book with lifelong friend, Ron Johnson. They first met in Tallahassee. During the next 30 years, they collaborated on many projects — five bands, a cable access comedy show, and finally the book. The band, Incognito, was a reggae-rockers band. Stone said the pinnacle of their musical careers was recording the FSU football novelty song, “I’m A Noles Fan.”
The duo’s next collaboration was the creation of a skit-comedy cable access show entitled, Cosmic Cookie Comedy Club, which lasted for two years in the early ’90s.
Stone said they got to use their comical sense again with a final collaboration, the book.
“My co-writer Ron Johnson and I wrote this 10 years ago. Five years ago, Ron passed away from pancreatic cancer,” Stone said. Johnson never got to see the book in print.
The two came up with the idea of writing a book after discussing a mutual love of Carl Hiaasen’s style. Both had read all of his books and decided to begin a book of their own.
“They say you should write what you know,” Stone said. “By the way, ‘they' say a lot.”
Stone has a background in video production and a knack for storyboarding. As a social worker with an MSW from FSU and employed by Shands, Johnson knew mental health.
“A year before Ron passed away from pancreatic cancer in September 2014, I was teaching him the greatest game ever played — golf,” Stone said.
The friends spent the first six months on the driving range and putting green only. Every Saturday morning, they were on Bent Creek’s practice facility for two hours. On one of Johnson’s first rounds playing the course, he scored a birdie, one under par.
“It was a par 4, and after a good tee shot and a 6 iron to the front of the green, he rolled in an 18-footer for birdie,” Stone said. “A remarkable feat unheard of from a beginner.”
It seems the two had a great relationship and brought out the best in one another.
Johnson looked to Stone, a single-digit golfer, and Hiasson, a syndicated columnist, to form his philosophy.
“…Ron would say, ‘To be the best, you have to emulate the best,’” Stone said. “I think we did alright.”
Murder At The 17th is available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions.
For more information, visit www.murderatthe17th.com .