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  • "A great read, a darkly brooding and totally convincing tale of love and revenge, set in that much neglected period of time between the first war and the Depression: diabolically plotted and thoroughly enjoyable." ~

    -James Crumley

  • "Jim Thompson meets Zane Grey in this sequel to Smith's Buffalo Nickel (S & S., 1989). In 1930, Will Hunter, desolate after the violent deaths of his wife, Bobette, and Copperfield, his Kiowa employer, comes to El Paso, Texas, to avenge them. He intends to kill both men responsible: John Bliss, who carried out the murders, and Kale, a wealthy banker who was greedy to acquire the oil-rich Kiowa's assets. Hunter's plans to kidnap Sissy, Kale's 18-year-old daughter, and hold her hostage before shooting her father go horribly awry in a midnight confrontation at Kale's mansion. Although sections of the novel are intensely moving, they, and the most interesting and fully developed characters (Bobette and Copperfield), appear only in flashbacks...." ~

    -Library Journal

  • "Smith is an expert in illustrating the fine line between the good person and the one whose life is overrun by evil, the single act that can tip the balance, the clash of cultures that often lies at the heart of violence." ~

    -Abilene Reporter-News (read full review)

  • "The book is a suspenseful page-turner in the sense that it immediately drdaws the reader into a shadowy world of paranoia, deception, and revenge. It lingers in the mind, however, as a dark meditation on the limits of human rationality and the seething primal forces that always threaten to unravel the social fabric." ~

    -Dallas Morning News (read full review)

  • "Colorful characters, well-turned dialogue and a dusty sense of place support the relentless plotting. By skillfully mixing measures of..[the] past into the narrative, C.W. Smith delivers every last bit of suspense from the multilayered stalking that goes on in Hunter's Trap." ~

    -Mostly Murder (read full review)

  • "This is an off-beat whodunit, not forceful or propulsively paced in the usual modern sense, but carefully crafted. Smith's narrative gift is such that he charms the reader past crucial plot points. These are rediscovered only after a final-page 'gotcha' ending sense the reader flipping backward to find them. Thus is the reader caught in Smith's trap." ~

    -Fort Worth Star-Telegram (read full review)

  • "Somewhat reminiscent of the stories of Jim Harrison, Legends of the Fall, for example, Smith's novel offers an evocative exploration of the values and character of a time, a place, and a man. It's also a novel that would grace the lists of fine trade publishers, but refreshingly, it comes to us from a university press. Here's hoping that many readers come to know this skillfully wrought tale and that its success encourages TCU Press to bring us more such books." ~


  • "It's an eye for an eye - obsessive hatred, relentless pursuit and coldblooded revenge for irrevocable loss - in this hypnotic sequel to Smith's highly-praised western, Buffalo Nickel....The plot...moves inexorably to a stunning irony on the final page." ~

    -Publishers Weekly (read full review)

  • "Beautifully bitter Depression-era revenge melodrama in which good guys lose, good women die, and virtue's reward is unreasonable tragedy." ~

    -Kirkus Review (read full review)



Hunter's Trap


On the night of the vernal equinox in 1930, the novel's protagonist, Wilbur Smythe, puts in motion his plan to avenge the deaths of his wife and his employer, a wealthy Kiowa, both murdered by a banker greedy for the Kiowa's oil money. Smythe intends to kidnap the banker's seventeen-year-old daughter, Sissy, and hold her hostage to torment her father before killing him.

Hunter's Trap further explores the clash of values and cultures that formed the core of Smith's earlier novel based on historical events, Buffalo Nickel. In this new novel, he has written a blend of early twentieth-century "western" with Greek tragedy and has given the tension-filled story a sophisticated gloss of 1930s determinism and pre-Christian paganism, so that the horrific outcome of Smythe's plan to use the daughter of his nemesis has a fateful inevitability and a gruesome but implacable logic.

Set largely in El Paso and its Mexican neighbor, Juarez, the story weaves together the strong political and social undercurrents of the Depression. Beneath its texture of place and time, however, the story reasserts the age-old wisdom of how thin the margin is between good and evil in members of the human 'family.' Hunter's Trap is stylish and suspenseful, and it both partakes of and transcends the genres that inspired it. It is a literary page-turner that repays its readers from the first page to the last.


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