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Trail of the Fallen

A Tommy Smith High Country Noir, Book Four

Published by Arcade Crimewise
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A suspense-filled western noir thriller set in California's Sierra mountains—for readers of Craig Johnson and C. J. Box.

Tommy Smith, former sniper and Army combat veteran, wants nothing more than to be left alone to raise his young family with his deputy-sheriff wife, Sarah, as they run a wilderness outfitting business in the eastern Sierra ranching country where they grew up.
A mass breakout at Folsom Prison shatters their mountain idyll and brings back the PTSD that Tommy hoped he'd left on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Although Folsom is a hundred fifty miles west, every new atrocity by the convicted killers places them closer and closer to Tommy and his family. The escape follows by some months the theft of prototype high-end sniper rifles from the nearby Marine base, a theft that the Corps was trying to keep as quiet as possible. Soon, Tommy discovers that the list of escapees includes a name he never wanted to hear again—that of Sarah's psychopathic first husband, whom Tommy had helped put in prison. Sidelined by law enforcement because of his closeness to the case, Tommy strikes out horseback and alone in a blizzard, where he must overcome his own demons to fight the all-too-real demon waiting for him up the trail.

About The Author

Bart Paul is the author of TV documentaries, short stories, the biography Double-Edged Sword: The Many Lives of Hemingway’s Friend, the American Matador Sidney Franklin, and the novels in his Tommy Smith High Country Noir series, including Under Tower Peak, CheatgrassSee That My Grave Is Kept Clean, and Trail of the Fallen. Throughout his school years, he spent summers working on cattle ranches and pack outfits in California’s Eastern Sierra. After living in Southern California for many years, he now divides his time between Bridgeport, California, near Yosemite, and Smith Valley, Nevada—the ranching country of his novels.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade Crimewise (August 23, 2022)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781950994526

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Raves and Reviews

Tommy Smith is back in Bart Paul’s crackling new thriller. This time Smith is pitted against a cadre of escaped convicts who make the Dirty Dozen look like a boy scout troop. Paul’s prose is as tight as a snare drum and the story races across the page like a roaring avalanche.Reminiscent of Don Winslow at his best.”—Brad Smith,author of Western Spur winner The Return of Kid Cooper and Copperhead Road 

Bart Paul has a true gift for great storytelling. Trail of the Fallen weaves through the beauty and danger of the wilderness like a rocky canyon trail full of twists, turns, and switchbacks to a satisfying conclusion. Paul captures the rhythm of Northern California and the people who live there. He describes it so well you can hear the creak of saddle leather, smell the horses, and breathe the fresh clean air of the high country.”— Reavis Z. Wortham

"Bart Paul's latest is like whiskey to a wounded soldier—harsh and burning, yet a reminder of the grace of simply being alive. . . . An intelligent, violent, western thriller."—Todd Borg, author of the Owen McKenna mystery series

Praise for Tommy Smith High Country Noir Series:
Bart Paul has a true gift for great storytelling.”— Reavis Z. Wortham
"Tommy Smith is right up there with James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux."—Howard Frank Mosher
"A western hero that's part John Wayne and part James Bond."—Dan O'Brien

"Wild-country noir with gripping, compelling action.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Fans of James Lee Burke and Craig Johnson should take note. . . . A winning series that’s worth saddling up and taking the ride."—Criminal Element

Praise for See That My Grave Is Kept Clean:

"Mr. Paul, a veteran rancher as well as an author, writes fine action scenes, and his descriptions of nature and animals can seem just as thrilling."—Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

"In clean, spare prose, Paul spins a plot of understated but still startling violence, as Smith does what he must to protect his family and stay alive himself. The third entry in the Tommy Smith series is a fine western thriller with a tender heart."—Booklist

"Exciting . . . Tommy is slow to anger but quick to defend those in need, as he does—with gusto—in the explosive finale. . . . Readers will welcome Paul’s comfortable world, with its loving relationship between Tommy and his wife, appealing animals, and true friends."—Publishers Weekly

"Readers will be transported by Paul’s easygoing prose as he lingers almost philosophically on the sparse but majestic landscape and the people who choose to make their living there. Sharing qualities with authors like Paul Doiron and C.J. Box, Paul delivers a Western-themed thriller that can easily be read as a stand-alone featuring characters as quiet and as deep as the mountains themselves."—Library Journal

"Fans of James Lee Burke and Craig Johnson should take note of this third installment of the Tommy Smith High Country Noir series. . . . Paul packs the plot with many threads that weave together nicely. . . .For [a] mix of mystery and high mountain adventure, Bart Paul has a winning series that’s worth saddling up and taking the ride."—Criminal Element

"This fine book takes you into Bart Paul's Eastern Sierras on a fast-paced thrill ride with an electric and unexpected ending. An exceptional contemporary western." —Reavis Z. Wortham, 2019 Spur Award Winner

"Bart Paul delivers a barrelhouse of a story, a tight and lyrical tale of malfeasance and evil, splashed vividly against a stunning Sierras backdrop. A terrific book."—Brad Smith, Spur Award–winning author of The Return of Kid Cooper 

“Atmospheric, gripping, and lean, See That My Grave Is Kept Clean is proof—Bart Paul has it all..”—Jeff Johnson, author of The Darby Holland Crime Series and Deadbomb Bingo Ray

Praise for Under Tower Peak:
Named One of the 10 Best Mysteries of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal
“A scenic, suspenseful debut novel turns out to be one of the best of the season. . . . Bart Paul’s debut novel displays some formidable influences—Hemingway, for instance . . . Shadows of Cormac McCarthy and Jim Harrison also flutter across the pages of this swift-moving tale. . . . The nonstop action in Under Tower Peak is well-paced, the plot twists surprising (even shocking), and the occasional humor welcome. . . . A must-read.”Wall Street Journal

Under Tower Peak has everything I look for in a thriller—big characters, big action, sharp dialogue, and the magic of place. Bart Paul brings the California mountains to life through Iraqi war sniper Tommy Smith, a tough soul who would like to forget that war and get on with his life in the great outdoors. This book is engaging as a firefight and haunting as a campfire story.” —T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Famous and the Dead and The Jaguar

“A superb contemporary western thriller. Paul's Tommy Smith is right up there with James Lee Burke's Dave Robichaux. . . . Bart Paul knows his High Sierra country inside out. Under Tower Peak is a beautifully-written, searingly honest literary thriller by a first-rate storyteller and outdoorsman.”—Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg

“A great Western thriller. Bart Paul knows how to keep things interesting, and his attention to detail is pitch-perfect—from how to pack a horse to the relationship between two modern-day cowboys. In Tommy Smith, he has created a Western hero that is part John Wayne and part James Bond. Under Tower Peak is a hard book to put down.” —Dan O’Brien, author of Stolen Horses and Buffalo for the Broken Heart

“Paul writes with spare, clean, hard-driving prose that skates along morality's knife-edge—writing reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and James Lee Burke—all the while layered with lush, keenly observed descriptions of the natural world and man’s place in it. Wild-country noir with gripping, compelling action.” Kirkus Reviews

“A superior blend of thriller and contemporary western, full of gun lore and with a fine appreciation of the Sierra Nevada wilderness. And Paul’s spare, reflective style recalls Hemingway.”Booklist, starred review
Praise for Cheatgrass:
"Set in Nevada ranching country, Paul’s stunning sequel to 2013’s Under Tower Peak brings back his tough but reflective hero, Sgt. Tommy Smith, and evokes a sense of place that seems almost timeless. . . . Each plot reveal feels simultaneously shocking and inevitable. High tension and gorgeous Americana make this a standout." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A Tarantino-like thriller that’s hard to put down.” —Booklist

“Bart Paul writes about California's northern ranch lands the way James Lee Burke writes about the Louisiana bayou country. Cheatgrass is a fast-paced, character-driven literary thriller that will leave you longing to read more novels featuring Sergeant Tommy Smith. Cheatgrass should be a strong contender for both the Edgar and Golden Spur awards.” —Howard Frank Mosher, author of God’s Kingdom and Walking to Gatlinburg

"A fast-moving thriller with a lot of tension . . . The descriptions of the landscape are wonderful.” —Daily American

"Fast-paced, this plot will leave you begging for the next novel to be released. . . . Using this gorgeous setting allows the reader to truly feel as if they’re right there." —Suspense Magazine

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