In Paul’s entertaining first novel, a western-flavored thriller, two wilderness guides, Lester Wendover and Tom Smith, discover the wreck of a small plane high up a mountain pass near the California-Nevada border. Sitting against a rock is the blackened corpse of a man who could be the “eccentric billionaire adventurer,” never named, who disappeared months earlier. Lester and his girlfriend see dollar signs, and decide to play the missing man’s warring wife and son against each another, which brings a ton of trouble. On returning to the crash site, Lester and Tom find the body gone. When people start dying in “accidents” after some Cuban thugs show up in nearby Piute Meadows, Calif., Tom is forced to dust off the sniper skills honed during two tours in Iraq. Paul (Double-Edged Sword) vividly captures Tom’s high-country survival skills, as the guide devises clever countermeasures to thwart the increasingly desperate attempts to eliminate him. Agent: Jessica Kaye, Kaye & Mills. (Apr.)
“Under Tower Peak is 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.”
Howard Frank Mosher
“Bart Paul's UNDER TOWER PEAK is a superb contemporary western thriller. Paul's Tommy Smith is right up there with James Lee Burke's Dave Robichaux. He's a decent, sympathetic man struggling with inner demons and with a mystery that threatens to destroy him and his community. 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.”
T. Jefferson Parker
“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. Circumstances conspire against heroes, though, as they often do in thrillers and in life. This book is engaging as a firefight and haunting as a campfire story.”
“Under Tower Peak is a great western thriller. Bart Paul knows how to keep things interesting and his attention to detail is pitch perfectfrom 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.”
“A superior blend of thriller and contemporary western, full of gun lore and with a fine appreciation of the Sierra Nevada wilderness.”
A scenic, suspenseful debut novel turns out to be one of the best of the season. . . . The nonstop action in Under Tower Peak is well-paced, the plot twists surprising (even shocking) and the occasional humor welcome. In the end, it's that right-stuff quality known as true grit that may save Tommy Smith's bacon—and that elevates this fine first novel into a must-read book.
From the Publisher
“Named One of the 10 Best Mysteries of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal”
Paul (Double Edge Sword, 2009) makes his fiction debut with a tale of greed and violence set in California's Sierra Nevada. It's spring. Tom Smith and Lester Wendover, saddle buddies and guides for high-country horseback expeditions, are up along a mountain trail clearing avalanche debris. In the morning light, Tom spies aircraft wreckage above the timberline. The two climb to investigate, discovering the pilot's body, "more like a mummy than a corpse...like something out of an old National Geographic, a photograph of...that Bronze Age guy who took an arrow up in the Alps." It's the body of a monthslong-missing billionaire adventurer, with a trophy wife wanting him declared dead and a wastrel son preferring the billionaire's new will not be filed. Tom served two tours in Iraq as a sniper. Lester is the proverbial good ol' boy. Without Tom noticing, Lester impulsively strips a Rolex and cash from the wreckage. Later, when Tom learns what Lester has done, he realizes they can't report finding the wreck without being crucified by the law and the media as "body robbers," even though Deputy Sarah Cathcart might have the hots for him. He demands they trek back up to the crash site and replace the purloined items. They do, only to find the corpse missing, replaced by a forged note indicating the pilot survived. In the meantime, Lester and Callie, his good-time girlfriend, have contacted both the trophy wife and the son, Gerald Q, who's immersed in the Miami gangster lifestyle. That brings lawyers from Los Angeles and drug-smuggling Cubanos to the high Sierras. Tom's trusty .270 Remington deer rifle and Leupold scope solve problems for several Miami gunmen before Gerald Q's fake suicide becomes the drug lord's alibi. 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.