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Book Review – Murder on the Trap by J. Preston Smith

Written by  November 30, 2005

There are motorcycle riders, and there are bikers. The differences between these two entities are not readily discernable to an untrained eye, as what separates riders from bikers is found within and cannot be determined from mere appearance. True bikers share an unspoken brotherhood, a steadfast loyalty to each other, and a commitment to uphold their own brand of justice. In J. Preston Smith’s murder mystery, Murder on the Trap, the author introduces us to one of our own, Bon Sandifer. Bon is a Harley-riding Vietnam vet who marries his childhood sweetheart, Shelly, after he returns from the war. We immediately recognize these characters because they are as familiar to us as our own friends, our own riding buddies, and our own selves. They, as we do, understand the value of the “freedom to taste air untouched by others, and to hear the voices from within that speak only when the rubber that contacts the road at seventy miles per hour is no wider than the size of two silver dollars.”

Their life together is good, both personally and professionally. Bon and Shelly enjoy the truest pleasures in life, spending time with each other, riding every weekend and cruising the back hills of Kentucky, and when Bon sells his private investigator business and purchases an independent insurance agency, the business prospers beyond his wildest imagination. Just as he reaches the high point in his life where he questions, “Why me, what did I do to deserve all this?” his world crashes around him when Shelly’s front tire explodes on Curly Trap Road sending her to her death. Bon’s life is forever changed, and now he again has to question, only this time with a heavy heart, “what did I do to deserve all this?”

An anonymous call sets the mystery in motion. A witness heard a “pop” before the tire exploded; a motorcycle had been seen racing through the accident scene. Bon was not satisfied with the explanation of Shelly’s death. He calls upon a fellow investigator who finds the evidence that Shelly’s crash was indeed not an accident. The tire exploded because it had been shot, but why would anyone want to kill his wife? The answer to that question would not be known for years to come. Bon finds solace on his Softail, but four years after the death of his wife, a Sunday morning ride ends in tragedy when a fellow biker friend is run down and crushed under a Cadillac. Was this another deliberate act meant for him? The accident results in temporary blindness, and during his recovery, Bon meets his new love, Diana, a physical therapist who is deaf and also shares his passion for riding. The plot thickens as Bon and Diana are stalked by the killer, and Vietnam memories resurface to the forefront. When the killer’s identity is finally revealed, justice must be served, and Bon turns to the men he knows he can count on.

The biker lifestyle is woven throughout this work of fiction, and the author even goes so far as to define common biker lingo for the reader. J. Preston Smith bought his first bike in 1963 and now tours on his fourth Harley, a 2000 Road King. His goal is to eventually ride each of the 11 great backroads that crisscross the U.S. Smith combines his life experience, writing talent and love for motorcycles in Murder on the Trap, and readers who share his passion will appreciate the genuine portrayal of these characters and the pace of this mystery.

This book would make a nice stocking stuffer for the biker in your life who enjoys murder mysteries. To order a copy of the book or to contact J. Preston Smith, go to www.murderonthetrap.com.


Review by Stephanie Wilcoxson