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Murder on the Trap - A Review

This article is a review of a book called Murder on the Trap by J. Preston Smith. This book is available through Durban House Publishing Company, Inc.

Bon Sandifer is a Vietnam vet who rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Seems that lately someone from his past is seeking revenge on him by meticulously killing off Bon's family members.

Bon became a private investigator after he returned from two tours of Vietnam. In 1980, he sold that business and bought an independent insurance agency. In 1985, Bon's wife, Shell, dies in a car crash on Curly Trap Road. Then Bon goes riding with a buddy on the same road, known locally as The Trap, and his buddy is killed by a mysterious Caddy that seemed to disappear into thin air afterward. Bon is blinded in the accident and meets Diana, a physical therapist, who helps him recover his sight and brings new romance into his life.

The murders continue and Bon gathers a team around him to find the killer.

Most of the characters in this mystery ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles including the suspects. The story continues as Bon and Diana are stalked by the killer as they attend Rolling Thunder in Washington, DC, head cross-country for a honeymoon trip on the Mother Road, Route 66, and end up back on The Trap for a showdown.

Here's an excerpt to give you the flavor of this pursuit:

    "By the time Bon and Diana neared New Mexico, the man was considering taking them out. He could barely restrain himself from shooting them on the open road. After all, Texas does that to a man, he thought. Moments later, he saw the sign that read 'Rest Area Two Miles.' With one hand he pulled the small set of binoculars from his coat pocket, carefully steadied his bike with his left hand, and quickly checked on the two bikes preceding him. One minute later they veered into the roadside park. He parked his bike beside one of the eighteen-wheelers, scanned the immediate area for intruders, and then checked the .22 caliber revolver that he carried in his saddle bag."

This is a pretty good tale that forgoes automobiles for motorcycles in most scenes and spins the biker lifestyle liberally throughout. The author, J. Preston Smith, brings his personal knowledge of Harley-Davidson motorcycles to the writing of this story (he rides a Harley too and even runs an insurance agency just like the main character, Bon Sandifer). He even includes a glossary of biker terms in the back as well as a summary of the Hurt Report that every motorcyclist has heard of. He does leave out the controversial parts of the Hurt Report that involve helmets since he does not wish to fuel that debate in this book.

I found that Smith knows how to twist a tale and keep you guessing clear to the end. He's also got some great scenes about German Shepherds guaranteed to appeal to all dog lovers. Even Lance Armstrong ends up as an integral part of this yarn.

It's not often that a good mystery can also be a good motorcycle story but this book fills the bill. You won't be disappointed.

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