Cheatgrass (Paperback)

A Tommy Smith High Country Noir, Book Two

By Bart Paul

Arcade Crimewise, 9781950691050, 312pp.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/1/2016)

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


The follow-up to Under Tower Peak is another taut, fast-moving thriller that builds to an explosive, action-filled conclusion.

Under Tower Peak was acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as one of the Ten Best Mysteries of 2013. In this sequel, Tommy Smith, the Iraq War vet and former Eastern Sierra packer, is home from war after re-upping for a tour in Afghanistan. When his old friend Dave Cathcart disappears from his ranch, Tommy answers the call to help find him. What he learns is that his love for Dave's daughter, his old flame Sarah Cathcart, has never died, but the country where he grew up is undergoing change. Stockmen are selling off water rights to the highest bidder, rendering ranches barren and the community bitter, as drugs and a dangerous new element have moved in.

When Sarah confides that her husband, a smooth-talking entrepreneur, has lost her trust and may not be all he seems, Tommy begins to investigate. Soon another disappearance leads to a gruesome discovery, and a brutal sequence of events takes Sarah and Tommy to old haunts in the high country, where once again he will need to call on his sniper's skills to save them both and to rescue her missing father.


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, Cheatgrass, and See That My Grave Is Kept Clean..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.

Praise For Cheatgrass: A Tommy Smith High Country Noir, Book Two

"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
"Wild-country noir with gripping, compelling action.” —Kirkus Reviews
"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'Brian

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, starred review

“A Tarrantino-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.” —The 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

Praise for Under Tower Peak:
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

“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