Bound in Silence (Lone Star Book Blog Tour)


Christena Stephens

True Crime / Texas History / Nonfiction
Publisher: Stoney Creek Publishing
Page Count: 286 pages
Publication Date: February 26, 2024

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On a nearly moonless night in October 1943, a single gunshot rang out in Littlefield, Texas. A prominent Texas doctor and his wife were found bound, shot, beaten, and murdered. The only witness: their five-year-old daughter, who was bound to silence and refused to speak about what happened for 70 years.

The heinous crime remains unsolved. For years, the courts tried to convict one suspect, but forensic evidence contradicted the prosecution’s case. Investigators, including the famed Texas Rangers, failed to bring anyone to justice.

Eight decades later, the questions linger over the plains of the Texas Panhandle: who killed the Hunts and why?

Author and historian Christena Stephens spent more than a decade researching the Hunt murders, re-examining every twist and turn in the legal process, uncovering new evidence, and drawing new conclusions about who might have been responsible. She also convinced Jo Ann Hunt to break 70 years of silence and tell her story for the first time. Armed with Jo Ann’s account, Stephens takes the reader back to that deadly night and through the years of trauma that followed.

Why did the criminal justice system repeatedly fail to bring anyone to justice? What could have scared a 5-year-old girl into a lifetime of silence? What did investigators miss? And most importantly, who killed Roy and Mae Hunt?

Bound in Silence is a true crime tour-de-force, a meticulously researched, impeccably told tale of unsolved murder on the High Plains.


My Review: 

Bound in Silence is a true story about a family who suffered tragedy and was silenced for years about it. It connects multiple murders from the last and shows their relation to one another in an astonishing sequence of events. This non-fiction crime is hard to believe, but such an important read showing a glimpse into potential failings of the justice system. 

I don't tend to read true crime books; this is my first. I often shys way from them due to the subject matter. I enjoy crime fiction, but not non-fiction, usually. However, this is a very good read and I'm glad I gave it a chance. The presentation of the main events as well as previous events leading up to them is well done and very effective at telling a story that was kept buried for years. 

One of the most interesting aspects about this book is the failing of the investigation. Not having read a lot of crime non-fiction, I am not very familiar with how many details can slip between the cracks outside of what I've seen in fictional detective stories and shows. The fact that all of this is real is harrowing and shocking - even though I feel I shouldn't be as surprised as I am. There were so many opportunities to get things right that weren't taken. 

Another highlight of this book is the way it expresses the hardships of the survivors. The trauma paired with the power older family members have is heartbreaking and it's sad how long it took the Hunts to have a semblance of peace and be heard. I highly recommend this book if you're interested in true crime, law enforcement investigations, and difficulties of survivors having their voices be heard. I give Bound in Silence a Lone Star rating of 4 stars!

Christena Stephens is a native Texan growing up amongst cotton fields and spending time exploring the nature of the Llano Estacado. After earning two Master of Science degrees, she started a project to preserve ahistorical Texas ranch, thus began her interest in history, research, and writing. She did not intend to be a historian but was mentored by the best Texas historians. Several of her writings have been published in anthologies, along with her photographs. In science and history, truths need to be accurately told. That is her mission-truth and authenticity. She still resides on the Llano Estacado enjoying sunsets and chance porcupine encounters. She is an ardent advocate of wildlife conservation and her heart belongs to her dogs.

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