Book Review and Giveaway: Bound in Silence by Christena Stephens


by 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.

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My deepest apologies – I meant to have this review up sooner, but I’ve been about half sick with the creeping crud, and I just lost track of my days! I have not yet finished the book, but I wanted to give y’all my impressions so far.

In Bound in Silence, Christena Stephens gives us the story of true crime in a small, quiet Texas town. The murders of Roy and Mae Hunt rocked Littlefield, Texas to its core. Was justice really served? What kept Jo Ann Hunt quiet about her parents’ deaths for so long? Who was the murderer? Stephens aims to shed some light on these long-unanswered questions.

Stephens sets the stage well. She gives us some history of the Hunt family and background on the town of Littlefield. It’s cotton-growing country in that part of the Panhandle. I can picture that, because I grew up in an agricultural area of Louisiana. Small town, lots of wide open space. Good, hardworking people. And yet, this horrific crime still happened.

I’m not a native Texan, but I lived there for a good little while and married a Texas boy, and we may yet move back one day. I enjoy learning about the history of and places in my second home state, and as a prosecutor, I’m very interested in true crime and the criminal justice process. Stephens does a good job of laying things out in a logical order, but she doesn’t write it as just dry, bare-bones historical fact. There is emotion in her words, and that, along with the details of events themselves, keeps me engaged and wanting to know more. I also like the historical photos that are included throughout.

I’ll come back with more thoughts after I’ve finished. I will say this: I’ve seen a review floating around that had some pretty harsh words about the grammatical errors, lack of proofreading, etc. I’m an editor and proofreader, and so far, I haven’t noticed any errors that were sufficient to take me out of the flow of the book. Read with confidence, and I hope the story grabs you like it has me.


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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One Response to Book Review and Giveaway: Bound in Silence by Christena Stephens

  1. So sorry to hear you have been sick again! You really can’t catch a break — here’s hoping the family stayed healthy.
    Love what you said about how Christena’s emotion about the subject really comes through in her words. I don’t know how it couldn’t! I plan on getting started this weekend and can’t wait to talk about it. Thanks for sharing your first impressions.

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