"Old pals Nick and Rob are headin' back to college. But not to resume their studies: they're pushing 50 now, with careers and families, and they're both unemployed, laid off from well-paying jobs. Then one of them remembers an episode from their younger, more adventurous days, when they were known, occasionally, to partake of some not-entirely-legal substances. It turns out they know where to find two mason jars of a definitely illegal substance buried on their old college campus. The plan: dig the stuff up, sell it, make a quick profit. The plan's execution: well, let's just say it doesn't go entirely-or even mostly-as they thought it would. Like Donald Westlake's The Ax (1997), which features an out-of-work family man driven by desperation to find an extreme solution to his problem, Smith's novel depends on the reader's willingness to accept that an ordinary person will do some very uncharacteristic things to keep his life from imploding. A solidly constructed and nicely written comic thriller."
"Though Breathless, the fifth novel from the Massachusetts-based Smith, is a bona fide mystery, its thoughtful prose reads like one of Anita Brookner's introspective explorations. These are sentences you reread to savor even as you race eagerly after Jill to plumb that place she describes as 'between silence and word...the beguiling landscape of memory.'"
— People Magazine
The Discovery of Light
“The Discovery of Light, J.P. Smith’s fourth novel, may be his most ambitious work so far. Smith characteristically provides a compelling, suspenseful plot featuring attempted murder, deception, suicide and adultery. But he adds another dimension in his new book: a counterplot about the nature of art and the creative spirit that is a homage to painter Jan Vermeer.... But writing a compelling, intricately woven novel of suspense and human relations does not suffice for Smith – he takes this a step further. ‘None of us deserves the banality of real life,’ he concludes on the last page. ‘For us there is only the richness of art.’ ”
— The Boston Globe
The Blue Hour
“I enjoyed J.P. Smith’s severe new psychological thriller, The Blue Hour, not least for its dense description of the Paris quotidian. Grim modern violence lies very close to the fringes, but the crux of this roman noir is as ancient as Orpheus and as simple—how does a man live through the loss of the one woman he truly loves?”
— John Fowles (author of The French Lieutenant's Woman, The Magus, and The Collector)
Body and Soul
“Both chilling and funny, the story of an unlucky man in an existential horror show who blunders through with the charm of the Little Tramp. In all, ambitious, intelligent, and quite compelling.”
— Kirkus Reviews
The Man From Marseille
“This is a first novel, but J.P. Smith writes like an old pro; his style is urbane, his prose smooth and polished.”
— New York Times Book Review
My short story, "Gone," was published in The Delmarva Review in 2013.