Open Season(Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: May 7, 2001

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts, and the game warden–especially one like Joe who won’t take bribes or look the other way–is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he’s had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the “outfitter murders,” as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police.

As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the existence of this endangered species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.

Review –

I liked a few other books by this author so I thought I’d like this one too. Not the case. I found it boring and couldn’t wait until it was over. I guess I’m just not the Wyoming game warden kind of girl. (Sorry to all the Joe Pickett fans out there.)

Advertisements

Paradise Valley (The Highway Quartet #4) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: July 25, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

She almost caught him once. Now, he’s back.

For three years, Investigator Cassie Dewell has been on a hunt for a serial killer known as the Lizard King whose hunting grounds are the highways and truck stops where runaways and prostitutes are most likely to vanish. Cassie almost caught him…once.

Working for the Bakken County, North Dakota sheriff’s department, Cassie has set what she believes is the perfect trap and she has lured him and his truck to a depot. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the blame falls on Cassie. Disgraced, she loses her job and investigation into her role is put into motion.

At the same time, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled kid whom Cassie has taken under her wing, has disappeared after telling people that he’s going off on a long-planned adventure. Kyle’s grandmother begs Cassie to find him and, with nothing else to do, Cassie agrees—all the while hunting the truck driver.

Now Cassie is a lone wolf. And in the same way that two streams converge into a river, Kyle’s disappearance may have a more sinister meaning than anyone realizes. With no allies, no support, and only her own wits to rely on, Cassie must take down a killer who is as ruthless as he is cunning. But can she do it alone, without losing her own humanity or her own life?

Review –

This excellent conclusion to a quartet of loosely related novels that started with 2011’s Back of Beyond finds Cassie Dewell now the chief investigator for the Bakken County (N.D.) Sheriff’s Department. Cassie convinces her boss, Sheriff John Kirkbride, to approve a sting operation designed to entrap serial killer Ronald Pergram, an independent trucker who preys on truck stop prostitutes. Having eluded capture in 2013’s The Highway, the cunning Pergram gets wind of the plan and booby traps his truck, which explodes and kills several local police and feds involved in the operation, including Cassie’s fiancé. In the aftermath, Cassie is suspended and obnoxious county attorney Avery Tibbs subsequently forces her to resign. Meanwhile, Pergram goes on a kidnapping spree that leads to Cassie to contact Bull Mitchell, who we met in the first book when he led Cody Hoyt into the back trails of the park, and together they put together a tracking party and go into the park to hunt down the Lizard King. Cassie along with the ingenuity of Kyle bring down the pervert in an anti climatic end. She is later offered a job in Montana and she and her family settle down once again in new territory but this time, everyone is in agreement.

Just a warning, there is violence and a lot of  edge of your seat action. A good ending to a series that kills off a main character in book one. Just saying.

 

Badlands (The Highway Quartet #3) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: July 28, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Grimstad, North Dakota – a place people used to be from, but were never headed to – has struck oil. As pipelines snake across the prairie, oil flows out and men and money flow in. And with them, comes crime. North Dakota’s new oil capital has a serious law and order problem and newly qualified detective Cassie Dewell has just been assigned as its deputy sheriff.

Twelve-year-old Kyle Westergaard is one of Grimstad’s paperboys. Even though Kyle has been written off as the “slow” kid, he has dreams deeper than anyone can imagine – he wants to get out of town, take care of his alcoholic mother, and give them a better life. While delivering newspapers, he witnesses a car accident and now has money and a lot of white powder in his possession.

With the temperature dropping to 30 below and a gang war heating up, Cassie fears she might be in over her head but the key to it all will come in the most unlikely form: an undersized boy on a bike who keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong.

Review –

Even thought I haven’t forgiven Mr. Box for killing of Cody Hoyt in Book Two, I decided to finish the series and Badlands came next.

Cassandra Dewell, Cody Hoyt’s ex-partner, can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County.

She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom (which I looked up and is true). But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

This is a fantastic read, full of suspense and a bone chilling description of North Dakota’s weather that will have you grabbing for a parka!

The Highway (The Highway Quartet #2)

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls–and their car–simply vanish. Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety. Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, he begins the drive south to the girls’ last known location. As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren’t the first girls who have disappeared in this area. This majestic landscape is the hunting ground for a killer whose viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence. And he might not be working alone. Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle…Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill? Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and find this killer before another victim vanishes on the highway?

Review –

I’m sure I was not the only reader/listener that exclaimed WTF  when a six of the way through this book Cody Hoyt was killed off. (Sorry for the spoiler but I am pissed!) 

Here I am reading The Cody Hoyt Series, Book Two and BAM he is shot more than once in the face, at close range, and buried  his truck and all. I had to stop listening for several hours because I was in total disbelief. Surely the author, made a mistake, maybe it’s a dream sequence, like in Dallas, but no, it was for real.

The series has since been renamed The Highway Quartet, but killing off Cody killed more than just his character. It meant that his ex-wife, Jennie, and his son, Justin, won’t be in future books. Nor will Gracie and Danielle Sullivan and their  divorced parents because there were all part of Cody’s world.

I went on the finish listening to the book and one of the bad guys was caught (no spoilers here-but Cassie, Cody’s partner, learned well from him) but the main baddie, The Lizard King (a trucker who preys on women and rapes, tortures and kills them) gets away.

There are two more books in the series and I will read/listen to them but they just won’t hold the same appeal to me since Cody will be missing.

Still can’t get over why C. J. Box would kill him off!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Back of Beyond (A Highway Quartet #1) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: August 2, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Cody Hoyt, while a brilliant cop, is an alcoholic struggling with two months of sobriety when his mentor and AA sponsor Hank Winters is found burned to death in a remote mountain cabin. At first it looks like the suicide of a man who’s fallen off the wagon, but Cody knows Hank better than that. Sober for fourteen years, Hank took pride in his hard-won sobriety and never hesitated to drop whatever he was doing to talk Cody off a ledge. When Cody takes a closer look at the scene of his friend’s death, it becomes apparent that foul play is at hand. After years of bad behavior with his department, he’s in no position to be investigating a homicide, but this man was a friend and Cody’s determined to find his killer.

When clues found at the scene link the murderer to an outfitter leading tourists on a multi-day wilderness horseback trip into the remote corners of Yellowstone National Park–a pack trip that includes his son Justin–Cody is desperate to get on their trail and stop the killer before the group heads into the wild. Among the tourists is fourteen-year-old Gracie Sullivan, an awkward but intelligent loner who begins to suspect that someone in their party is dangerous.

In a fatal cat and mouse game, where it becomes apparent the murderer is somehow aware of Cody’s every move, Cody treks into the wilderness to stop a killer hell-bent on ruining the only thing in his life he cares about.

Review –

I believe this is my first read/listen by C.J. Box and found out the Edgar Award-winning author has built an impressive career with mysteries and thrillers set amongst the small towns, vast expanses, and rugged beauty of America’s rural and backcountry areas.

Along with his terrific series starring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, Box has penned some impressive standalones (Blue Heaven and Three Weeks to Say Goodbye). This novel brings back Cody Hoyt, the maverick, alcoholic cop first seen in that latter book. Hoyt is now living in the Montana mountains, struggling with the mess he’s made of his life; he’s two months sober, divorced, disliked and distrusted by many, and barely sees the son he loves. Things get worse when a body is found in a burned cabin in the woods, and Hoyt realises it’s his AA sponsor Hank Winters, the only man who’s kept him off the ledge recently. Despite initial evidence to the contrary, Hoyt can’t believe Winters fell off the wagon and was burned to death in an alcoholic stupor, accident or suicide.

Determined to find a killer others don’t even believe exists, Hoyt digs himself into an even deeper hole when he shoots and wounds the county coroner in a botched stakeout, and is suspended from duty. Badge or not badge, Hoyt can’t let go, and is driven to find justice for one of his only friends – and perhaps, in doing so, a small measure of salvation for himself.

When clues point Hoyt in the direction of an outfitter leading a multi-day horseback trek, a trip that includes Hoyt’s estranged son, he – and the novel – shifts focus to the remote ‘back of beyond’ that is the magnificent, rugged landscapes of Yellowstone National Park. On the hunt for a killer disguised amongst the motley crew of tourists. A killer that is far too close to the only thing that Hoyt really cares about in his downward-spiralling life.

The story lulls a bit for a brief period as it switches from Hoyts misadventures following Winters’ death to the pursuit through Yellowstone, as an intriguing cast of characters on the horse trek are introduced and we adjust to their layered interactions. But Box gives readers a terrific sense of Yellowstone, especially its mix of beauty and danger (with or without the added human element). Box’s wilderness isn’t just a pristine or spectacular backdrop, a natural curtain in front of which the action is played out – it’s layered and textured itself; Mother Nature in all its vim and volatility. It’s clear that Box has a real appreciation and understanding of the great outdoors, which comes through in the authentic evocation of the landscapes.

It’s a great read and I will definitely be reading more from this author.