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.

 

 

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The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward

Book Description:

Published: July 28, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

Review –

It took me longer than usual to listen to this book because I had purchased it through Audible and therefore I own it and could take my time. At the same time I was listening to this book several books became available through OverDrive and I had to listen to them first because you only have them for a limited time. That being said, every time I went back to The Bourbon Kings, I was immediately back in the world of the very rich and privileged and all the problems that goes along.

The family dynamic of the of the Baldwin family(pronounced Baldwine) is dysfunctional to say the least. The Father has embezzled millions from his own company and his wife’s account, the Mother, is on drugs most of the time and stays in her suite of rooms, the oldest son, Edward, is a shell of the man he used to be due to being kidnapped and tortured for ransom, which his father did not pay, Max, another son is MIA, Lane has been in New York for the last two years playing poker and keeping his distance from the rest of the family and finally Gin, the daughter who can not live without the lifestyle she has been accustomed and therefore agrees to marry a sexual sadist and controlling man because he is very very rich.

I have not read a J.R. Ward book before but I know he’s famous for his paranormal books. This one is like a Southern soap opera with a bunch of horrible people making horrible choices.

There is a cliffhanger ending, but I expected that. Too bad there are seven people ahead of me on OverDrive for the net in the series, The Angel’s Share, but while I wait I’ll find other books to read or listen to, I always do.

Five stars *****

Death By Bridle (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries #3) by Abigail Keam

Product Description

Published: March 12, 2012

Josiah is back on the trail of a murderer when she is begged by Shaneika Mary Todd to help protect her son who witnessed a murdered.

Arthur Aaron Greene III is one of Kentucky’s most prominent horse men but he is found hanging from the rafters in a horse barn with stones in his pockets and a bucket of water under his feet. The only witness is a nine year old boy who can’t remember.

Relentless in her pursuit of the killer, Josiah stumbles across years of lies and deceptions that include her dear friend, Lady Elsmere. Josiah discovers that she must go back to 1962 if she is to find out the truth at all, while making the rounds of quirky characters that can only be found in the lush Bluegrass horse country.

Fighting an unknown enemy in the glamorous world of Thoroughbreds, oak-cured bourbon and antebellum mansions. Josiah struggles to uncover the truth in a land that keeps its secrets well.

Review –

Another great murder mystery to read at any time. I love the quirky characters and the bonds forming between them.  Give this series a try.

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The First Patient by Michael Palmer

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Book Description

Release date: February 19, 2008

From the blockbuster, New York Times bestselling author comes a high-concept, high-octane thriller at the crossroads of presidential politics and cutting-edge medicine. . . .

Gabe Singleton and Andrew Stoddard were roommates at the Naval Academy in Annapolis years ago. Today, Gabe is a country doctor and his friend Andrew has gone from war hero to governor to President of the United States. One day, while the United States is embroiled in a bitter presidential election campaign, Marine One lands on Gabe’s Wyoming ranch, and President Stoddard delivers a disturbing revelation and a startling request. His personal physician has suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, and he desperately needs Gabe to take the man’s place. Despite serious misgivings, Gabe agrees to come to Washington. It is not until he is ensconced in the White House medical office that Gabe realizes there is strong evidence that the President is going insane. Facing a crisis of conscience—as President Stoddard’s physician, he has the power to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to transfer presidential power to the Vice President—Gabe uncovers increasing evidence that his friend’s condition may not be due to natural causes.

Who? Why? And how? The President’s life is at stake. A small-town doctor suddenly finds himself in the most powerful position on earth, and the safety of the world is in jeopardy. Gabe Singleton must find the answers, and the clock is ticking. . . .

With Michael Palmer’s trademark medical details, and steeped in meticulous political insider knowledge

 

 

Review –

This was my first reading/listening of a Michael Palmer book and I think I have found another favorite author, although it may take a couple more books to make sure.

I loved the characters in this storyline, especially Gabe Singleton and the interaction between him and the other primary players. The twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat ( I listened to this in my car) and I hated to see it come to an end.

I don’t know if any other Michael Palmer books have Gabe Singleton as a charcter but if not there should be. He sold me.