We discovered C.J. Box a year or two ago at The Book Place. By accident. Mom was reaching for another title when she accidentally bumped a C.J. Box book. It plopped onto the floor. Mom picked it up. Read the synopsis. Checked it out. We really liked the American west/great outdoors settings. Read our first Box book, The Bitterroots, cover to cover in one sitting. (See our full review of that first C.J. Box novel here.)
Same thing with a couple subsequent Box mystery-thrillers, Paradise Valley and Wolf Pack. Only this time mom made the mistake of starting the former in the evening. Pro tip: Don’t do that unless you can stay up all night reading. Cuz it’s a barn burner from the get-go.
Rugged outdoor settings and strong female leads make Paradise Valley a dual stand-out in the genre. Like investigator and Montana native Cassie Dewell. Now in Bakken County, North Dakota, she’s been trailing a serial killer for years. He haunts highways and truck stops. Anyone he picks up or grabs vanishes.
By C.J. Box
Deputy sheriff/chief investigator Dewell sets what she thinks will be the perfect trap. But it all goes sideways and she’s the scapegoat. Dewell quits her job but remains under investigation.
Then a young man whom Dewell has taken under her wing goes missing along with some other suspicious disappearances. Dewell starts sniffing around and puts two and two together.
It’s a riveting, heart-pounding and desperate race against time as Dewell searches for young Kyle and a long-haul trucker who’s a stone-cold killer. Can she track down the killer and find Kyle before he runs out of time?
By C.J. Box
A little older and wiser, Mom started Wolf Pack the next day (earlier in the day). It was our first meet-up with Joe Pickett, a “Dudley Do-Right” game warden based in the hinterlands of Wyoming.
When another colleague, Katelyn Hamm, finds some idiot using a drone to kill off deer and elk, she’s ready to throw the book at them. So is Joe. As they track down the culprit, the investigation turns over more and more stones. And more and more creep-crawlies come slithering out.
Suddenly the FBI and the DOJ are involved. Over the investigation of an illegal drone operator? Something doesn’t smell right, especially when FBI agents threaten both Katelyn and Joe and “hint” – with the subtlety of a freight train – that continuing to sniff around will land them in a world of hurt.
Meanwhile, dead bodies are piling up all over Joe’s district. Joe begins to suspect the deaths are tied to vicious drug cartel killers known as the Wolf Pack. The more he investigates, the tighter the noose gets around his own neck – and his family’s.
Box’s fast-paced, gritty mystery thrillers are always a bit rough around the edges. Tightly written, relentless and action-packed, they’re not for the faint-hearted. But if you’re ready to buckle up, they’re a high octane ride.
We’ll be keeping an eye out for more from this talented author.