by C.J. Box
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received for review from Amazon Vine
I am a C.J. Box fan. I’ve read the entire Joe Pickett series (15 books) so when “Badlands” (Minotaur 2015) showed up on my Vine list, I grabbed it, hoping this might be the start of a new series. It is the story of criminal investigator, Cassie Dewell, who leaves a job in Montana for a new post in Grimstad North Dakota, center of the American oil boom. The town is undergoing massive cultural and social changes due to the skyrocketing oil business. Cassie immediately is caught up in what seems to be an open-and-shut auto accident that ends up mired in drugs, vicious Salvadoran hitmen, and corrupt police.
The story is fast-moving, fascinating to read, with lots of intriguing clues and well-developed characters. The setting is the wild badlands of the frigid American northern states, a perfect location for Box’s signature nature descriptions. It includes two distinct point-of-views, Cassie’s and the twelve-year-old boy who ends up unwillingly in the middle of his town’s drug sales.
Cassie Dewell is an interesting character. We are introduced to an overweight, atypical detective who is leaving a job where she wasn’t well-respected, maybe running from a past that could be viewed as good or bad. As she grows with her new job, we as reader develop respect for her ability to line up the clues and connect the dots. Like all good mystery storytellers, Box doesn’t always explain what’s going on, just throws the puzzle pieces out there for us to mull over.
My only problem with the book was it didn’t include Joe Pickett. Maybe a cameo, some time in the future, CJ? Could you make that happen?
Overall, a satisfying read that delivered on all of its promises.
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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.