Back of Beyond by C.J. Box

A fast-paced, twisty thriller set in the backwoods of Yellowstone in which an alcoholic cop tracks a killer, hopefully in time to save his son.

Cody Hoyt’s job as a policeman in Helena, Montana teeters delicately in balance with his self-destructive behaviors. He has nearly two months sober when he’s called to the scene of his AA sponsor’s death: Hank Winters and his cabin are burned nearly beyond recognition. Cody spins off into a drunken relapse, mistakenly shoots the county coroner, and heads out of town in search of Hank’s killer–against orders, since the local authorities see no signs of foul play. But Hank’s death is just the beginning. It seems that a brutal killer has joined a backcountry horseback-riding trip into the depths of Yellowstone–along with Cody’s son, Justin. Reeling with the DTs and enraged by Hank’s murder and the threat to Justin’s safety, Cody sets out into the wilderness to bring down a killer and bring his son back safe, even as the bodies pile up around them.

Sympathetic secondary characters include Cody’s long-suffering partner Larry, a still-hardy retired wilderness outfitter who agrees to take Cody into the backcountry, and a precocious young girl on the pack trip. Yellowstone’s natural beauty is partly overshadowed by the very real dangers, both natural and manmade, that the motley crew of near-strangers encounters in this adrenaline-charged setting. Far from civilization, there is no lack of suspects, and everyone wonders who can be trusted. While Cody searches for a killer, multiple plots intertwine and complicate beyond what he’s imagined, and he’ll have to follow Justin to the very precipice to save him.

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2 Responses

  1. In the only C.J. Box I read, I loved half, and hated half. I have read similar reviews about this one. One thing I do really like though is his descriptions of the area.

    • Yea, he does descriptions of nature pretty well. Perhaps not quite James Lee Burke – to me, the best of nature-in-murder-mystery! – but still remarkable. Which one did you read? (This was my first.)

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