Back of Beyond by C.J. Box
I am always on the search for a story which keeps me guessing whodunit. I can usually figure out the “surprise” ending long before the intended reveal—not the case with Back of Beyond! Author C.J. Box kept me hooked by maintaining a beefy plot and avoiding blatant withholding of key elements to piece together the outcome.
The book starts with a murder investigation which leads detective Cody Hoyt to fall off the sober wagon when he realizes the victim is a friend. He enlists the help of his partner as he works around the system to try to identify and catch the killer. Cody commits every moment to finding clues and putting pieces together. The trail takes him through Yellowstone Park where Cody faces intense challenges of the wild and his ever-present battle with alcoholism.
The other characters stay at a distance, as if in parallel to Cody’s way of handling relationships. I felt his heartbreak when he talked to his ex-wife and silently cheered him on as he tried to reach out to his son. Until life-threatening events take place, Cody struggles to trust himself, not to mention others. He waffles between completely trusting his partner on the police force and wondering if he’s really a back-stabber.
Forced to rely on a stranger for help, Cody travels deeper into the forest—the Back of Beyond—and is thrown into the unforgiving wake of the killer. His determination to avenge his friend’s death and rescue his son from the killer’s path fuels Cody to rise above his mental and physical torments.
I was quickly engulfed and convinced I was seeing the story unfold through the eyes of the detective. Quick to be a critic, I am certainly satisfied with the intertwining of suspense, heartache, and adventure offered in Back of Beyond. Don’t start this one at bedtime or you’ll be up all night turning pages to find out what happens next.