Note: This awesome review was written by my friend and fellow thriller fan, Beth Soles. See more details about her at the bottom of the page!
While trying to decide which epic novel by CJ Box I would review, I kept going forth and back (you really can’t go back until you’ve gone forth) between Back of Beyond and The Highway –Back, being the first Cody Hoyt novel, and Highway being the second. While I enjoyed them both immensely, I decided to go with The Highway because it’s the one that shows the world that CJ Box has cojones. Big cojones. You’ll see what I mean around chapter… never mind. You’ll get there.
When Box decides to make a character realistic and flawed, he does it very well. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and it is never a simple fix, but a flaw or a struggle that doesn’t ever go away completely. Box gets the balance right between story and the character development, knowing that a good story needs both, and needs it to be well balanced.
The Highway starts off where Back of Beyond leaves off for Cody, a recovering alcoholic. He’s holding onto his job by a thread when the thread suddenly snaps and he’s plunged into utter despair. He knows he’ll never get another law enforcement job, and that it will wreck havoc on any chance he may have had in restoring his marriage. The inevitable happens: he falls off the wagon, and it backs over his head. What could be worse? Enter Cody’s son with news about two of his friends who have suddenly gone incommunicado while on their way to visit him.
Hoyt is one hot mess, but he’s a brilliant cop, and he’s likable in spite of his flaws. You want to root for Hoyt to get his life in order, and you know he can, but will he stay sober long enough to find the missing girls before it’s too late?
When we first meet Cassandra Dewell, she’s spying on her partner, Hoyt, while eating a chocolate covered doughnuts. Cassie (thank you CJ for not making her a Victoria Secret model-turned-cop, I will forever love you for making her normal), like Hoyt, is flawed, but in different ways. She’s still new on the job, but she is smart, and a fast learner. Hard on herself for her role in Cody’s downfall, she tracks him down to apologize for her role in his demise.
And then everything goes sideways, forcing Cassie to up her game, find her confidence to help Hoyt out. Along the way, she often asks herself “What Would Cody Do,” and she realizes that even though sometimes his methods may, ummm, skirt the law, was it always wrong?
Regardless of the subject matter, which is difficult to stomach, the story is perfectly crafted and told convincingly. Never over-the-top descriptive with details of “the crimes,” there’s just enough to let your imagination fill in the rest.
The characters in all of Box’s books seem so real that you might would run into them if you traveled in their neck of the woods. Some you’d love to meet, others — like The Lizard King —you’d rather not. CJ Box is a six-star writer on a five-star scale. If you haven’t met his characters, it’s about time you did.
Author: C.J. Box
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: July 30, 2013 (Order now!)
About the guest reviewer
Beth Soles is a writer, editor, and graphic designer for Shannon Miller Lifestyle, as well as a freelance editor. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in writing and editing from Western Carolina University where she studied under Edgar Award-winning author, Rick Boyer. A fan of thrillers and mysteries, writing reviews is a new venture that she hopes will help new and established authors and readers find each other.