For three years, Cassie Dewell has dreamed of nothing but catching the man nicknamed the Lizard King–a man she once nearly helped apprehend, only to watch him slip away and ride off into the sunset.
Now, after working with a federal prosecutor, Cassie, the chief investigator for the Bakken County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota, has laid an extravagant trap to catch the elusive long haul trucker who preys on helpless women at truck stops across the country. After finally securing John Kirkbride’s blessing–Dewell’s boss who has been grooming Cassie to replace him one day soon–the sting operation is green-lit.
The trap is set–now Cassie, the local police, and a team of FBI agents just have to wait…
However, unbeknownst to Cassie and the team of cops and FBI agents on-site, the Lizard King has caught wind of her little scheme and sends his truck, filled with explosives, barreling towards the scheduled drop point. Cassie watches helplessly as several officers and FBI agents are killed in a violent explosion.
Disgraced and pegged as the fall-girl for what happened, Cassie is forced to resign her post immediately. Once again, the Lizard King goes free.
Meanwhile, as Cassie’s world continues to fall apart, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled teenager whom she’d previously tried to help, vanishes. What started as two friends acting out their dream of spending the summer sailing down the river by themselves soon turns into a different kind of adventure that neither could have prepared for.
Though she was forced to turn in her badge, Cassie still possesses a keen investigator’s mind, and she promises Kyle’s worried grandmother that she’ll do everything she can to track the boy down. This, of course, is in addition to her ultimate goal of locking up–or putting a bullet in–the Lizard King once and for all.
As Cassie tackles both investigations head-on, she quickly realizes that, much to her surprise, they each seem to be leading her in a similar direction–setting up a heart-pounding final act that will leave readers breathless and stay with them long after they turn the final page.
Box, especially over the past few years, has easily proven himself to be one of the most talented fiction writers working today. While different than the “cowboy noir” style he writes with for his #1 bestselling Joe Pickett series, Paradise Valley packs a mean punch and nonstop suspense–and is definitely some of Box’s best work yet. This is certainly a top contender for his best non-Pickett book so far and a must-read for thriller, mystery, and crime fans everywhere.
Always one to land well-timed twists and turns that readers never see coming, C.J. Box unleashes some of his best surprises yet, delivering a satisfying conclusion to his Highway Quartet series that first began with Back of Beyond in 2011.
Author: C.J. Box
Series: The Highway Quartet #4
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10