Friday 5 August 2011

A Wee Review - Back of Beyond by C.J. Box

Back of Beyond features Cody Hoyt who first appeared in Three Weeks to Say Goodbye (2009). He’s an unpredictable and sometimes violent cop who has problems with alcohol. A stereotype of sorts but intentionally so. It is clear that Box wanted to take a break from his series character, Joe Picket, who is an upstanding family man and all-round nice guy. And Box clearly had a lot of fun (if that’s the right word) with this one.

Detective Hoyt suffers the loss of his close friend and AA sponsor, Hank Winters, in a devastating fire. At first glance the tragedy could be written off as an accident. However, Hoyt’s discovery of an empty bottle of bourbon plays on his mind. Winters is the last man he expected to fall off the wagon. Unfortunately, Hoyt’s resolve to stay off the bottle isn’t as strong as his sponsor’s and he soon spirals into his old self-destructive ways. But he needs to hold it together for the sake of his teenaged son. Justin Hoyt is out of reach in the depths of Yellowstone National Park. He’s on a wilderness adventure and a tenuous lead in Winters’ murder investigation suggests the killer is on the same trip. Detective Cody Hoyt has no choice but to delve into the Back of Beyond to protect his son.

Back of Beyond is an expertly plotted and paced wilderness thriller; a great example of Box’s literary forte. He brings Yellowstone National Park to life and impresses upon the reader the awesome power of nature with his skill for descriptive prose. But he is equally adept at exploring the darker side of humanity. He constantly juxtaposes the beauty of nature with the brutality of mankind and vice verse. Tense, tumultuous and ever-twisting. Back of Beyond proves yet again how C.J. Box is worthy of the prestigious crime fiction awards he’s collected over the course of his career.


Alan Griffiths said...

Thanks for the review, Gerard; really enjoyed it. I’ve never read any C.J Box but looks like another likely candidate for my ever growing list of authors to read…

BTW I read your post yesterday. It sort of struck a chord because my own blog has been neglected by yours truly for the last few months, many reasons really but mainly due to the lazy bone that runs thru me! I think the idea of short, sharp and to the point reviews and blogs is the way to go.


Unknown said...

I just finished this yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Its my first CJ Box and it won't be the last.

Gerard Brennan said...

Alan - I appreciate the feedback, mate. Good to know I can get away with the shorter reviews!

Michael - I plan to work my way through the Joe Pickett series soon. I've read the first one and liked it as much as Back of Beyond. Found a new favourite.