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Back of Beyond: A Novel (Cody Hoyt / Cassie Dewell Novels, 1) Paperback – May 1, 2018
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Praise for Back of Beyond:
"One of the most suspenseful wilderness thrillers since Deliverance. And Box's characters are so real that you want to reach out and shake their hands or flee from them as fast as you can." ―Associated Press
"Terrifically entertaining stuff that comes together with a bang in the end." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Timeless, gripping. It resembles and Agatha Christie whodunnit but with horses, bears, wolves and hunting rifles." ―Publishers Weekly
"A perfect introduction to the novels of C.J. Box." ―Booklist
"If Box isn't already on your list, put him there." ―USA Today
"One of the best mysteries of 2011." ―Seattle Times
About the Author
- Publisher : Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250199336
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250199331
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.44 x 1.09 x 8.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The plot is just too elaborate ever to make sense. For example <spoiler warning>, picture an experienced back country outfitter who learns of hidden treasure in the mountains. Is he going to (A) go after it alone, with mules as pack animals to haul back the loot, or (B) go after it with a dozen tourists and no means of carrying back all that heavy money? (A), you say? Me too. No one with half a brain would pick (B). This guy would have canceled his trip and made up a story about scouting a new route, and used that pretext to grab the cash. (B) makes no sense at all.
And then <another spoiler warning>, think about a woman who is going after said loot. Is she going to (A) hire an individual outfitter to take her up there alone to grab it, or (B) adopt a false identity, befriend some guy and (later) his two teenage girls and join up with a bunch of tourists, with no extra cargo capacity, to get the money? Yeah, I'm gonna have to go with (A).
Those are only the most significant plot holes, but there are more. Including <third spoiler warning> the idea that it makes sense to (A) go around killing a bunch of recovering alcoholics around the country to "protect" the loot, and thereby raise all kinds of suspicions, rather than (B) simply going after the loot immediately so there's no chance they can get there first.
And then <fourth and fifth spoiler warnings> there's Gracie, who at one point starts wondering inexplicably about some hidden maps that she's never seen and is never told about. And how about the idea of simply murdering pretty much everyone who even might raise an alarm, such that the survivors must either die too and have their deaths somehow covered up, or they will in turn raise the alarm? Which brings me back to the idiocy of trying to recover treasure as part of a tourist expedition.
Or how about a character named Donna, who gets called "Jennifer" for no reason about a third of the way into the book?
And then there's the part where Hoyt wears a wire to elicit a confession, but the perp doesn't admit one single thing, and then the authorities arrest him anyway, even though nothing's changed.
Don't get me wrong. I do really like Mr. Box's work. This book is definitely a deviation from his normal standard. But one more quibbling note, which I see in every one of his books: It's ungrammatical to say, e.g., "Bill wished that he WOULD HAVE closed the door." It's correct to say "Bill wished that he HAD closed the door." Sorry, but that's been bugging me.
A dead body is found in a burned out cabin. Everyone is of the opinion that it was an accident caused by a man who was drinking too much. Cody doesn't agree. The man was his AA sponsor and Cody just can't bring himself to accept the evidence at face value. His unwillingness to allow the case to be closed and the binge drinking that results causes Cody to be put on leave.
As the story progresses, Cody learns his ex-wife has allowed his son to go on a trail ride tour of Yellowstone Park. His concern is that the man who is leading the expedition is also the one he suspects killed his friend. Despite being told to stay close to town, Cody sets out to find his son and bring him home. Cody is even more certain of his suspicions when his hotel room is set on fire overnight as he travels to catch up with the pack train.
The trail ride group is composed of quite a few people who may, or may not, be part of the plan to sabotage and possibly kill part of the participants. Several of the riders have ulterior motives that are gradually revealed while Cody races to find his son. The suspense kept me turning pages as I wondered who and what was the real reason behind all that happened.
Top reviews from other countries
I really enjoyed this, i usually read in the evenings but found myself sneaking off to read during the day too, such was its attraction.
It centres around Cody Hoyt, alcoholic detective battling a lot of demons. He is called to investigate reports of a body amongst a burnt down cabin and, because he knew the deceased and refuses to accept the obvious evidence that it was a tragic accident, starts of a trail of discovery and wilful disobedience, resulting in his suspension.
The other view point is from a group of adventurers who have paid to go on a 'once in a lifetime' adventure with Jed McCarthy, off the radar (hence Back of Beyond) through remote parts of Yellowstone park. With participants ranging from teenagers to more mature adventurers, tensions rise and the carefully planned trip soon goes wrong.
Cody is on their trail, partly as he suspects the arsonist is in the party but mainly because his son by his ex wife has joined the trip with his soon to be step father for a bonding holiday and is potentially endangered.
All in all, the pace is excellent with enough twists to keep the reader on edge.
The book takes Cody Hoyt, an alcoholic, out of control policeman on the edge of being suspended and puts him into a situation - a murder of a good friend - that is likely to suffice in pushing him over the edge. Hoyt is not the very likeable type of protagonist and while rough around the edges (good), the author would have done better to define him in a more elaborate way - as it is, he could be claimed to be somewhat of a stereotype.
Even so, the book goes along at a good pace and there is a sufficient number of developments and complications to keep you engaged throughout. The search for the murderer takes the our protagonist to the Yellowstone Park proper, where the nature takes a prominent part in the proceedings, and the narration.
Apart from the less than complete main character one could also criticize the rather abrupt ending. While I do not at all mind books ending in the middle of events, here it looks somewhat rushed, as if the time to finish ran out for the author (as some other reviewers have pointed out).
For fans of crime fiction the book delivers well enough in my opinion, even if - according to those more familiar with his work - this cannot be said to be the pinnacle of his achievements. The action is well paced, the environment it is set into stunning, and there is enough of a mystery preserved to keep you guessing about the likely perpetrator a long time into the book. Certainly good enough for me to try some of the author's other work, like his Pickett series ( Open Season (Joe Pickett 1) ).
More to the point, I don't often feel that a 370 page thriller is too short! I had to stop several times to do something else to string out my enjoyment of the deftly handled plots.
After the final shoot-out, I did feel that the loose strands of the story were dealt with in rather a hurry - there's quite a comical moment when the hero asks if those listening have heard enough, when actually really the only person speaking is himself! Maybe the author was being hassled to deliver the manuscript?
No matter. This is a very enjoyable page-turner. I think one secret of its success may be that CJB creates a number of attractive likeable characters (whatever their incidental faults) with the result that you do care. I haven't read any of his other books yet, but in that regard he reminds me of the great Michael Connelly.