Published in 2011 by Minotaur Books
A person who left a comment on one of my Amazon reviews told me about C.J. Box and gave me the title to his first book featuring Joe Pickett. I found it at the library and I was hooked. If you like Michael Connelly or Robert Crais you will love C.J. Box. If you like Tony Hillerman, you will enjoy Box's descriptions of the local landscape and the people of Wyoming and Montana.
Back of Beyond is the beginning of a new series, not a part of the outstanding Joe Pickett series. It features Cody Hoyt, a broken-down alcoholic of a cop who drank himself out of a job as a big city cop in Colorado and is now in Montana, in danger of losing his last chance job as a cop. The story starts out with as strong of an opening as I have ever read: "The night before Cody Hoyt shot the county coroner, he was driving without purpose in this county Ford Expedition as he often did these days. He was agitated and restless, chain-smoking cigarettes until his throat was raw and sore."
So, that's pretty much Cody Hoyt the whole book through. He is talented, headstrong and pathetic. The only good thing he sees about life is his high school-aged son who lives with his ex-wife back in Colorado. But, there's a good cop underneath all of the junk that comes with his troubles. When his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor is found dead in a remote cabin he knows it was not the drunken suicide of a man that has fallen off the wagon. He goes against his bosses and investigates on his own and gets himself suspended (after he shoots the coroner during his investigation).
He continues to search and the sparse clues he finds point to a larger conspiracy and wilderness outfitter that leads tours into the rugged back country of Yellowstone National Park. The problem is that his son is on that same trip (yes, it's a giant coincidence, but I went with it). Hoyt has to catch them (he lives in Montana but he is hardly a woodsman), figure out who the murderer is and stop him or her before anyone else gets killed, especially his son.
Hoyt never becomes a likable character, but there is a bit of redemption in his actions as the book progresses. The supporting characters, like the retired wilderness guide Bull Mitchell and his partner Larry make the book work.
I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Back of Beyond by C.J. Box.
Reviewed on August 17, 2013.