The Highway

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Continuing on my C.J. Box-reading project, this brings me up to 2013. I've come to expect decent page-turning thrillers from Mr. Box. But, truth be told, I was somewhat less enthused about plowing through this one; the subject matter was kind of off-putting. But that's me.

The book is a sorta-sequel to Back of Beyond which I read back in 2014. Returning characters are Cody Hoyt, an alcoholic cop; his upright son, Justin; the admirable teenage girl Gracie Sullivan and her slutty older sister Danielle.

Unfortunately, things aren't going well for Cody. As the book opens, he's planting evidence to implicate a drug dealer in a murder; unbeknownst to Cody, this is being witnessed by his current partner, Cassie Dewell. This is not the best way to further your law enforcement career, especially when your boss despises you anyway.

But at the same time, Gracie and Danielle are being stalked by a psychotic truck driver who's developed the persona of the "Lizard King". (Yes: he's a killer on the road, his brain squirming like a toad.) Will Danielle's irresponsible attitudes toward car maintenance and sex land them in deep peril? Well, of course. Will Cody head off to the rescue? Sure.

As indicated above, all the sordid details about the Lizard King's crime spree were a slight turn-off. But Box pulls something surprising mid-book that I totally didn't see coming. (I saw something coming; just not that.) No spoilers, but I'd go so far as to say that it flouts an unwritten rule of the crime/mystery/thriller genre. Box has the ability to pull such things off.