Badlands

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A non-Joe Pickett entry from C. J. Box. This is the third entry in his "Highway Quartet", a series of books … well, it's hard to find an overall plot or theme. Still, it's compulsively readable. This particular novel could make a good season of the TV series Fargo, if it were weirded up a bit.

The action centers on Cassie Dewell, the heroine of the previous book in the series (The Highway). Recovering from the horrors she experienced there, she's accepted a new job as chief investigator of a North Dakota town's police force. The town is in the middle of the Bakken Formation oil boom, which in the span of a few years turned it from a dying sleepy farmburg into a boom town. With attendant problems, like drugs and gangs.

Young Kyle Westergaard is the sad victim of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (Thanks, substance-abusing mom!) He's not stupid, though. He witnesses a fatal car crash, caused by a run-in between two gangs; he takes posession of an ejected bag full of heroin, meth, and cash.

Needless to say, the bad guys want it back. But mom has a boyfriend who's looking to make a quick score from Kyle's interception. Before you can say what an idiot, there's a lot of ruthlessness, violence, gunplay, explosions, and torture. And very cold weather. A real page-turner, in other words.

(There's also some bridging material to link in the previous book and I assume the next book. Which is already on my bookshelf.)