Paradise Valley

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C. J. Box's regular series concerns Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Joe Pickett, but he took some time to pen the "Highway Quartet", and this is the last entry there.

I just finished a book where "page-turner" was unfortunately meant in the sense let's keep the pages turning so I can be done with this tedious mess. This one, like most all Box's stuff is a page-turner in a better way: holy crap, what's gonna happen?

But, consumer note, you really should read the first three in the series, in order, before you tackle this one: Back of Beyond, The Highway, and Badlands.

In this book, Cassie Dewell, Chief Investigator of the Bakken (North Dakota) County Sheriff's Department, is about to spring a trap on the Lizard King, a long-distance trucker whose sideline is kidnapping truck-stop prostitutes and (eventually) murdering them. The trap goes dreadfully awry, however, and Cassie winds up losing her job over the mess. But meanwhile, Kyle, a plucky kid from the previous book, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream: taking off with a buddy in a drift boat down the Missouri. Kyle and his friend wind up missing, and nobody much cares, except Cassie. And since she's out of a job, she decides to follow up a lead that the real cops seem to be uninterested in. And things go in unexpected directions from there.

The first book in the series, Back of Beyond, seems to be kind of an outlier, as there's no Lizard King in that tale. But Box manages to tie in a major character and locale from that book here. Satisfying.