Heidi's Reviews > Back Of Beyond

Back Of Beyond by C.J. Box
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Aug 21, 12

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read from August 18 to 21, 2012

What I liked best about “Back of Beyond” was the combination of the murder/mystery component with pure action and suspense. The novel’s setting in the wilderness of the Yellowstone National Park (or “Hell-o-stone” as Gracie called it) both fascinated me and gave me goosebumps – I will never be able to browse adventure websites with the same innocent abandon after reading what this group of unsuspecting tourists had to go through.

Cody Hoyt, the novel’s protagonist, is not your normal idea of a hero. Coming from a long line of “white trash” (his words, not mine), with a failed marriage behind him, he has recently returned to Montana after getting kicked out of the Denver police force. But rather than learn from his previous mistakes, he is doing his best to burn his bridges in Montana, as well as pickling his liver with binge drinking. But despite his failings, I could not dislike Cody and found his loyalty and dogged search for justice endearing and sincere. In spite of his obvious character flaws, he will fight for justice at all cost, especially if it involves people he loves and respects. So when his AA sponsor, who Cody looked up to, gets killed in mysterious circumstances, Cody dismisses the preferred theory of suicidal death and sets out to hunt down the killer. On the wagon, Cody is a good detective – and with the help of his partner Larry he is able to connect the dots which link his friend’s death to a tourist wilderness adventure about to embark on the “back of beyond”, the wilderness of the Yellowstone National Park. When Cody finds out that his own son is booked to go on the trip, he knows he has no time to lose ….

At this point, the novel’s narrative alternates perspective between Cody’s investigation / manhunt, and the viewpoint of Gracie Sullivan, a teenage girl booked to go on the wilderness adventure with her older sister and her father. Gracie is a wonderfully refreshing character, who really made the story flow. As the reader gets swept away by her wide eyed wonder about the nature wonderland around her, as well as her terror of the events soon unfolding, the book turns from an ok thriller into a page turner. And whilst the ending wasn’t as mind blowing as it could have been, it certainly had an interesting twist and a fairly satisfactory ending – notwithstanding the mounting body count.

Box’s intimate knowledge of the wilderness is evident in his evocative descriptions of the Yellowstone National Park (I really wanted to go there – minus the villains of course). I lived through every minute of the ill-fated wilderness tour, counting my blessings that none of my camping trips has ever ended up quite as bad as that. With an ending which allows for a feeling of hope for Cody, I am hoping to see more of this unlikely hero in future novels. Back of Beyond is a thrilling adventure mystery – highly recommended to anyone who is looking for something a little bit different.
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