Back of Beyond by C.J. Box

Box, C.J. (2012). Back of Beyond. Minotaur Books; New York. 

Although not specifically based around his best-known character, Joe Pickett, this C.J. Box novel has much in the way of action, adventure, and suspense to offer to the contemporary reader. I was most excited about the setting of the novel in Yellowstone National Park – which ends up blood-soaked from the trail of bodies as cop and protagonist Cody Hoyt hunts down a dangerous killer.

There are what I consider to be the ‘typical’ elements of a C.J. Box tale included: a young, brave, and hyper-sentient character who takes over a portion of the narration; a jaded, humble, and introspective adult character with a keen eye for the details; and a murder mystery plot with a twist at the end.

I see in all of C.J. Box’s characters a strong inclination towards nature and family. They are also characters with realistic, human traits – contrasting, possibly, with literary action-superhero figures like Clive Cussler’s fictional Dirk Pitt. In this particular novel, readers can feel Cody’s flaws (chain-smoking, alcoholism, and bad behavior) as demons that he seeks to conquer for the love of his son and ex-wife Jenny. In the Joe Pickett series of novels, the main character has a simple love for his three daughters and is often portrayed “alone in his pickup truck, accompanied by his dog or perhaps his sidekick” (CJ Box, 2014).

Overall, a great author and an exciting series to get into for anyone interested in murder mystery stories set in national parks. Joe Pickett is a Wyoming Game Warden, and I think of these novels as valuable portrayals of people working in the great outdoors. Highly recommended!

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