Mysterious Book Report No. 318
by John Dwaine McKenna
Our author this week needs no introduction, as his name has become synonymous with the modern American West. We’re referring of course, to the prolific and award-winning Wyoming writer C.J. Box, and his beloved character, Joe Pickett; the iconic Wyoming Game Warden, all-American good guy and dedicated family man. Now, Mr. Box has another character that the MBR thinks will become just as iconic, and just as beloved by readers.
Paradise Valley (Minotaur Books, $27.99, 340 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-05104-2) features a female detective named Cassie Dewell, who’s been trying to catch a serial killer known to law enforcement as The Lizard King. He’s a long-haul tractor-trailer driver who kills truck stop prostitutes, known slangy as Lot Lizards. Cassie almost caught him three years ago, but he escaped and continued his indiscriminate and wanton cross-country bloodshed. Cassie herself is now working for the Bakken County, North Dakota, Sheriff’s Department. She’s set what she thinks is a fool-proof trap, luring him and his truck into a local depot. But the plan goes horribly wrong, he escapes again, and Cassie is blamed for the failure. She is disgraced and loses her job after an inquest by her political enemies lays all the failure on her. At the same time a boy named Kyle Westergaard disappears. He’s a troubled teen Cassie was mentoring, who’s been telling anyone who’ll listen, that he’s going on a big adventure. Cassie agrees to try and find him, while at the same time, she’s hunting for The Lizard King. She’s on her own following two faint trails which converge in the remotest of places . . . where the indefatigable woman will have to fight for her life. This one is a thriller-diller from start to finish. It’ll keep every reader nailed to the page as thrill follows thrill, and adventure follows adventure, as a plucky and determined brave woman hunts for a monster who’s terrorizing the highways. C.J. Box is at his best.