Back of Beyond by C. J. Box

Back of Beyond
C. J. Box


Cody Hoyt is a rogue investigator for Montana’s Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department, returning to his home town after the job and more went wrong in Colorado. He’s thirty-eight, divorced, and a recovering alcoholic. When his AA sponsor dies in a suspicious cabin fire, Cody is sure it’s murder. A clue points to a wilderness adventure outfitter and an upcoming trip to Yellowstone National Park. Is this the same trip his teenage son, Justin is about to take?

Cody is determined to stay on the wagon and avenge his sponsor’s death and he will do anything to protect his son. But how can he find Justin and the group which is traveling by horseback in the park’s back of beyond? It’s not long before he has broken too many rules to count and is forced to turn in his badge and weapon. As he goes off on his own, Cody’s only help comes from his ally in the department, Larry Olson.

In an exciting story that alternates between Cody’s investigation and the group’s trip, readers will try to assemble the clues and facts. Meantime, the power struggles and dynamics between the group and its guides is a fascinating study of human behavior. Several characters act suspiciously, some are downright unlikable, and some are fools or just plain weak. Justin is indeed on the trip, as well as two sisters from another family. One has sharp insight and the other has eyes for Justin, giving the story a nice balance of the teenage point of view.

As members dissent and others disappear, readers know it is only a matter of time before the killer is identified. But whether Cody can find the group in time is another matter. Good luck even trying to figure it out. You will need to read to the wild finish to learn all the connections!

Back of Beyond is a highly entertaining mystery adventure. This is the first C. J. Box book I have read and I’m sure I will read more. Of course, there is the required suspension of disbelief during certain developments, but I think that is part of the package in this genre.

What I liked best about the story is the way Box describes Yellowstone because it made me want to book a trip. An avid outdoorsman, Box takes pride in writing about things he knows. I’d say it shows.

C.J. Box is the author of twenty-seven novels, including the popular Joe Pickett series. Back of Beyond is a standalone novel and he has several others, including Blue Heaven (2009), which won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel.

You can learn more about C. J. Box from this short interview from the 2016 ThirllerFest.

Have you read anything by C. J. Box? Are you a Joe Pickett fan? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


18 thoughts on “Back of Beyond by C. J. Box

  1. Twenty-seven novels! Wow! I can’t imagine. I’ve never read anything by C.J. but I appreciate the introduction, Barbara. Cody sounds like a hero you can really cheer for. Enjoy your weekend!

  2. I am very impressed when someone writes twenty-seven novels! So much passion for their craft! As you say, when a writer writes firsthand about a place he really ‘knows’, the story is that much more of a rewarding read. You feel as if you really have visited this place…you travel there in the book! 🙂

    1. We read Back of Beyond for the Whodunits Mystery Book Club I run at the library where I work. The whole group enjoyed it very much. We watched the video I included here. Box is very likable in the interview. Makes me want to read more. Thanks for the visit, Noelle – hope you are doing well!

    1. Nice! I’m between books and trying to decide what to read next. I had to read Back of Beyond for my library job (mystery book club) but I really enjoyed it. That’s always a win. Now I can read whatever I like until the next mystery book!

      1. That’s a good question! I had to check my library account to see as my memory is awful 😂 Blue Heaven is one I read from there, the other was one I bought, read & donated to a charity shop so I’ll likely never remember what it was called! That was a standalone one though I’m pretty sure, not in the Pickett series. xx

      2. Haha – I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I tend to pick standalones because I don’t want to commit to a series. I imagine, though, that the Joe Pickett series is very readable, even if you start in the middle. 🙂

  3. It’s been a long time since I read a mystery, but I’m a big Tony Hillerman fan and this book, with its Yellowstone setting, reminds me of his work. Spectacular setting, horses, and an appealing but flawed protagonist — sounds right good 🙂

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