Title: The Highway by C.J. Box
Cody Hoyt Book Two
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, the New York Times bestselling author of Back of Beyond and Breaking Point and the creator of the Joe Pickett series is back.
“If CJ Box isn’t already on your list, put him there.” – USA Today
When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls—and their car—simply vanish. Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety. Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, he begins the drive south to the girls’ last known location. As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren’t the first girls who have disappeared in this area. This majestic landscape is the hunting ground for a killer whose viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence. And he might not be working alone. Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle…Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill? Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and find this killer before another victim vanishes on the highway?
C.J. Box’s newest release, The Highway, is a chilling mystery that is full of unexpected (and stunning) twists and turns. Realistic and gritty, this second novel starring Cody Hoyt is quite riveting and impossible to put down. Although it can be read as a standalone story, I highly recommend reading Back of Beyond to gain a better understanding of the characters and the dynamics of the various relationships.
Beginning about two years after Back of Beyond ends, The Highway opens with Cody Hoyt’s suspension from the Sheriff’s department for professional misconduct. He quickly falls off the wagon and becomes enmeshed in a missing person’s case involving his son Justin’s long distance girlfriend Danielle and her sister Gracie when they vanish on a road trip. Aided by his ex-partner Cassie Dewell, Cody looks into the girls’ disappearance and they soon discover that they are not the first girls in the area to vanish.
Told from multiple points of view, The Highway gives the reader a well-rounded perspective of the unfolding events. This also provides incredible insight into the various characters and their reactions to the various situations they are facing. I could easily empathize with Cody’s reasons for bending the law and the resulting devastation he feels at the loss of his job is heartbreaking. Danielle and Gracie’s terror is palpable and I wanted to slap some much needed sense into Danielle. I applauded Gracie for her courage, level-headedness and ingenuity. Cassie’s regrets and doubts are agonizingly gut-wrenching and her sense of urgency to find the missing girls quickly builds to a fever pitch.
The malevolence of the killers is frighteningly real. Mr. Box aptly demonstrates that evil sometimes masquerades as normal and ordinary. The bad guys are not necessarily who we think they are and their ability to blend in is downright frightening. Although the details are vague, the glimpses into the psyche of a serial killer are disturbing and a little bit horrifying.
The Highway is a dark and twisted tale of kidnapping, torture and murder. It is an engrossing novel and while there is no mystery about the killers’ identity, it is a suspenseful novel that is multi-layered and quite compelling. C.J. Box effectively keeps the reader on the edge of their seat with some very shocking plot twists and he brings the story to an unsettling conclusion that is poignant and hauntingly true to life.