It was Danielle and Gracie’s secret. A teenage adventure. A 1,000 mile drive along the spine of the Rocky Mountains to visit Danielle’s boyfriend in Montana. Their parents were never to know.

– The Highway, CJ Box

I initially enjoyed the Joe Pickett series by CJ Box. They had a strong sense of place and Joe Pickett was an interesting character. However as the series progressed I began to feel like the books were thinly veiled propaganda for Box’s views on life in rural Wyoming and the environment. I had no interest in being preached to through my fiction.

I really did love the location though and how Box brought it alive. So when I realised he had begun another series set in the wilderness and small towns of America I tentatively picked it up. And didn’t really put it down for two days.

This is a serial killer book, and this is a book about a truck driver who kills from place to place, which in theory could be untraceable…

Again, the location was interesting and vividly brought to life. The main detective Cody was not an interesting character though and the way you know the villain at the start confused me. But as the book went on and everything twisted up it became tense and absorbing. I particularly loved it when the focus shifted to Cassie Dewell, Cody’s partner. She is a single mother with a binge eating problem, new to law enforcement and only hired for diversity. Her struggles with her family, her job, and her dependence on junk food was something I could sympathise with and relate to in a way. I liked that she wasn’t a genius or a hard worn old timer, and it felt refreshing to see the investigation from a newbies eyes. It added an extra layer of tension, waiting to see if she would succeed or not.

The ending was also daring. I was surprised Box went there, and I felt for Cassie. But it was a powerful, chilling finish.

I did find the villains a little overly villainess and some of the dialogue was a bit clunky. I also did not like how sometimes abbreviations were used followed by its meaning in brackets, and sometimes a term was used fully and then abbreviated in brackets. There was no consistency, and often their usage felt unnecessary even and it read as if Box wanted to show off his research. He would use these abbreviations awkwardly, and the surrounding explanation could also be very dry, like I had suddenly stopped into his research notes. It’s amazing how lovely and vivid his writing can be in some parts, particularly the location descriptions, and how stilted it can be in others.

I also felt like there was some back story I was missing around Cody, but only now have I realised this series is spinning off from a previous book.

Overall though I enjoyed it. I wish the next in the series was out on paperback but it seems this is a very new series. I’m interested to see where it will go through.