Thursday, August 6, 2015

BADLANDS by C.J. Box - Murders in an Oil Boomtown

Badlands by C.J. Box is set on the frigid plains of North Dakota, where the shale oil industry has created whole new boomtowns flush with high pay and "man camps" of newly arrived workers. But with the boom comes drugs and brutal criminal gangs competing for the cash-rich territory.

Arriving in the overcrowded town of Grimstad is Detective Cassie Dewell, hired to be the new Chief Investigator of the Sheriff's Department. In her previous job in Montana, she worked a serial murder case that led to the death of her police partner. Looking for a fresh start, Cassie finds herself suddenly dealing with violent gang murders and corruption that may reach into her own new department.

C.J. Box if the author of the popular crime novel series that features Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. Badlands has the new main character of Cassie Dewell, who appeared in a prior Box novel, The Highway. Cassie is mid-thirties, not very tall, and somewhat overweight. But she's a sharp investigator and a good shot when she has to be. This combination makes her character both realistic and appealing.

Badlands offers the same sweeping sense of rugged landscape and the threat of rough violence as other C.J. Box western crime novels. If this one is part of a new series built around Cassis Dewell, it's a great start.

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