The Bitterroots by C.J. Box is the author's fourth Western-set crime novel to feature investigator Cassie Dewell, who appeared previously in The Highway and Badlands and Paradise Valley. 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.
Cassie is a former sheriff's detective in Montana and North Dakota, but she left law enforcement after bad experiences in two departments. She's now a private investigator based in Bozeman, Montana. A local attorney has a defendant in a sexual assault case and hires Cassie to dig into the background of the charges.
Cassie travels to the isolated town of Horston, where the alleged assault took place, set below the rugged Bitterroot Range in western Montana. Once there, she runs into early trouble. A powerful local ranching family wants her to quit poking into the rape charges and leave town. But Cassie finds some details of the case don't add up. As she keeps digging, she ends up arrested in the local jail. Then it gets even more dangerous for her.
The Bitterroots is a western crime novel as tough edged as its rugged setting. Author C.J. Box has another compelling read in the Cassie Dewell series.