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Back of Beyond
Cody Hoyt Series, No 1
C.J. Box

Minotaur Books
2011 / ISBN: 0312365748
Police Procedural / Montana / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: The night before Cody Hoyt shot the county coroner, he was driving without a purpose in his county Ford Expedition as he often did these days.

Cody Hoyt was a brilliant cop. But that was before he was thrown out for breaking the rules and being an alcoholic. By tiny steps, he is trying to work back to his own life, as those of his ex-wife and son. He has now been sober for two months. The murder of his AA sponsor and friend risk his sobriety and, even more, the safety of his life and his sons’.

From the opening sentence one is intrigued by the protagonist. He is not an admirable character; in fact he’s more anti-hero, than hero. Having lived with one however, Cody is a classic alcoholic and son of an alcoholic. Unfortunately the son, Justin, seems almost too good. Grace, one of Cody’s two daughters, is a character one can’t help but like. The relationships have the ring of truth—Jed, the ex-wife’s new husband who is trying to form a bond with her, and Cody’s son Justin, and who doesn’t know quite what to do with his own two teenage girls, one being Grace, who has the classic relationship of siblings who know just how to push each other’s buttons. The complexity of today’s relationships is very well depicted.

Box has an excellent ear for dialogue. Even at a gruesome crime scene, there is realistic banter. He has an eye for detail that becomes almost too much, when it comes to crimes scenes, yet provides an appropriate feeling of revulsion for what has happened.

This is not Box’s best book, but I loved seem him branch beyond the almost too moral character in his other series. There were some problems with the premise, but I was never tempted to stop reading. The investigative details are well done. Although there is a major coincidence, it is necessary to trigger the action. There was some very good suspense even if I felt it went a bit over the top toward the end.

“Back of Beyond” is the beginning of a series I’d really like to see develop.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011