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The Highway    by C. J. Box order for
by C. J. Box
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I'd heard good things about C.J. Box thrillers, this is the first one I've managed to lay my hands on, and it left me wanting more. As The Highway opens Montana Sheriff's Department Investigator Cody Hoyt and his former rookie partner, plump single mother Cassie Dewell are at odds - for good reason. She's just turned her mentor in for planting evidence at a crime scene.

Corrupt Sheriff 'Tub' Tubman has long been out to get Cody (who not only repeatedly cut corners but regularly 'invented new corners to cut') and he jumps on the opportunity, which he carefully set up. How else could he get rid of Cody, given his legendary string of successes? Facing the loss of his job, Cody (an alcoholic) goes on a binge. Then his son Justin calls, seeking his help.

Soon readers meet the Lizard King, a serial killer who's long targeted lot lizards, prostitutes who worked truck stop. We see him in action as he scores another victim. But then his path crosses that of teen sisters Danielle and Gracie Sullivan as they drive cross country. It's narcissistic Danielle who recklessly and repeatedly puts them in harm's way - she's intent on reaching her ex-boyfriend, Cody's son Justin.

Danielle had been texting Justin constantly until she and Gracie met the Lizard King. When the texts suddenly stop and Justin can't get an answer on her cell phone, he becomes very concerned and calls in the marines, i.e. his dad, who sobers up fast and is soon on the road to the girls' last known location. Knowing that Tub manipulated her and that she owes Cody, Cassie offers to help - she stays home, working the phones and accessing databases.

Unfortunately they're not against a lone serial killer. The Lizard King has partners and a hideaway. When Cody falls off the grid, Cassie sets off on her own to track him down as well as the lost girls. She's lucky that there's no honor among villains as all concerned are soon fighting for their lives. In The Highway, C.J. Box delivers another chilling thriller with shocking detours and a twisty ending. Highly recommended.

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