The Highway

The Highway

C.J. Box

2013

Maybe it was a mistake for me to watch the first season of ABC’s Big Sky. Most of that first season is based on this particular book. While there are some definite differences between the novel and the TV series, all of the major plot points are there. And I knew about them before I even cracked open the book.

No regrets, though. Big Sky has been a great addition to ABC’s television lineup and I’m glad I watched it from beginning to end. Thanks to that show’s existence, I found out it was based on a series of novels by C.J. Box. And now I’ve read two of the books in that series.

The Highway picks up two years after the events of Back of Beyond. The flawed hero of the previous novel, Cody Hoyt, is still flawed. He has a new partner at the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Department in Cassie Dewell. Unfortunately, she has been manipulated by Sheriff Tubman to work against Cody, catching him in the act of planting evidence at the scene of a murder.

Justin, Cody’s son who was a part of that disastrous trip through Yellowstone, has apparently been in a long-distance relationship for the past two years with Danielle. She and her sister, Gracie, were also a part of that fateful trip. The girls have hit the road, intending to drive from their mother’s home in Wyoming to spend Thanksgiving with their dad in Omaha. But Danielle gets it in her head that Justin wants to end their long-distance deal, so she unilaterally changes plans, deciding to drive to Helena so she can convince him that she’s worth the long-distance work.

The girls’ path intersects with a long-haul truck driver who calls himself the Lizard King. This is a guy who likes to abduct and kill women in his spare time. Danielle, feeling arrogant and untouchable, develops a bit of road rage when the Lizard King cuts her off on the highway. So she retaliates by blowing by him going up a steep grade and shouting insults at him as they pass.

But a perfect storm of car trouble, getting off the main road, and a complete lack of cellular reception lead to the Lizard King catching up to the girls, making them his next victims.

That’s as far as I’ll go with the recap because the rest would involve serious spoilers if you’ve never seen the show or read the book.

As I said, I knew most of what would happen throughout the book thanks to having watched Big Sky throughout the last year. But there were enough differences to keep me interested in what was going on. And much like the season 1 finale of the TV show, the book leaves with a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m ready to go out and pick up the next in the series, Badlands.

I’m interested to see what’s in store for these characters as the series progresses. I’m enjoying C.J. Box’s writing style and the setting behind these stories. Once I finish this series, I may be tempted to check out his other series, which focuses on Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. But there are more than 20 books involved in that series. That’s a much larger commitment. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

In the meantime, I definitely recommend The Highway if you enjoy a good suspense thriller.

Feature Photo by Dimitar Donovski on Unsplash

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