Badlands by C.J. Box


Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is one of the best of my recent reads!. C. J. Box always provides readers with great stories and plenty of action. Badlands is no exception and in this one he also passes on some very interesting information about the production of oil in the United States.

Before we get to that part of the story however we begin with Cassie Dewell who just arrived in North Carolina to help put away the Lizard King. He who has been terrorizing truck stops, kidnapping prostitutes, and killing them across the Midwest. Cassie ran into him in Montana but is now going to the Carolinas to identify and get the Lizard King incarcerated. After an interesting episode while visiting the King in jail she is heading back to Montana when she receives word that she has been hired to be the Chief Investigator for Bakken County in North Dakota!

At this point Box gives some interesting stats about oil and its recent explosion in North Dakota. Currently the state has become the second largest oil producer in the United States as it produces over a million barrel of crude oil in the Bakken Formation every day. The state’s population increased by thousands each month and mostly in that area. Unemployment dropped to less than a half percent. And suddenly Bakken County was first in the nation in building permits and the sale of Corvettes. This is what brought a lot of different people with different ideas on how to make money (drugs) as an example to the area.

Unbeknownst to Cassie just prior to her arrival a young boy, Kyle Westergaard, had witnessed an auto accident early one morning out in the boondocks where he was delivering his morning newspapers. He not only witnessed the accident but he managed to get away with a sizeable package from the wreckage right before the car chasing the wrecked car got to the scene. That package and the occupants of the second car are what Badlands is all about and it is packed full of adventure and thrills.

Kyle’s mother (a recovering addict) and her live-in boyfriend who is kind of a useless troublemaker take charge of the package and begin using it in various ways. Some of those ways help make up the story’s excitement.

In the meantime those who were chasing the automobile begin searching for the package and at the same time the police, including Cassie, are wondering exactly what is going on as some strange things begin to occur? The sheriff, Cassie’s new boss, pretty much turns over the investigation to her and she finds that some of the local law enforcement team is not on the up and up.

The book doesn’t close quickly and dramatically but it closes with lots of twists and turns. But it does continue to hold the reader’s attention all the way to the end. A very, very interesting and even informative read! Oh by the way the Lizard King is out of prison so who knows what Box has in mind for a future book?

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