THE HIGHWAY by C. J. Box
The cover on C. J. Box’s new novel The Highway sucked me in. It immediately reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s first film, Duel. The book’s plot doesn’t spin out the same way though, but the pacing becomes grueling and unrelenting.
The novel starts out introducing law enforcement investigator Cassie Dewell spying on a house. Those events go much differently than the reader will expect. Cody Hoyt, a character from another Box novel, shows up as well and things aren’t going very well for him.
Readers are also introduced to the Lizard King, a trucker/serial killer who has a violent nature that spills across the pages in unflinching prose. The Lizard King is immediately unlikeable and threatening, as the author intended, but may be more than a lot of readers are willing to embrace. The killing done by this character, and the misogynistic point of view, is probably very dead on, but it’s also hard to take. Box is very raw, and the deep introspection on part of the serial killer is vicious.
Box has a fairly large cast of characters in this one, and he jumps back and forth in the scenes a lot to keep everything moving. Although Box has a firm hand on his plot at all times, I struggled occasionally to keep events straight. Sometimes characters, like Cassie, would drop off the grid too long, or Gracie and Danielle would talk too long about a plan for escape instead of acting on it.
The research Box has done for the novel shows up throughout regarding the life of a truck driver and the interstate and back roads. Readers get to know a lot of the real estate covered in this thriller.
This isn’t just a simple serial killer novel, though. Box has a lot of twists and turns to show his readers as well. Even though I had figured out most of the novel and what would happen, some of the plot points still caught me by surprise.
I’m interested to see what Box does next regarding this novel because there are some loose ends left hanging.