C.J. Box always, always spins a great story and this is no exception. I am a fan of the Joe Pickett series but had not read any of the Highway Quartet Series. Cassie Dewell as a P.I. is clever and daring and her capabilities make sense. She has more than one puzzling case to solve. The novel opens with a break in at her new office, a call from a mysterious man who claims to have written “the” poem that started hundreds looking for the treasure he hid two years earlier, and a frantic call from an upper class woman in Florida who was conned out of her fortune. Thrown in the mix is the inexplicable disappearance of the first PI the woman hired.
Cassie is a former police office, with a past that complicates her relationship with police and sheriff’s offices. She travels to Anaconda, a former copper mining town, with abandoned mines. This was the last place the missing PI was seen and there is some reason to believe the con man lives in Montana. Through persistence, research, interviews, the ability to talk people into things and knowing when to get help, Cassie works through her various tasks, turns over lots of rocks, takes risks she shouldn’t take. A well written story with the usual parade of interesting characters resolves in some surprising and some predictable ways but all in a manner that gives pleasure.
I get a kick out of Cassie’s mother Isobel, an MSNBC watching hippie who serves as a receptionist for the business and is jealous of the new intern, April. I am Isobel. I root for her while her daughter stresses out over Isobel’s loose lips, late arrival and pettiness. On that flip side, I am a bit turned off by some of the pandemic language in the book showing Cassie thinks it’s pretty much BS when she challenges the beliefs of a guy who is hyper quarantining and worrying about new strains when everyone else is out and about. That’s me too. Sort of. But, these characters serve as stereotypes to make points here and there and Cassie is a fully wrought character who goes after corrupt cops, who seeks justice and who is raising a son and moving through life as a complex and successful human being. If she has a quality or two I don’t like, well, she ought to. I plan to go back and read more of this series. There are hints of a major Cassie Dewall case that includes a character in Treasure State who is really interesting, Kyle Westergaard, a young man with some developmental issues who she met during a very scary time. His story is one of my favorites in Treasure State.
Box’s writing style is a favorite, capturing Montana scenery and the humanity of even a passing character. You just want to go there after reading his novels. Highly recommend.