It was Danielle and Gracie’s secret. A teenage adventure. A 1,000 mile drive along the spine of the Rocky Mountains to visit Danielle’s boyfriend in Montana. Their parents were never to know.
But now the girls have simply vanished.
The only person who knows they’re missing is Danielle’s boyfriend. He persuades his father – a disgraced, suspended cop – to search for them.
But he too simply disappears.
Now it’s up to rookie cop, war widow and single mother Cassie Dewell to find them. Her investigation will introduce her to FBI’s Highway Serial Killer Task Force, compel her to confront a spate of roadside sexual mutilations and murders, and lure her towards a darkness greater than anything she could ever have imagined.
I love discovering a new author – or at least new to me (C. J. Box has been around a while and has quite a back catalogue) – and new characters that I immediately like and want to get to know more. There is a feeling of real satisfaction when you do either but both is a real win in my book and it’s how I felt reading The Highway which I really enjoyed.
The story itself is pretty simple – two girls go missing and a serial killer is on the loose. He is convinced he has a fool proof plan, picking up women in truck stops. He just doesn’t count on a renegade cop with nothing to lose picking up his trail. Make that two renegade cops as Cassie is almost as willing to go rogue as her mentor Cody Hoyt. Both are like dogs with bones, willing to stop at nothing and suspicious of everyone – rightly so it turns out.
I loved Cassie’s doggedness and her need to do the right thing, even if that wasn’t always in line with the law of the land. At the same time, she isn’t rock-hard, invulnerable. Often in these books the female detectives don’t have a family or boyfriend and so nothing to connect them to real life. This can make them hard and unlikeable. Not so the case with Cassie – she has a life in the form of a little boy. It meant Cassie was connected to the world and so it made her more human.
I also loved the setting for the story – Montana, a place I’ve always wanted to go and where the rugged and harsh landscape added to the sense of tension and dread as Cassie and Cody searched for the girls. It also added to a sense of danger, not just for the girls but for the detectives. It is a place, as described, where people are loners and don’t welcome outside interest, especially not from law enforcement.
It all made for a really cracking piece of crime writing, well-paced and well written and, as said at the beginning, I really enjoyed reading it. I will definitely be reading the follow-up, which I have read is even better, and am definitely recommending this book. Liked it a lot!