Paradise Valley

Author: C.J. Box

For three years, Investigator Cassie Dewell has been on a hunt for a serial killer known as The Lizard King. She almost caught him...once. Working for the Bakken County, North Dakota sheriff’s department, Cassie has set what she believes is the perfect trap and she has lured him and his truck to a depot. Standing by, ready to close the net, are half a dozen undercover officers, including Cassie’s fiance Ian. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the blame falls to Cassie. Disgraced, she loses her job and an investigation into her role is put into motion.

At the same time, Kyle Westergaard, a troubled kid whom Cassie has taken under her wing, has disappeared, telling everyone he is going on a long-planned adventure. Kyle’s grandmother begs Cassie to find him and with nothing else to do, she agrees—all the while planning a new trap for The Lizard King. But Cassie is now a lone wolf. And in the same way that two streams converge into a river, Kyle’s disappearance may have a more sinister meaning than anyone realizes. With no allies, no support, and only her own wits to rely on, Cassie must take down a killer who is as ruthless as he is cunning. But can she do it alone, without losing her own humanity or her own life?

Paradise Valley (Cassie Dewell, #3)

Publishers Weekly (starred review):

Bestseller Box’s excellent conclusion to a quartet of loosely related novels that started with 2011’s Back of Beyond finds Cassie Dewell now the chief investigator for the Bakken County (N.Dak.) Sheriff’s Department. The intrepid, appealing Cassie relies on her keen investigative instincts to hone in on Ronald Pergram in this top-notch thriller, which makes vivid use of the American West.

The Washington Post:

“Paradise Valley” reaches the same level of frightening realism that made C.J. Box’s “The Highway” so terrifying. A sequel to that novel, “Paradise Valley,” makes an excellent conclusion to Box’s gripping The Highway Quartet novels that have evolved into a hunt for a serial killer who works as a long-haul trucker. Box keeps “Paradise Valley” taut, with twists that are as suspenseful as they are believable. Terrifying scenes at a truck stop, at a remote cabin and on a hilltop are not easily forgotten. The intuitive Cassie continues to display her acumen, and we hope Box will find new stories for her and for Kyle, who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Although Box never allows sympathy nor empathy for Pergram, Box does show a glimmer of humanity that remains in this killer. Box, best known for his long-running series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, has become one of the best purveyors of stories about the new American West. He vividly recounts how this part of North Dakota has gone from a boomtown to a near bust with unfinished subdivisions littering the landscape. As “Paradise Valley” moves to Montana, Box shows that the best travel writing delves into a region’s environs.


Whether you are a fan of the Joe Pickett novels or are unfamiliar with Box’s work, you must read the deceptively titled PARADISE VALLEY. Box is at his absolute best here, introducing interesting and memorable characters throughout the book and mixing them into a suspenseful, well-conceived and perfectly paced plot.

Library Journal:

Box's many fans will devour this dark thriller, which is sure to be another hit for the author.

Criminal Element:

This is my first C. J. Box book, and it won’t be my last. He’s got a firm grip on his terrain as well as a good feel for small towns and how they function. Cassie is smart and determined (and frequently funny), and she pits herself against a foe that Box could easily have turned into a caricature, fitting him into the cookie-cutter-killer mold that populates so many thrillers. But he didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the Lizard King is a nightmare (he uses shock collars to control his captives), but Box details a bit of his past that shines a light on the monster that he’s become. In the end, he’s just a man, one that Cassie is determined to bring down. Fans already familiar with her character (from The Highway and Badlands) will be thrilled, and new readers will certainly find a new addiction.

The Globe and Mail:

C.J. Box is one of America's finest mystery authors. His long-running Joe Pickett series never fails to break new ground. Paradise Valley marks the return of North Dakota investigator Cassie Dewell and is the third part of the Highway Quartet – don't miss the other two before you read this superb new book...This is one of Box's best.

The Providence Journal:

C.J. Box gives his stalwart series staples Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowki a book off, but Cassie Dewell proves to be every bit their equal in the perfectly plotted “Paradise Valley.” Box’s trademark Hemingway-esque minimalist prose is on keen display as usual, and in Cassie Dewell he’s created a female protagonist every bit the equal of more traditional male genre staples. Riveting and relentless.

Crime Review:

CJ Box shows that his character portrayals are not limited to masculine types like Joe Pickett: Cassie’s world is filled in convincingly, detailing her frustrations both as a law enforcement officer and as a mother of 12-year-old Ben and daughter of ex-hippie Isabel. The sections dealing with Pergram make him a credible antagonist, too, notwithstanding his warped and terrifying behaviour...the gripping plot soon makes it difficult to take a break for reasons other than a house fire or other major emergency, and the final pages produce a truly satisfying conclusion. It’s great stuff.

Red Carpet Crash:

A thrilling chase through small town America in the Northwest with compelling characters and a compelling bad guy in The Lizard King highlights this story of determination to capture a serial killer.