Top positive review
One hero fades, another emerges in this gruesome tale
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2017
Spoiler alert! Having finally begun to actually like Cody Hoyt, I was a bit disappointed because he meets a gruesome demise in this novel. The Highway has as its inspiration the real life serial killer/long haul trucker named Robert Ben Rhoades, also known as the Truck Stop Killer, whose trucker radio nickname was Whips and Chains. Combining that character, named Ronald Pergram's in the novel, with one inspired by real life policemen who have been caught as serial killers, along with integrating teenage girl characters from Back of Beyond, lays the foundation for the new hero of Box's "stand alone" novels: Cassie Dewell. Dewell is not fully fleshed out in the novel, and her mother, like many mothers, is annoying, but tolerable. I look forward to learning more about Dewell in the next novel. That said, Box aptly captures the impulsivity and obliviousness that plagues many teens, setting up the increasing plot tension as we know that they will be Pergram's next captives. While I am disappointed that Hoyt was murdered, I became convinced that Dewell will become a compelling character, especially in the next Dewell book: Badlands, which I have yet to read, except for the first 2 chapters that were tacked onto the ebook version of The Highway. Overall, the book ventures into areas reminiscent of Patricia Cornwell: serial killers, rogue cops, etc. Neither The Highway, nor its predecessor Back of Beyond, have enough light moments to alleviate the oppressive evil and darkness permeating both novels. I wondered why Box would choose such a subject as serial killers, except that there is always something to learn from accomplished mystery/thriller writers such as Box. Since the author has daughters, we can only surmise and hope that he is trying to alert teens and their parents and grandparents to something that the FBI knows only too clearly: independent long haul trucking is a serial killer's ideal occupation and that the country is littered with victims' bodies along long haul trucking routes. While the novel was a little too dark for me, I think it is a promising beginning for the development of a new Box hero: Cassie Dewell.