Book Reviews: Badlands, Vanishing Games

By | March 31, 2016

Two great thrillers that might be dismissed because of their genre, but should be considered for any year end best lists…

Badlands by C.J. Box…It’s technically a sequel to “The Highway” but deals only a little bit with the events of that book (and it’s still-at-large deadly serial killer) and I’m not sure why it needed to tie those events in at all since the book’s main plot is more than capable of standing on its own. It’s set in a North Dakota boom town experiencing rapid population growth due to an oil find. And with a dramatically increasing population comes drugs, crime, and a hostile takeover of the local underworld by MS-13 members. All this is tied together by a missing package of drugs discovered by a kid who’s not as dumb as everyone thinks he is, and a drastic drop in temperatures: this might be the first crime novel I’ve read where our hero is just as likely to die from frostbite as bullets. Like all the best crime plots, this one centers more on a taste for regional flavor and bone-deep characterizations than mere structural mechanics, and Box’s depiction of this changing town is more “Grapes of Wrath” than James Patterson. Grade: A-

Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs…A sequel to the great crime thriller “Ghostman” (read now if you haven’t already) that might actually be better than the original as if just to prove those wrong who say it can’t be done. This time “The Ghostman” is away from the Atlantic City casino truck heist of the first book, and in the more exotic locale of Macau, helping to understand how a sapphire heist on a boat went so wrong so fast. On that failed boat heist was a package of immense value—hint, it’s not sapphires—and an American soldier for hire who’ll kill anyone to get it back. Where Hobbs beats almost every other high-end heist writers out there (instead of noirs like “Badlands” with lower-end criminals) is that he actually seems to know what he’s talking about, his books are clearly well-researched and paint a convincing world that is never too easy for our hero. I know people will scoff at a grade so high for a genre thriller, but it’s earned it’s Grade: A

5 thoughts on “Book Reviews: Badlands, Vanishing Games

  1. Mauricio Aguirre

    I can’t wait to read Vanishing Games by Roger Hobbs but I also wish that they make a movie out of it.

  2. Marco

    I really do hope that they make a movie but change it up a little.

  3. William

    I have read Ghostman and it was fabulous. Can’t wait to read the next one.
    Great review. You should be writing for magazines because most of them miss the point.
    I think some are being bought off.

  4. Katy

    I have been seeing “Off the Grid” in stores. Will be reading this and more of his books.
    Love all of his books.
    C. J. Box, wonder if that name is made up because it sounds like it.

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