Mystery thrillers by C.J. Box, meet Tom Stone detective stories

CJ Box Badlands

If you like the terrific thriller author C.J. Box, then you just might like any of the Tom Stone stories.

The mystery thrillers of best-selling author C.J. Box first came to my attention about four or five years ago and I finally picked one up: Badlands, where a boy in North Dakota stumbles across a car accident and a bundle of cocaine ready to hit the streets.

I’m about halfway through reading and I’m loving the characters plus how the two distinct stories of a Montana detective Cassie, and how she intersects with the boy, Kyle. The writing style is smooth and there’s some wonderful suspicion created early on with the police investigating the wreckage. When you see them later on, when Cassie leaves  Montana for North Dakota and meets them, you got to wonder if they’re part of the good guys or among the bad guys.

What struck me in Badlands were some of the similarities between his novel and our Tom Stone: Sweltering Summer Night and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead6x9_TS-DOD-FullCoverWrap-151words

C.J. Box features an at-risk kid who has a drug abusing mother and boyfriend and we feature a kid from a foster care group home.

The killers in his story make a mark on their victims and the killers in our story make a similar mark on the victims. And both stories deal with smuggling cocaine–and the moment the coke is first seen.

In Badlands, the no-good boyfriend sees the quality of coke early on while in Day of the Dead, Anthony Angelino first sees the shipment of cocaine much later on in the story.

What’s remarkable is that urban types of crimes are no longer for the cities. It’s as though the boundaries don’t matter. Small towns or big cities. Urban sprawl or mid-cities bordering rural lands, crime is crime.

Here are excerpts from Badlands and Tom Stone: Day of the Dead:


The canvas duffel bag was unzipped on the dining-room table. T-Lock clicked on the overhead  light so it shone down on the bag. It looked like the bag was being interrogated–like on television–Kyle thought.

T-Lock skirted the table and stood on the other side of it. He plunged both hands inside and came up with a handfuls of small plastic clear glassine baggies the size of a penny. The tiny baggies were filled with crystalline powder that looked like snow crust at the end of winter. The powder was bluish in color.


Angel just wanted the coke and he’d say whatever was needed to pry it loose. “Sure. I can agree to that.”

“Good. Let’s go take a look.” The man laughed and led Angel out of the office. He pointed to a stack of mattresses. “I’ll even give you one to take home if you’d like.”

“I suppose it’ll help me sleep better?”

“And why wouldn’t it? Everything we do is quality.”

The gangbanger followed behind ready for action if needed. The mustached man led Angel to a wall with a large metal door that was padlocked. He pulled a key from his pocket, unlocked it, and slid the door back.

Angel was surprised. “You call that secure?”

“Your coke’s still here, isn’t it?”

“Let’s see.”

The mustached man motioned. “After you.”

Suspicion flooded Angel. “No, after you.”

“All right.” The mustached man and the gangbanger stepped in and Angel followed. There it was. A few pallets in the middle of the room, stacked high with bricks of cocaine sealed in plastic. Angel caught his breath as he realized the value of each one. This is what he had worked for, what he had sacrificed for. It was the only reason he hadn’t tried to kill Amman and take out DeVito earlier.

He went closer and inspected the packages. The logo of the Mexican sugar skull with the blood-red teardrop was stamped on each one, just like the picture that Ronaldo had sent him while he was in prison. He closed his eyes, and in the bittersweet moment, silently thanked his friend.

Tom Stone: Day of the Dead is available from Amazon for Kindle and paperback.

For all Tom Stone Detective Story books, visit our Crime Books page.

Book Review of Tom Stone: Day of the Dead:

I have to admit to developing a soft spot for Detective Tom Stone.  He seems to be the book equivalent of John McClane from the Die Hard movies … The authors have a writing style guaranteed to draw the reader in from the first word on the first page and before you know it you are addicted to the characters and to the story.  That’s what happened to me anyway.  The story definitely hit the ground running and maintained the pace throughout the book. 

Ginger Book Geek

Click here to read more book reviews.

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