Mystery Month continues here at Booklist. On Likely Stories, we’ll have red-hot reading recommendations from red-hot crime fiction authors every single day of May. Today, our recommendation comes from C. J. Box, whose Joe Pickett novels and stand-alones have received some rave reviews from both Bill Ott and myself. (Bill’s review of Box’s 2001 debut Open Season heralded the arrival of a major new talent.) After this spring’s Pickett novel, Cold Wind, the next one’s a stand-alone, a hair-raising trip into the Yellowstone backcountry called Back of Beyond. When we asked Box about the best book he’d read recently, he responded with high praise for the latest by John Sandford, Buried Prey. (Coincidentally, both books are reviewed in our May 1 Mystery Showcase.)
Sometimes I think there’s a tendency to overlook best-selling authors for the purpose of reading and recommending cool and edgy ones. I know I do it. But the best crime fiction novel I’ve read recently is Buried Prey by John Sandford. It’s a blast of fresh air from an author who has been producing the fast-paced, readable, and quirky Prey series for years and years. Sandford has a way of making everything he does look easy, but it’s not. In Buried Prey, he goes back in time to Lucas Davenport’s nascent days in law enforcement (no cell phones, no DNA, no CSI) to let the reader in on what makes this guy tick. It’s a bravura performance from an old master.