Wyoming author C.J. Box has recently released “Treasure State,” his fifth Cassie Dewell novel. The title is a clever double entendre because one of Montana’s nicknames is the Treasure State, and this riveting adventure of Cassie includes a treasure hunt.
Cassie is a former law enforcement officer who has returned to her home state with her hippie mother, Isabel and 16-year-old son, Ben. She is now living in Bozeman and has started her own private investigation business, Dewell Investigations. Box introduced Cassie in his 2013 thriller novel, “The Highway.”
“Treasure State,” the new novel by C.J. Box, is available at Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3FESRAB.
Box has the welcome habit of using real issues or events that are taking place in the Western United States. He has used endangered species, federal vs. states control, energy conflicts and now in “Treasure State,” he seems to be inspired by the very real treasure hunt started by Santa Fe author and antiquity dealer Forrest Fenn. In 2010, Fenn published clues to a treasure chest hidden in the Rocky Mountains in a poem he included in his book “The thrill of the Chase.” More than 350,000 people searched for the treasure for 10 years and five died. The treasure, rumored to be worth about $2 million, was found in Wyoming in summer 2020 by Jack Stuef, a medical student.
Cassie becomes embroiled in her version of events when she receives a mysterious phone call from a person who refuses to identify himself. This person claims to be the writer of a poem found in a regional restaurant two years ago that started the rush to find what is called Sir Scott’s treasure. His challenge is for Cassie to figure out who he is, for a handsome fee. Meanwhile, treasure hunters have been all over the mountains trying to locate the stash.
In addition to the treasure hunt, which Cassie would love to avoid, she receives a call from a distressed woman from Florida, named Candace Fly. Apparently, she was romanced and then conned by a man named Marc Daly, who made off with millions of her money. Once she realized what happened, she hired a private investigator, J.D. Spengler, who after chasing the trail of the con man from Los Angeles to Chicago, has disappeared. His last known location was Anaconda, Montana, which is only a couple of hours from Cassie.
Cassie now has a full plate of challenges and is actively pursuing the P.I., the con man and the mysterious instigator of Sir Scott’s Treasure. She is also dealing with her mother, son and new office intern. Cassie also runs into a delightful character who was introduced in “Badlands,” Kyle Westergaard, whom Cassie rescued from a serial killer.
Thus begins a trek all over the very large state of Montana that puts both Cassie and her family in jeopardy and puts her skills as an investigator to the supreme test.
Box has crafted a complex and compelling double mystery that treats readers to a thrilling read. He has deftly inserted fascinating historical facts about Montana into the narrative. The new characters are fully fleshed out and are complicated with sometimes conflicting motives, especially the “villains.” Cassie’s character continues to grow and begins to expand her comfort zone, now that she is no longer an official law enforcement officer.
Readers are bound to love this novel, especially the surprising and satisfying conclusion.
Leslie Doran is a retired teacher, freelance writer and former New Mexican who claims Durango as her forever home.