Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Bad Country: A Novel by CB McKenzie

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250053544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250053541

Book Description

The newest winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize, a debut mystery set in the Southwest starring a former rodeo cowboy turned private investigator, told in a transfixingly original style.

Rodeo Grace Garnet lives with his old dog in a remote corner of Arizona known to locals as El Hoyo. He doesn't get many visitors in The Hole, but a body found near his home has drawn police attention to his front door. The victim is not one of the many undocumented immigrants who risk their lives to cross the border in Rodeo's harsh and deadly "backyard," but a member of a major Southwestern Indian tribe, whose death is part of a mysterious rompecabeza—a classic crime puzzler—that includes multiple murders, cold-blooded betrayals, and low-down scheming, with Rodeo caught in the middle.

Retired from the rodeo circuit and scraping by on piecework as a bounty hunter, warrant server, and divorce snoop, Rodeo doesn't have much choice but to say yes when offered an unusual case. An elderly Indian woman from his own Reservation has hired him to help discover who murdered her grandson, but she seems strangely uninterested in the results. Her attitude seems heartless, but as Rodeo pursues interrelated cases, he learns that the old woman's indifference is nothing compared to true hatred, and aligned against a variety of creative and cruel foes, the hard-pressed PI is about to discover just how far hate can go.

CB McKenzie's Bad Country is a noir novel that is as deep and twisty as a desert arroyo. With confident, accomplished prose, McKenzie captures the rough-and-tumble outer reaches of the Southwest in a transfixingly original style that transcends the traditional crime novel.

About the Author

 C.B. MCKENZIE JR. teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and has also taught at the University of Arizona, Arizona State, Farleigh Dickinson, and Pima Community College. He is the author of Bad Country and lives in New York.

“Winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize for the Best Debut Mystery set in the Southwest, this edgy noir offers a master class on how to create a vivid sense of mood and place. Rodeo is a hard-nosed, hard-drinking man who searches for the truth as he understands it. Fans of the late, great Hillerman will cheer the arrival of a promising newcomer.”–Library Journal

My Review

What an incredible read! It is beautifully written. I am a massive fan of Tony Hillerman's work and CB McKenzie is a very deserving winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize. Bad Country is set in southernmost Arizona in Indian country. While different than Hillerman's Navajo country setting, McKenzie brings the desolate area around Tucson to life. 

I cannot praise this book enough. At first I had a few problems with the punctuation style but once I got reading I found the novel flowed and was distinct because of the lack of quotation marks. It made the book rougher. And this is a rough novel. This is not a novel for people who are turned off by swearing. It is a novel for people who want an excellent read. That it encompasses a world that is much grittier than most of us are used to (I hope), is what sets it apart and above many others.

The story and the characters are compelling and original. And I felt like I was right there the entire time.  The characters were all flawed people who were realistically represented. The main character, Rodeo Grace Garnet, isa rough guy who loves his dog and is heroic in so many different ways. The story kept getting better with each page I turned. I love how it all flowed together in the end. Perfect ending! Just loved it!

You need to read this amazing book! I highly highly recommend it. All books should be this gripping and captivating. I cannot wait for CB McKenzie's next book!



  1. Good evening~ would you be interested in posting this review to Amazon? I'm working for CB and this is a great review!! Thanks!!