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Literature / Cassie Dewell

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Cassie Dewell is the protagonist of a series of mystery novels by author C.J. Box.

At the series’ beginning, Cassie Dewell is introduced as a single mother living in Montana and an ex-rookie partner of an ex-police investigator named Cody Hoyt. With the progress of the plots, it is seen that Cassie Dewell moves to North Dakota and takes up a new job in North Dakota’s sheriff’s department. Cassie all her investigating skills to hunt down the criminals in her new work place.

The first four novels form a linked set known as The Highway Quartet.

The novels in the series are:

  1. Back of Beyond (2011)note 
  2. The Highway (2013)
  3. Badlands (2015)
  4. Paradise Valley (2017)
  5. The Bitterroots (2019)

The TV series Big Sky is an adaptation of The Highway.


  • Aborted Arc: The Highway ends with Cassie in a position of power over her boss Sheriff Tubman after finding out that he takes rent money from gemstone miners who also deal drugs. The next book begins with her transferring to another department, and that plot is abandoned.
  • Bunker Woman: In The Highway, the usual MO of the Lizard King is kidnap prostitutes and imprison inside an old fallout shelter on a property he owns, so he and his accomplices that sexually abuse them before he murders them. This is what he does to sisters Danielle and Grace when he abducts, and is what initially puts Cody Hoyt on his trail.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The Highway starts like a direct sequel to Back of Beyond, with Cody Hoyt investigating the disappearance of his son Justin's girlfriend and her sister. However, about a third of the way through, Hoyt vanishes, and the plot switches to Cassie trying to discover what happened to him, and uncovering an unholy conspiracy along the way.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The Lizard King's victim of choice are truck stop prostitutes, as no one except their pimp is likely to miss them, and even the pimps will probably figure they just ran off.
  • Murder By In Action: In Badlands, a Hate Sink enforcer for The Cartel falls through a frozen pond in the middle of the night during a police chase. The deputy pursuing him hears his scream for help, radios the sheriff for orders and is told to tell the freezing killer that they'll come back for him in the morning (although, given how fast the guy freezes to death, they probably couldn't have saved him in time anyway).
  • New Old West: Cassie starts as a sheriff's investigator in Montana, and then becomes a deputy, and later Private Eye, in North Dakota. A lot is made of small police forces attempting to police large, wide open spaces with little in the way of resources or backup.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In The Highway, one of Cody and Cassie's coworkers tells Cody he can get help from her ex-brother-in-law, a cop in the area where girls have been disappearing. Her ex-brother-in-law is one of the culprits and murders Cody.
  • Rewrite: In Box's earlier novel Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, Cody's son Justin is a preteen in 2009, was born from a One-Night-Stand Pregnancy and Cody's friend Jack only finds out about his existence during the book. In Back of Beyond (written in 2012) Justin is a teenager, and it's mentioned that Cody and Justin's mother got married after she got pregnant (their relationship still didn't last long), with Jack attending the impromptu wedding as a witness.
  • Serial Killer: The Big Bad of The Highway Quartet is a serial killer known as 'the Lizard King': a truck driver preys on truck stop prostitutes. His crimes go undetected for a long time because he uses his occupation to dispose of his victims' bodies far from where he killed them,usually across state lines. And because he is committing his crimes across multiple jurisdictions, the local authorities cannot detect any pattern.