Message From The Author

C.J. Box

Book Title: BACK OF BEYOND
Genre: Suspense, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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Author's Message

The initial idea for what later became Back of Beyond came from a late-night conversation around a campfire deep in the heart of the Yellowstone wilderness.

I was on a multi-day horse-pack trip in the early fall along with eleven other participants. We’d left the trailhead the day before after being partnered up with our trail horses. The expedition rode north in a fairly tight nose-to-trail configuration. The outfitter in charge of the trip led the string, and his wrangler followed it up trailing mules packed with gear. In between were twelve people, including my three fishing buddies. Our reason for the back-country trip was to access magnificent fishing waters filled with Yellowstone cutthroat trout. But we were the only dedicated fishermen on the trip. I had no idea why the other eight riders were there. We’d all met for the first time just that morning.

Yellowstone is still very, very wild. There is no cell phone service, no Internet access, and few ranger patrols. The farther we rode from the northernmost trailhead, the deeper we got into pure, elemental, amoral nature. We rode past bison, and saw the remains of an elk eaten by bears. There were no other people on the trail and not even the spoor of a jet trail in the big blue sky. As I rode I tried to imagine who were the other people on the trip -- and why they were there.

The next night, after a big outdoor dinner and a few drinks, I found myself alone with the outfitter at the fire. He told me about past trips, about characters and personalities he’d encountered, how everybody on these kinds of adventures was searching for something. He said it was his job to find out what that something was and if possible, satisfy it. He said he was a “master of group dynamics” and he had the ability to manipulate and mold high-end Class A personalities, bickering couples, loners, and agitators into a kind of cohesive platoon. Usually.

Think about it: Twelve people from different places, with different incomes and social circles, with different agendas and philosophies, all thrown together for a week in a place where there was no turning back.

But what if you can’t figure out what they’re after, I asked.

His answer was simple. Then you’ve got trouble.

I thought a lot about that as the days went by and personalities emerged. Scenarios came to mind.

Back of Beyond takes place in the most remote region still in existence in the lower forty-eight states. It’s a place where wolves and bears are on the top of the food chain. And I thought it was the perfect location for what would turn out to be, in effect, a classic closed-room mystery where someone is picking off the members of the expedition one-by-one.

Welcome to Back of Beyond. Try to keep your wits about you. You’ll need them. 

- C.J. Box


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