Winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize, Bad Country is 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 alone, save for his old dog, in a remote corner of Arizona known to locals as the Hole. He doesn't get many visitors, but a body found near his home has drawn police attention to his front door. The victim is not one of the many illegal immigrants who risk their lives to cross the border just south of the Hole, but is instead a member of one of the local Indian tribes.
Retired from the rodeo circuit and scraping by on piecework as a private investigator, Rodeo doesn't have much choice but to say yes when offered an unusual case. An elderly Indian woman has hired him to help find who murdered her grandson, but she seems strangely uninterested in the results. Her indifference seems heartless, but as Rodeo pursues his case, he learns that it's nothing compared to true hatred - and he's about to realize just how far hate can go.
C. B. McKenzie's Bad Country captures the rough-and-tumble corners of the Southwest in accomplished, confident prose, with a hard-nosed plot that will keep readers riveted.
©2014 CB McKenzie (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
The dialogue in this story is fantastic. I kept marveling at how this author brought these characters to life with what they said. However, what was even better was that just when the listener thinks he/she has a character caricatured, the author slips us another nugget to jiggle up our stereotyping tendencies.
The plot is so much more than the blurb above. This is a story of a righteous man, living the best he can with very few resources other than intelligence and determination. It's not your run-of-the-mill detective story. The main character is just shy of mythic, no doubt written as such to ensure we see him with more humility than heroism.
For my Western loving friends I say, "Yes pard'." And, to everyone else, I say that this story can be gritty, but is worth your time. Enjoy!
Wandering around Audible can be great fun as you all know. I stumbled on this book and went for it because of the reviews and the narrator. I tend to avoid modern western themes, finding them often as arid as the land they describe. This listen is different. The lush description of land and people is, well, blushing as I type this, simply majestic. The room of a dead boy, the
P.I's home, his dog, his life that only slowly starts to reveal itself, is the writing of a master. If you love words, give this book a chance. I hope his follow up will be as good. If it is, we have another Hemingway on our hands. Whisper sync is a good idea for this listen just for the ease of bookmark retrieval and to see the beautiful words with your eyes as well as hearing with your ears. Please give it a shot and share with me what you think. This is a talent that deserves our support. Peace, love and understanding to all!
I have listened to the entire Cork O'Connor series by William Kent Kruger and the Joe Picket series by CJ Box. This book reminds me a lot of those books. Excellent story telling. Intriguing characters. It was a little hard to get to know Rodeo Garnett in the beginning. The author and the narrator provide more detail and personality to the supporting characters. By the middle of the book, I really got him and enjoyed the book immensely.
Highly recommend. I hope he writes this as a series.
There are a bunch of things I loved about this book. In my world, that doesn't happen unless the characters are fully developed (their behavior "rings true"), the story is original and unpredictable, the dialogue is rich and honest, and the narrator is skilled. All of that is true here. Best of all, I live in Tucson, AZ where a great deal of this novel is set, and this author has made the culture and feel of Tucson an integral part of the story. Tucson and the southwest are not just a setting here -- they are a central character in the author's tale. I have to admit that I almost did not buy this book because of reviews that called it "grim and hate filled". I didn't get that at all -- in fact, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the exchanges between the main character (Rodeo) and his best friend. The author's characters are not one dimensional sketches -- I felt like I knew these people. Please -- buy the book, so CB McKenzie will write more, and I can hear more about Rodeo Grace Garnet.
By Vincent I. Polley and Lynn Polley -
This review is from: Bad Country: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on a recommendation by a Tucson friend, excited to encounter a new writer. There's a genre of mystery writers who've just "nailed it" for certain locales -- John MacDonald (for Florida), Michael McGarrity (for New Mexico), Tony Hillerman (Navaho reservation)... now CB McKenzie for Arizona. Literate, and educated. UPDATED (after finishing): Also relevant are the works by Michael Connelly (focused in LA) and Ross Macdonald's fantastic Lew Archer series (also in LA). In particular, I was struck by CB Mckenzie's detailed, involuted plot lines, which seemed redolent of Macdonald's -- a complex weave of characters, histories, motivations, geographies -- all coming together beautifully. (The only discordant note was the unexplained sophistication of Samuel Rocha's poetry -- really? "roseate"?). It's been years since I've read a novel in 2 days -- this is marvelous. More Rodeo, please!
I love to read books set in interesting places or historical settings. I especially love mysteries and thrillers.
During my listen of this book, I went to Amazon 3 times to confirm this author, CB McKenzie, didn't have some other books I could order. Sure enough, this is McKenzie's debut novel. I was surprised that such a well written detective novel was the first in a series. The main character, Rodeo Grace Garnet, is a "Longmire" type detective working in a desolate part of Arizona. The characters make the story so compelling, but my absolute favorite is Rodeo's old dog.
I enjoyed the witty banter, the description of the locations and the complex whodunnit. Mark Bramhall did a nice job as narrator. I will definitely look forward to the second book in this series.
The hero isn't pure. The bad guy isn't who you think it is. The lives that pivot on the story he tells are desolate and etched by the sand of the desert.
The story feels like it is also abraded to only the essentials. It kept my attention and more than satisfied with the train ride to and from work for an entire week. I will be searching for every book he ever wrote.
But it left me thirsty.
When I find an author I like, I always check whether there are other audio books by the same author; and if not, I go to Amazon to find books not yet recorded. Nothing! How could he do such a good job the first time out? I take my hat off to you, Mr. McKenzie. Mark Bramhall really worked out well as the narrator, too. More, please!
There’s a fair mix of reviews here on Audible. Apparently you’re going to love this book or hate it. Many have a problem with the lack of lightness and humor. I dunno. There’s some humor. It’s dark humor, I grant you. I laughed out loud a couple of times, which is rare for me.
Some complain about the darkness and the squalor and the bleakness of the character’s lives. What’s not to understand? What do you think the author is trying to tell you when he titles his novel like he did? I think you should kinda know what you’re in for when you pick a book called “Bad Country”, or is it just me that thought it might not end well from the get-go?
I found this book a good effort in the “No Country for Old Men” style. Yup. Bleak. Sordid. Desperate. Dark. People scratching out a living in a desperate location. If you call it living. There’s ugliness and greed and despair and depravity, in spades .A bunch don’t make it out alive. That’s bad country, all right.
I thought the writing was fine for this style of whodunnit. The narrator’s performance was better than good, but not awesome. Gun nuts are going to find nit-picky problems with some of the firearm related descriptions. Maybe rodeo nuts will find issues with rodeo related descriptions. It's not that important. This isn't rocket science, it's a detective novel.
Lots of listeners like this book and want more. I agree. I'm looking forward to a sequel. If this kind of story is not for you, though, you’ll want to pick something else.
The author C.B. McKenzie reminds me a bit of James Lee Burke one of my favorite authors. Mark Bramhall did a wonderful job of narrating. I will look forward to more from both McKenzie and Bramhall.
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