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.
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 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!
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.
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.
Rodeo Grace Garnet is an ex-rodeo cowboy who now scrabbles together a living with occasional PI work in the boondocks of the American Southwest. He lives right on the border with Mexico, way out in the sparsely inhabited badlands, where illegals cross through his land and bad people can do things out of sight. So while he's not exactly surprised when he finds a body on his property, it soon turns into something more than just another unfortunate illegal border crosser.
All mystery series set in the American Southwest get compared to Tony Hillerman's Navajo series, but I think this book is much more akin to J.A. Jance's Joanna Brady series. Rodeo, like Sheriff Brady, spends lots of time in Bisbee and other small Arizona towns, and has to deal with a largely rural, poor, mixed race population full of cultural and economic flashpoints, and the occasional entitled rich dude (usually white) who always seems to be a nexus of trouble, even if not the actual murderer.
C.B. McKenzie is a better writer than J.A. Jance, and I think this book was better than the last few Hillerman novels (in which Tony was, frankly, phoning it in). That said, I liked this book but it didn't really draw me into Rodeo's world to the extent that I am eager to follow his continuing adventures. He's just another busted up, broke semi-drifter in the Southwest. He has a personality and a code of ethics and he stands his ground and gets things done, even in the face of opposition from the local police, the local political power broker, the local murderous psychopath, and unexpected visits from his psycho ex-girlfriend, but I still didn't really like him much. Even if he does have a soft spot for his old dog.
Usually I like Southwest stories - I'd like to retire there someday. This one was okay and I will probably try C.B. McKenzie again, but my reaction to this book was lukewarm, despite a good cast of characters and a well-executed plot.
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!
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.
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.
For a first time novelist, this was pretty damn good. The characters are colorful, the zeitgeist infuses the story, and except for a couple of Bullwer-Lytton contest contenders early in the book, well written. Mckenzie keeps the story moving with few dead spots.
That being said, there are a few things that kept it from being a 5/5 for me. For one thing, the main character puts up with a lot of insults with the stoic patience of a saint. The backstory suggests that this is a guy who can react with extreme prejudice so I had to wonder what the hell all his restraint was about. He was almost passive. Things happened to him. I think the author needs to explain that or develop the character in the next book but he can't do it this way again.
Nice reference to Agatha Christie.
Makes me want to stay the hell out of Arizona. This was a sentiment I had heard previously from younger relatives who lived there recently. I don't think the author exaggerates much.
Bring on book 2, brother.
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