Cassie Dewell

Created by C.J. Box

When she first showed up, C.J. Box’s CASSIE DEWELL was and only a supporting character in his 2013 novel, The Highway, which won the Edgar for Best Novel. A thirty-something sheriff’s investigator in Lewis and Clark County in Montana, she worried she might have only been promoted because of a series of articles in the Helena Independent Record blasting the department about its lack of diversity.

But from small things, baby, big things someday come, and she was soon the star of what was once referred to as Box’s Highway Quartet, which included Back of Beyond (2011), the afore-mentioned The Highway, Badlands (2015), and Paradise Valley (2017), the latter two featuring Cassie taking over as the main protagonist from her older partner CODY HOYT, and eventually partnering with his widow, Jenny Hoyt, a sheriff’s deputy with “issues.”

When the quartet wrapped up, I figured that would be the last we’d see of Cassie, but dang if she didn’t return in The Bitterroots (2019). This time she’s on her own, no longer with the sheriff’s department, intent on starting over with her own detective agency.

If Box decides to make this into a series, it should be interesting. Cassie’s never quite fit into the macho culture of the “West.” She’s tough enough to survive in it, and she’s certainly cobbled together an impressive track record, but she’s also human, suffering from low self-esteem and professional doubts. It’ll be interesting to see where Box takes her.

Or where television takes her. In November 2020, ABC unleashed Big Sky, a television series developed by David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal, The Outsider, etc.), and starring Kylie Bunbury as Cassie and Ryan Phillippe as Cody, (loosely) based on The Highway and other books in the series.

And I did say “loosely.” Anyone expecting the grim and gritty intensity of the books may be sorely disappointed. This ain’t HBO or Netflix–this is a David E. Kelley production tooled for network broadcast; a frothy, trashy pile-on of familiar tropes and two hot leads (Kylie Bunbury as Cassie and Katheryn Winnick as Jenny) who could have wandered over from Ally McBeal. Entertainment Weekly called it a “soapy potboiler with its sex-trafficking psychos, an impressively high per-episode abduction rate and the hottest ship on TV,” while including it in their 2021 Year’s Worst, then deeming it “a perfect antidote to… prestige crime dramas.”

The addition of a couple of new hunks, including a hunky new sheriff (Jensen Ackles ), and an obnoxiously perky Reba McEntire in season three as a possibly homicidal camp director in the third season, didn’t help.


C. J. BOX is most famous, of course, as the author of the bestselling Joe Pickett series, about a Wyoming game warden. He’s won the Edgar, the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, and the Barry Award. He lives in Wyoming.


  • “Outstanding…Vividly etched characters and a realistic plot lift this outing, and the well-done Montana setting is a plus. Box remains at the top of his game.”
    — Publishers Weekly
  • “Will render readers utterly immobilized until they’ve closed the book…Box has become the dominant mystery/thriller author of the mountain West.”
    — Booklist



  • big_skyBIG SKY
    (2020-24, ABC)
    10 episodes
    Premiere: November 17, 2020
    Based on The Highway by C.J. Box
    Writers: David E. Kelley, Annakate Chappell
    Directors: Paul McGuigan
    Starring Kylie Bunbury as CASSIE DEWELL
    with Katheryn Winnick as JENNY HOYT
    and Ryan Phillippe as CODY HOYT
    With Jensen Ackles as Sheriff Beau Arlen (Season three)
    John Carroll Lynch as Rick Legarski
    Jeffery Joseph as Joseph Dewell
    Gage Marsh as Justin Hoyt
    and Gabriel Jacob-Cross as Kai Dewell
    Also starring Brian Geraghty, Jesse James Keitel, Brooke Smith, Natalie Alyn Lind, Luke Mitchell, John Carroll Lynch, Valerie Mahaffey, Jade Pettyjohn, Reba McEntire, Lyle Lovett, Dedee Pfeiffer

    • “Pilot” (November 17, 2020)
    • “Nowhere to Runt” (November 24, 2020)
    • “The Big Rick” (December 1, 2020)
    • “Unfinished Business” (December 8, 2020)
    • “A Good Day to Die” (December 15, 2020)
    • “The Wolves Are Always Out for Blood” (January 26, 2021)
    • “I Fall to Pieces” (February 2, 2021)
    • “The End is Near” (February 9, 2021)
    • “Let It Be Him” (February 16, 2021)
    • “Catastrophic Thinking” (April 13, 2021)
    • “All Kinds of Snakes” (April 13, 2021)
    • “No Better Than Dogs” (April 20, 2021)
    • “White Lion” (April 27, 2021)
    • “Nice Animals” (May 4, 2021)
    • “Bitter Roots” (May 11, 2021)
    • “Love is a Strange and Dangerous Thing” (May 18, 2021)
    • “Wakey, Wakey” (September 30, 2021)
    • “Huckleberry” (October 7, 2021)
    • “You Have to Play Along” (October 14, 2021)
    • “Gettin’ Right to It” (October 21, 2021)
    • “Mother Nurture” (November 11, 2021)
    • “Heart-Shaped Charm” (November 18, 2021)
    • “Little Boxes” (December 9, 2021)
    • “The End Has No End” (December 16, 2021)
    • “Trust Issues” (February 24, 2022)
    • “Happy Thoughts” (March 3, 2022)
    • “Do No Harm” (March 10, 2022)
    • “Do You Love an Apple” (September 21, 2022)
    • “The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep” (September 28, 2022)
    • “A Brief History of Crime” (October 5, 2022)
    • “Carrion Comfort” (October 12, 2022)
    • “Flesh and Blood” (October 19, 2022)
    • “The Bag and the Box” (October 26, 2022)
    • “Come Get Me” (November 2, 2022)
    • “Duck Hunting” (November 16, 2022)
    • “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” (November 30, 2022)
    • “A Thin Layer of Rock” (December 7, 2022)
    • “TBA” (January 4, 2024)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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