BADLANDS By C. J. Box Minotaur, 288 pages, $31.50
C. J. Box, the crime fiction bard of America’s northern plain states, sets his latest book in the chaos of North Dakota’s new oil prosperity. The oil discoveries have brought to the state a population explosion, soaring prices (apartment rentals are higher than New York City’s) and, inevitably, drugs and murder. The book, in Box’s trademark rough and ready prose, deals with the sleuthing out of one corrupting drug ring by the sharptongued but likeable Sheriff’s Investigator Cassie Dewell. She benefits unexpectedly from the aid of a gallant 12-yearold boy who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Only in C. J. Box’s North Dakota.