Sunday, October 21, 2007

Free Fire by C. J. Box

Somehow I had never heard of this author until Free Fire was published. It is the seventh in a series of mysteries staring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. The game warden’s wife, Marybeth, and their two children are also well-developed characters. The language is not eloquent, but to the point as in this example.
“But in a job where nearly every man he encountered in the field was armed as well as pumped up with testosterone- and calling backup was rarely an option- playing dumb was a survival skill. And Joe, much to Marybeth’s chagrin, could play dumb extremely well.” (pg 76)
It is very much a departure from many mysteries in that the action primarily takes place far removed from where most people live.

This particular mystery is set in Yellowstone National Park. Joe has been fired from his normal position of game warden in the Saddlestring area, but has managed to become known to the new governor as someone who stirs things up. The governor hires him to investigate a mass shooting in an area of Yellowstone, which is now being called the Zone of Death as the shooter is released on a technicality. The park is under federal control so the governor sends in Joe unofficially.

The plot is convoluted and involves the unique setting of Yellowstone with its geysers, paint pots, and wildlife in all forms. The book can be read on its own without reading any of the preceding mysteries. However, there were enough hints to prior activity that I felt compelled to read the rest of the books in the series. Also, I wonder what will happen to the Pickett family in the future and look forward to the next in the series. I liked these mysteries so much that I'm adding Box to my list of top ten writers of mystery series.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I'm a big fan of CJ Box's books too. I find Joe Pickett very human in his struggles to be a good man, husband and dad, and to control his sometimes-hasty temper. I like that Joe solves crimes through hard work, careful observation, and logic, rather than through unusual powers of deduction or improbable turns of luck. Box's criminals are often victims of human frailty, greed and shortsightedness rather than evil criminal masterminds, and Joe sometimes has more in common with them than he finds comfortable—although there are occasional creeps who generate a true frisson of fear in the reader. I also like how Box shares his appreciation for the stark Wyoming landscapes in which Joe moves. Mysteries are often escapist, but these are plausible without being over-literal.

--Sandra in Boulder