Vicious Circle

Author: C.J. Box

The past comes back to haunt game warden Joe Pickett and his family with devastating effect in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author.

The plane circled in the dark. Joe Pickett could just make out down below a figure in the snow and timber, and then three other figures closing in. There was nothing he could do about it. And Joe knew that he might be their next target.

The Cates family had always been a bad lot. Game warden Joe Pickett had been able to strike a fierce blow against them when the life of his daughter April had been endangered, but he’d always wondered if there’d be a day of reckoning. He’s not wondering any longer. Joe knows they’re coming after him and his family now. He has his friend Nate by his side, but will that be enough this time? All he can do is prepare . . . and wait for them to make the first move.

Vicious Circle (Joe Pickett, #17)

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A sequence in which a female meth head attempts to kill Joe’s wife and daughters with an ax ranks as the scariest in any Pickett novel to date; a close second goes to a confrontation between Joe and Dallas’s imprisoned, quadriplegic mother. In short, this outing is the most suspenseful yet in this world-class series, setting a new standard for Box.

South Florida

Box’s outstanding series, known for its expert plotting and character development, reaches a new high...VICIOUS CIRCLE again proves why Box, who has won several awards, including the Edgar, is one of the best storytellers currently on the market.

The Arizona Republic

"Vicious Circle" might be Box's best book yet, and that's saying something after sixteen solid thrillers in a series that never fails to deliver. The story is at once familiar — and different. Box offers his usual cast of wardens, trackers, ranchers, hunters and killers back-dropped by his beloved Big Horn Mountain landscapes. But the narrative is darker, the pace faster and the descriptions leaner, meaner. The book moves. And it is utterly relentless.

The Associated Press

Box utilizes the wild and open spaces of Wyoming to create a brooding atmosphere that's as intense as the story line. Readers both new and old will enjoy figuring out with Pickett how to stop an unstoppable villain while keeping intact everything that he holds dear. There's a reason why Box is consistently at the top of the best-seller lists: He writes a compelling tale that also rings with emotional resonance.

The Providence Journal

The Pickett books are always a blast to read, as broad and expansive as the badlands of Wyoming themselves. But this time out Box goes himself one better in crafting a viscerally personal tale that returns the villainous Cates family to the fray to resolve their long-simmering conflict with Pickett and his stalwart sidekick Nate Romanowski. The result can best be characterized as post-modern Western noir that casts "Vicious Circle" as a modern-day "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," where being outgunned and outmanned amid the vast Wyoming backwoods isn't about to keep two good men down. Box's storytelling prowess remains as exceptional as ever, matched this time by masterfully lyrical prose that places him alongside James Lee Burke and John Hart as a preeminent novelist as well, helping to make Vicious Circle a thriller of rare emotional depth that is at once riveting, relentless and impossible to put down.

Kirkus Reviews

Bracingly familiar pleasures expertly packaged...first-timers will be intrigued and fans amply rewarded.


Vicious Circle is perhaps the most intricately plotted installment in the series since its inception; Box never falls into the series trap of caricaturing his protagonist or making him seem larger than life. Pickett remains a good guy fighting the good fight, quietly and for all the right reasons.


We’ve noted previously how the fully fleshed family dynamic is one of this series’ enduring strengths, and that pays dividends here as we viscerally feel Joe’s fear for his loved ones and his powerlessness to protect them. Box masterfully tightens the suspense until we’re caught in a vicious circle of our own and unable to stop reading.

The Peninsula Clarion

To your list of Don’t Read Before Bedtime, you can add “Vicious Circle.” If you don’t, you may as well kiss sleep goodbye.

Yes, there’s more than just one keep-you-up-all-night heart-pounder in this book; it’s the seventeenth novel to feature Joe Pickett, after all, and author C.J. Box nails it again with a story that lays out the clues and dares you to figure them out. Readers who know Pickett know that that won’t be easy, just as they’ll remember how Box often brings back truly nasty bad-guys and leaves fans with an aggrrrrrrivating cliff-hanger. And that, of course, will have you screaming for the next installment.

Boomerang Books

It’s a finely-tuned, suspense-filled thriller that will satiate veteran readers, and certainly intrigue newcomers into catching up on the Pickett family’s (mis)adventures.