Box and Lehane in Kirkus Reviews

In its special Mysteries and Thrillers issue, Kirkus Reviews features not one, but two ARLA authors!

The issue features C.J. Box’s FREE FIRE as a “Hot Release of 2007.” Kirkus writes:

Yellowstone National Park provides the panoramic setting for Free Fire, the seventh crime novel to feature C.J. Box’s Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett. This time, Pickett is all alone and out on a long limb. As Free Fire opens, Joe has been fired and is working as a ranch foreman for his father-in-law, says the Wyoming-based author. He’s pulled back in by the Governor of Wyoming, who says that when he thinks of crimes committed outdoors, he thinks of Joe Pickett. Joe doesn’t know quite how to take that, but he is rehired and put back on the state payroll to investigate a multiple murder in the park. Box has long wanted to write a book set in Yellowstone, and his discovery of its legally questionable geography provided the spark for the crime-fighting warden’s latest adventure. The so-called free-fire zone is a point of fact, he says. There’s this little 50-mile strip that’s between jurisdictions. The Sixth Amendment says that anyone who commits a crime in the U.S. is entitled to a jury trial in the district where the crime is committed, but no one lives in the free-fire zone, so there’s a legal conundrum in drawing a jury. It’s a fascinating problem. There’s plenty of action, too, as the inimitable Pickett navigates the untamed wilderness of the American West. There’s still a frontier mentality and a lot of individuality out here, he says. Although the frontier was realistically lost a long time ago, there’s still a thirst for justice here that I try to portray in these books.

Kirkus also annoints Dennis Lehane as one of the top ten biggest brands in the Mysteries & Thrillers market, alongside the likes of Elmore Leonard and James Bond:

Mystic River serves as a line of demarcation in the career of Dennis Lehane. Prior to the 2001 publication of the novel that raised Lehane’s literary renown and popular profile, he had built a loyal following among fans of hard-boiled mysteries through a series of five novels, beginning with 1994’s A Drink Before the War, featuring the investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. Not since Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles had a male-female detective team played off each other so well.

With whipcrack dialogue, breakneck plotting and a strong moral code, the series established Lehane as the mystery bard of his native Boston blue-collar, hardscrabble neighborhood of Dorchester. If the devil is in the details, the series established Lehane as a devilishly engaging master of the contemporary urban noir.

Mystic River quickly outsold his five previous books combined. And this was well before Clint Eastwood’s 2003 film adaptation, which earned Oscars for actors Sean Penn and Tim Robbins and nominations for best picture and director.

In 2003, the author published Shutter Island, a novel that seemed less like an extension of previous work than an experiment, relying on tricks of plot rather than depths of character, and forsaking the old neighborhoods for a hospital for the criminally insane in Boston Harbor. Then came a collection of stories and a play, 2006’s Coronado, which Kirkus called “an impressive step forward for a writer of commanding gifts.”

So, six years after Mystic River, where does Lehane go from here? Though he has long been reluctant to discuss works in progress, he’s hinted that Kenzie and Gennaro may soon return. And there seems to be the possibility that some characters from Mystic River might eventually resurface as well.

Meanwhile, Lehane’s dialogue (along with kindred spirits George Pelecanos and Richard Price) has crackled through scripts for The Wire, the critically acclaimed HBO series about Baltimore’s drug trade.

Congratulations, Dennis and Chuck!


Comments are closed.