Raves all over for C. J. Box’s OUT OF RANGE

First, there was Jane Dickinson in the Rocky Mountain News, giving the OUT OF RANGE, the latest Joe Pickett book, an “A”:

It’s an image as big as the West itself, and almost as old – the lone lawman maintaining order and fighting the good fight in a vast and rugged territory. C.J. Box updates this American classic in his novels featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, novels that deserve to be on any list of top American mysteries.

The latest, Out of Range, may be his best yet. Box has always spoken in a sure voice, with an unusual ability to tackle difficult issues with balance and intelligence. But the plot of Out of Range hangs together especially well, avoiding black helicopters and menacing federal agents, for the most part, while taking a thoughtful look at the land and the issues it raises. Oh, and there’s a heckuva page-turner in there, too.

Game Warden Joe Pickett leaves his home in Saddlestring (read Sheridan) on a temporary assignment to cover the territory around Jackson Hole after the suicide of a friend, a highly regarded game warden. A world apart from the sleepy Big Horn Mountains Joe loves, Jackson’s the richest county per capita in the richest country in the world, Box writes, set in a wilderness where grizzlies and mountain lions still roam.

Box, subtle as always, handles Jackson and the inroads of resort culture there (an easy target if there ever was one) with the lightest of touches. He explores the tensions between hunting and fishing, game management, human encroachments on animal habitat, and the use and abuse of animals for food. As usual, he turns an unsparing gaze on bureaucrats and political operators of all stripes, as Joe faces off with outfitters, a big-time developer, animal-rights activists and, briefly, the vice president.

Joe investigates his friend’s suicide despite opposition from the sheriff, hunts down a wounded grizzly and winds up in a gunfight with an outfitter, the only man in the county he really likes and understands.

Separated from his wife and daughters for the duration, Joe also grapples with difficulties in his marriage, and the proximity of a fascinating woman who’s interested in him. Box manages these tribulations with the same deft touch he applies to writing about the West. There’s a lot to like in this book, so if you haven’t yet discovered C. J. Box, don’t wait.

Then the Wall Street Journal joined in the cheers–with a review teased from the front page:

OUT OF RANGE, with its stunning scenery and modern malevolence, combines the rural pleasures of the classic Western (close encounters with bears, an old-fashioned gunfight) with the sleuthing and forensics of the police-procedural. And Joe Pickett, with a little help from some old and new friends, proves more than a match for an era’s foe.

Congrats, Chuck!


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