Review: The Disappeared by C.J. Box

The DisappearedAn eighteenth round of trouble for Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett brings with it the gripping story of suspense—laced with heavy emotion and family drama—that readers have come to expect.

C.J. Box has reached that highest echelon of crime writers thanks to the sheer brilliant consistency of his novels, which makes reviewing the latest Joe Pickett novel rather difficult, because there’s really nothing new to say, just a refrain of my usual chorus: if you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out on one of the genre’s A-Grade authors, and one of its best characters.

Enjoyment of The Disappeared doesn’t necessarily hinge on your familiarity with what’s come before, but it helps. The Joe Pickett series has always leaned heavily into continuity between novels, various characters popping up in primary or secondary roles as each instalment hits. Readers have harboured suspicions of the new governor, Colter Allen, since his brief introduction in an earlier novel; this time we get to see our mistrust come to fruition. Joe was a reluctant troubleshooter for the previous governor, and Allen can’t see why the game warden wouldn’t be happy to maintain his role.

In this instance, he wants Joe to investigate the disappearance of high-profile ad-agency CEP Kate Shelford-Longden, who vanished somewhere between Silver Creek Ranch and Denver airport several months ago. Allen is feeling the pressure from various forces, both international and domestic, and has decided that Joe’s got a better shot at discerning what happened than the Carbon County Sheriff  and the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation.

Thankfully, Joe has an in: his daughter, Sheridan, works at Silver Creek as a horse wrangler, and got to know Shelford-Longden during her stay. So, too, did Sheridan’s new boyfriend, Lance, who also works at the ranch, and is the latest in a long line of young men looking to break the Pickett curse of falling for questionable personalities.

As if the Shelford-Longden case wasn’t enough, Nate Romanowski—the “outlaw falconer” Joes been specifically ordered to keep away from— soon enters the picture to ask Joe a serious, and seemingly unrelated, favour. These dual investigations unspool with superb velocity, and as always, the highlight is less the heart-pounding moments of action, rather the superb banter between characters. There’s a soap-operatic quality to these stories now, and I say that with the greatest respect; while the crime and its subsequent investigation in Box’s novels are always rendered adroitly, I’m just as interested to see how the various members of the Pickett family are faring.

C.J Box remains an original voice in American crime fiction. Even better, as we approach the twentieth entry in the Joe Pickett series, The Disappeared shows there remains plenty of territory for the author to explore.

ISBN: 9781784973186
Format: Paperback (228mm x 145mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Head of Zeus
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publish Date: 19-Feb-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Off the Grid by C.J. Box

Off the GridC.J. Box’s long-running Joe Pickett series continues to thrum along nicely with Off the Grid, the sixteenth entry. This time, Box eases off on the Pickett’s familial dramas – they’re there, just marinating in the background, destined to be spotlighted in a future installment – and notches up the action and adrenaline, with Nate Romanowski at its centre.

Romanowski shares the lead with Joe Pickett in Off the Grid, who has become an essential element of the series’ canon. When the novel opens, Nate is living off the grid, recuperating from events in the previous novels, when he is approached by enigmatic government operatives and offered to have his criminal record expunged if he assists in the destruction of a domestic terror cell. Of course, when you’re dealing with mysterious government officials, all is not what it seems – not that Nate has much of a choice. Meanwhile, Joe is running a seemingly incongruent investigation, which unexpectedly intersects with Nate’s mission – and the resulting firefight puts both men, and Joe’s daughter, in serious danger.

The best C.J. Box thrillers utilise the Wyoming backdrop and its environs, and that is the case with Off the Grid. While the gunfights and action set-pieces are certainly thrilling, it’s the quieter moments – like when Joe is left stranded in the desert, surrounded by nothingness – that truly stand out and elevate the novel above its competition. In a genre saturated with urban landscapes, Box’s novels always offer a delightful breath of fresh air.

Off the Grid is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller and another high-point in a series that shows no signs of diminishing. As always, you’ll finish the latest C.J. Box novel and immediately begin the countdown until his next.

ISBN: 9781784973100
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 145mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Head of Zeus
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publish Date: 10-Mar-2016
Country of Publication: United Kingdom