Do I read mysteries? That’s a question I’m often asked. I do, but not many. I love those “literary thrillers” by Matthew Pearl and just finished reading Rubenfeld’s Death Instinct, but I’m not sure about posting a review of it. Back in 2001, I was given a review copy of C. J. Box’s Open Season. I was hooked and I’ve been reading and recommending his Joe Pickett mysteries/novels ever since. But I was never as successful at hand selling his books as I was other fiction. I think mystery readers are a particularly loyal group of readers and in 2001 Box was the new kid on the block and my customers weren’t buying. By the time I left the store, C. J. Box was on our shelves, but still unhappily, for me, under-read.
Now, of course, Bookin’ with Sunny lets me sing his praises again. I love the rugged Wyoming mountain setting of his stories, the fact that he’s a happily married man with a bright, independent wife and has three daughters. As a game warden he not only drives his pickup, but at times he does his sleuthing on horseback (the only thing that would endear him to me more than riding a horse would be if his dog were an English bulldog instead of a lab and a corgi). A cadre of cranky police and other civic characters are also part of the stories and there is a wildly strange falconer friend who is willing to do things Joe Pickett the Game Warden cannot. Oh, I forgot, Joe Pickett has the quintessential mother-in-law from hell. In addition, in every mystery the reader learns something about ecology, wildlife, ranching, mountain life and exactly who committed the murder, which shockingly takes place usually within the first ten pages. So, is it a novel as the jacket says, or a mystery as the murder victim would say, if the dead could speak? Who cares? Box is always a great read.
His latest is Cold Wind and it’s on the shelf and for sale in just five days. Check out our review.