I won’t say “it might be The Best One Yet” because I could say that about the fifteen that preceded it. There has never been “a Joe Pickett story” that deserved less that ever-how-many stars one is allowed to bestow.
If you have ever bothered to check out My Favorite Authors up above (and SHAME on you if you haven’t) you know my appreciation for the works of CJ Box….. chronicler extraordinaire of the Adventures of Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowski.
…. I sincerely hope you have such a relationship with an author and his imagination as I have with CJ Box and with “Joe and Nate”.
I grant you your favorite whatever – be that Barbecue, Bond Girls, Basketball team or Pick-Up Truck…. as I would hope you will me. If you never bother to check-out the works of CJ Box, it will not hurt my feelings.
As long timers know…. I listen to 100+ books/year. I know a little something about modern action-adventure fiction. I have several dozen “favorites”. CJ Box is “most favorite”.
If you DO check-out CJ Box’s Joe Pickett Series I suggest you begin in chronological order as each of the now 16 books builds on those that preceded it in the series. Certainly the author supplies enough “back-story” to not make “read’em in order” a requirement, I strongly recommend you do. Open Season is #1 in the series.
Joe is a Wyoming game warden. Marybeth is his patient, loving wife and mother of their two daughters – Sheridan & Lucy. Joe’s faithful dog – Daisy – and a never-ending series of Wyoming Fish & Game Dept pick-up trucks that Joe manages to wreck in the course of his often-violent adventures.
About Joe, the New York Times once wrote, “…Box introduced us to his unlikely hero, a game warden named Joe Pickett, a decent man who lives paycheck to paycheck and who is deeply fond of his wife and his three daughters. Pickett isn’t especially remarkable except for his honesty and for a quality that Harold Bloom attributes to Shakespeare — the ability to think everything through for himself.” I still like that. I’ve been surprised and gratified how the character of Joe Pickett has resonated with readers across the country and around the world.
The character of Joe Pickett is, in a way, the antithesis of many modern literary protagonists. He’s happily married with a growing family of daughters. He does not arrive with excess emotional baggage, or a dark past that haunts him. He works hard and tries, sincerely, to “do the right thing.” He doesn’t talk much. He’s a lousy shot. He’s human, and real, which means he sometimes screws up.
It would probably be a fine series if it was “just Joe”….. But Wait – There’s More.
Wyoming Governor Spencer Rulon….. an eccentric loon of the first order forever sending “my range rider” Joe on impossible assignments while trying, unsuccessfully, to keep his own irascible bureaucrats off Joe’s back. Joe does not play well with bureaucrats at all. Who does?
And then…. there’s Nate “The Master Falconer”. While we might all imagine ourselves as “Joe” – his normalcy is his greatest attribute. There ain’t nothing normal about Nate Romanowski.
NOTE: CJ Box has steadfastly refused to authorize a TV series or movie about Joe & Nate. He says it is because we all have our own image of Joe and Nate and Governor Rulon and Marybeth et al. Lee Child choosing Tom Cruise to play Reacher will never happen with Joe & Nate. ….. Box has no sex in his stories but considerable “blood & guts” both animal and human. Nate’s solution to most problems is efficient but a bit messy.
Assuming most of you are familiar with “Jack Reacher”…. Nate is “Reacher On Steroids”. Where Reacher is Johnny Appleseed With An Attitude, roaming America from bus stop to bus stop with his toothbrush…. Nate is simply “out there” in the wilds of Wyoming with his birds of prey.
Several authors use the character of “the rogue spec ops guy off-the-grid” none have quite the fascinating persona of Nate Romanowski. The only comparable I have ever found is Myron Bolitar’s buddy – Win. Check out Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series.
Nate is not Joe’s Sidekick in the traditional “buddy way”. Nate simply shows up when Joe or his family are threatened. Nate makes the threat go away. Nate is “a very scary guy” who stands with his friend Joe “the quintessential good guy”.
The series does have a general formula to each adventure…. which is why I enjoy them so.
In this latest – Off The Grid – I knew Nate would suddenly appear when Sheridan thought her plight was hopeless…. and that bad guy body parts would explode. Nate is a man of very few words and a very big gun.
If the concept of modern day Wyoming outdoors does not seem appealing to you…. don’t let that stop you from checking out CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series.
It’s not at all like John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee series…. except I REALLY enjoy both of’em.