Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stone Cold by C.J. Box

First Sentence:  Nate Romanowski pushed the drift boat onto the Bighorn River at three-thirty in the morning on a Sunday in early October and let the silent muscle of the current pull him away from the grassy bank.
      
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is sent on a special assignment by the Governor.  Wolfgang Templeton has purchased a magnificent old mansion and most of the private holdings in Medicine Wheel County, located in a remote part of the state.  The Feds suspect he is running a high-end, murder-for-hire business.  On paper, he seems legitimate but the Feds are worrying the Governor so he wants Joe to look into it, but not get involved.  Joe has another concern in that his eldest daughter, Sheridan, is concerned about a young man on the same floor of her college dorm, who wears only black, keeps strictly to himself and plays first-person shooter video games.
      
There’s nothing like a dramatic opening that immediately captures your attention and, boy, does Box ever do that.  Add to that wonderful descriptions…”It was twenty-four degrees and steam rose from the surface of the black water in thick tendrils…” and you are completely absorbed from the first page.
      
Joe is such a wonderful character.  He has a good marriage that has survived the rough spots, and children to whom he is dedicated.  He believes in the law, although he isn’t above bending it at bit in the name of justice, and in doing his job even when others won’t.  He is not good at turning his back or keeping a low profile.  He has a strong moral code and an equally strong loyalty to his friends.  At the FBI building, he was willing to check his cell phone and weapons, but wouldn’t give up his hat.  He may be a poor shot with a sidearm, but he's dangerous with a rifle.  And whatever you do, don’t lend him a car, truck or any other vehicle.  He is someone you’d definitely want on your side.
      
Beyond Joe, Box is very good at bringing characters to life.    You have a sense of who they are; none of them are one dimensional.  For those of us following the series, it is nice to have Nate involved.  And boy, is he ever involved.  Box also brings the area to life by providing an interesting history of Medicine Wheel County.

      
Stone Cold” ratchets up tension.   It is suspenseful, horrifying, and tragic; and then Box throws in a surprise, just for fun.  I can’t wait for the next book.   

STONE COLD (Lic Invest-Joe Pickett-Wyoming-Contemp) – Ex
C.J. Box – 14th in series
Putnam, 2014       

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