Book Review: Murder In The Mountains

Winterkill is a Joe Pickett thriller written by C.J. Box. It was first published in 2003. Joe Pickett is a game warden for the state of Wyoming in this story. He is a devoted husband and father with two daughters, although he and his wife have taken in a foster child who they admirable consider theirs as well. April, the child they have taken in after her father is killed and the mother goes off the rails, becomes the center.

Joe’s adventure begins when he finds a federal official has gunned down several elk which violates some hunting restrictions. When Joe arrests a hysterical Lamar Gardiner, he is unprepared for Gardiner’s escape. He later finds his suspect show with two arrows in the snow and near death. Joe Pickett gets involved in the investigation, but he is distracted and distressed by the arrival of his foster daughter’s mother. Also, a group of anti-government naturalists are in the area. In spite of the murder and mayhem circling around him, Pickett finds that he has to protect his family more fiercely than before.

I rather like Joe Pickett as a character because in some ways he tends to be one of the more stable of literary characters these days. He has a solid marriage and a sense of morality that stretches far and wide. It does tend to make him appear a bit uninteresting at times, however I am thinking the point is to place him in situations where his sense of morality is tested. Box also provides some fascinating settings. Nature itself often works against Pickett when he has a vital task to fulfill. The murder of Lamar Gardiner is actually somewhat resolved quite early, but Box still has some story to tell.

Joe Pickett is a reliable, likable protagonist, but he is not all that fascinating. Some of the situations he finds himself in are quite compelling. Fortunately, he is likeable enough for me to still be interested in his next adventures.

It is time to move on to something a little more fitting to the upcoming Halloween festivities with Augustina Bazterrica’s Tender is the Flesh.

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