C.J. Box delivers another fine Joe Pickett thriller

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Off the Grid

C.J. Box

Writers C.J. Box and Craig Johnson are like the Balzac and Proust of Wyoming crime fiction. Johnson has his series with Sheriff Walt Longmire, and Box rocks it with game warden Joe Pickett. It's impossible to say which is better — they're both just superb — and we in Reader Land are particularly lucky. Box has just published "Off the Grid," in which Pickett's long-time pal Nate Romanowski, an ex-Special Forces dude turned falconer/libertarian activist, takes a lead role. To avoid prosecution on some shadowy deed or another, Romanowsky agrees to head into Wyoming's remote Red Desert to search for a missing U.S. journalist of Middle Eastern lineage. It's possible the reporter, during extended assignments in Yemen and Syria, became radicalized, and intel suggests he might be up to significant No Good in the Red Desert. Off goes Romanowski and, when Pickett goes on special assignment from the Governor to discover why equipment like 18-wheelers have been stolen, the trail leads him — yes — to the Red Desert, as well. It's a convenient coincidence, but throw in a rogue Grizzly Bear and a clever spin on the idea of domestic terrorism — and the wonderful characters and prose — and it's a magnificent, tense read.

Rick Koster

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