13 November 2006

Once again with the mind candy

I just read another of C. J. Box's novels. Nancy found these books in one of our favorite West Yellowstone bookstores and brought 5 of them home last summer. I've been reading them in chronological order.

This was his fourth, the 2004 Trophy Hunt.

To me this was the best of his novels to date. Box wrote on his web site that he wanted this book to be a "real mystery." I think he succeeded. There was much less of the brooding foreshadowing that dominated his first three books, and there was much more complexity to the plot. And there were hints and red herrings about what was really going on.

The main character is Joe Pickett, an ambitious game warden, and the story unfolds from his perspective. As a reader, you'll know little that Joe doesn't know before he knows it. But, if you're like me, you'll think you've figured out the meaning of all those clues sooner than Joe does. If you're better at that game than I am, maybe you will figure it out. The plot's complexity will probably keep you from figuring it all out.

That leads to my one reservation about the book. The complexity seems to keep author Box from figuring it all out too. His character Pickett bemoans the "woo-woo" part of his friend Nate's take on the world. Picket is an empiricist, plain and simple. He has no time for spiritual or supernatural explanations. But Box relies on some that "woo-woo" to tie up his story. Box needs coincidence and the retribution of nature to end his story. Ah, said Pickett on the last page of the book, "I hate that woo-woo crap." His friend Nate replied, "I know you do," and smiled.

I dislike that "woo-woo crap" too. I also smiled, when I finished the book. There's something to be said for just retribution. Now, I'm ready to go on to the fifth novel.

See C. J. Box's web site on Trophy Hunt

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