03 December 2006

Out of Range

The title of C. J. Box's fourth mystery is Out of Range. Like the first three, the action centers around Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett.

The story is well told and the plot is interestingly convoluted. In the course of four books, Pickett has gone from being a marginally naive good guy to being a marginally naive man of action. He accumulates enemies that foreshadow coming books. I know from looking at a copy at Barnes and Noble that the menace in the most recently-published book originates in the first "Joe Pickett novel." And Joe's "allies" are more tenuous than his enemies. In this book, even his wife is questionably reliable (for good reasons).

The publisher likes to quote comments comparing Box's books to Tony Hillerman's because of the spirit of place that pervades the stories. However, Tony Hillerman's deserts are lyrically and beautifully drawn into his books in ways that Box might someday come close to when describing the high plains and mountains of northern Wyoming. And I like Hillerman's characters more than I like Joe Pickett, his family, and friends -- except for Pickett's oldest daughter Sheridan. She's 12 and headed for a rocky adolescence. Hey, C. J., write a story about Sheridan.

These books are good reading for traveling. I read most of this during our 1,100-mile sojourn at Thanksgiving. It would be a good book for a plane trip -- the first half on the outbound flight; the second half on the return. If you like mysteries, they're worth checking out. However, a surer thing would be Tony Hillerman's latest, The Shape Shifter, which I hope to read early in the new year.

1 comment:

Ken Wedding said...

Kevin R. Tipple has left a new comment on your post "Out of Range":

I think Box is much better than Hillerman and was from his first novel. For me, the writing is better, the descriptions more vivid, and the characters much more interesting.

Kevin R. Tipple