23 April 2013

Boxing the feds

C. J. Box knows how to describe adventure. He's good. He's also good at corralling me into his stories with characters and story lines.

I picked up my Nook last night and began reading his latest, Breaking Point. I read longer than I intended to because I quickly got caught up in the morality play he was telling. This morning, I resumed reading when the power went out and I couldn't use my computer and we had no Internet connection. By the time the power was restored, I'd read enough to keep me from doing much of anything but read the rest of the day. Melodrama, action, danger, childish and nasty evil doers, and a great wild fire in the Wyoming mountains will do that to me.

Throughout the adventure, I was distracted by the unbelievable oversimplifications and the Wyoming politics that pervaded the book. I have some sympathy for honest libertarian politics, I'm firmly convinced of the need for the rule of law rather then the rule of individuals, and the need for the realistic right of appeal and review of institutional decision making.

However, Box didn't come close to convincing me to endorse his views about big government and bureaucracy by ignoring the ambiguities of a real life situation that he says his story is based upon. And he further distances his cause from me by inventing a villain who pursues childish revenge through the unrealistic use of bureaucratic power. His bad guy displays no outward signs or talents of leadership that would get him into a position of power, especially in hide bound federal bureaucracy. What Box describes could only happen in the crazed imaginations of Tea Party radicals.

Now a couple secondary villains in the story strike me as more plausible. Their power is not as extensive, but their threat is great. If Box wants to promote his political ideas beyond Wyoming, he needs to keep things real and believable.

A canyon from Breaking Point?
So, what story am I talking about? A couple armed EPA agents are killed while delivering some legal papers. A federal manhunt ensues and sweeps game warden Joe Pickett into its process. There is a private manhunt taking place at the same time and as things spin out of control, there are murders, drones, a huge forest fire, and an improvised rafting trip down a wilderness river. There are some family matter sidelines and a few misdirections, but mostly is simplified politics and action adventure.

The story telling is great and compelling. That kept me going.

Have you read Breaking Point? What did you think of it? Write and tell this little bit of the world.

1 comment:

Ken Wedding said...

My sister in Oregon wrote:

Ok, so I finished BREAKING POINT.

Pure screed, based on less than accurate portrayal of an actual situation. When did Cheney start writing under the nom de plume of C.J. Box? Or was it a collaboration with Rand Paul?

I believe we were left at the end with forests burning out of control, while Joe Pickett "revealed" the oh-how-lame-can-you-get "truth" (which had been telegraphed long before) in a speech to the bad guy on the last few pages. Not a bit of it was satisfying. I didn't like it.

Read his FREE FIRE - great story, fascinating information, good writing. DON'T waste a minute on this new one, and I will be leery of picking up any that follow.

Read almost any one of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor mysteries instead. Start at the beginning of his series, and you'll be hooked.