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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Breaking Point (Joe Pickett #13) by C. J. Box

Inspired by a true case of abuse of power by the EPA

Published March 12, 2013 by Putnam

I really enjoy C.J. Box's Joe Pickett series but I freely admit that I, sadly, just sort of forget about these great books. There's no reason for that because this series is every bit as good as the ones I never forget about (Michael Connelly and Robert Crais) but I just do.

Breaking Point is an excellent addition to the series. The book features a local landowner and his family who are told by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they need to stop construction on their property in a subdivision at the edge of Saddlestring, Wyoming because it is a "wetland" even though there is no water and no spring on it. They are given a few days to return the property to its pre-construction condition or face stiff fines ($70,000 per day). The property owners are given no way to appeal the decision and no one will discuss the problem with them from the EPA.

When the family resumes construction two armed EPA agents arrive to issue a cease and desist order and are killed and buried. The father of the family is on the run and only Joe Pickett can track him down. But, he finds these government agents hard to stomach and is not real sure that the man he is tracking wasn't provoked by his own government.

Throughout the book there is a consistent theme of excessive government regulation (federal, state and local) and the bureaucrats that enforce them not even bothering themselves to see the effects of their rulings. There are a lot of comments about not caring about the people involved because moving the paperwork is more important and the dangers of government workers getting too close to the people around them and how it can be difficult to enforce regulations if they "go native" rather than valuing the idea of getting to know the people they are regulating.

The inspiration for this story is the Supreme Court case Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency - a case that did not lead to violence but did involve an incontestable ruling that a piece of property in a subdivision was actually wetland, despite the lack of water. Click here for more information on that case.

The novel moves along at a breakneck pace and is one of the best novels I have read this year.

Note: I was sent a pre-publication copy of this book by the publisher as a part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Breaking Point by C.J. Box.

Reviewed on April 17, 2013.

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