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Saturday, November 22, 2014

BELOW ZERO (Joe Pickett #9) by C.J. Box

Published in 2009 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Years ago, person who left a comment on one of my Amazon reviews told me about C.J. Box and gave me the title to his first book featuring Joe Pickett. I found it at the library and I was hooked. If you like Michael Connelly or Robert Crais, you will love C.J. Box. If you like Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police books than I am sure that you will enjoy Box's descriptions of the local landscape and the people of Wyoming.

In Below Zero Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett is working on two cases. The first case (and the minor one in the story) concern's Joe's pursuit of the Mad Archer, a poacher that likes to shoot his arrows at just about anything. Besides out of season game, the Mad Archer has shot a bald eagle and Tube, the ultra-friendly Corgi-Labrador mix that Pickett has adopted. Joe arrests him and he promptly skips town while out on bail and Joe goes back on the hunt for him.

The main story concerns a dying Chicago mobster enforcer named Stenko and his ultra-environmentalist son who wants Stenko to make amends for the gigantic carbon footprint that he has accrued over a lifetime of high roller living. Stenko and his son are roaming through South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado looking for opportunities to stop people from contributing to America's overall carbon footprint. Typically, this involves Stenko using skills with a pistol to kill heavy polluters or try to shake them down to pay for carbon offsets.

At first I was thrown off by the heavy-handed tactics of Stenko and son, thinking that it was over-the-top nonsense. But, I started doing some more thinking and I remembered some quotes from ultra-environmentalists like these:

"I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems." -- John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

"Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental." -- Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!


"To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem" -- Lamont Cole

So, take these comments and add action to them and Stenko and son don't seem quite so unrealistic. 

Normally, Joe Pickett wouldn't be too worried about this mobster since it is not really a game warden issue. But, when Joe's daughter gets a phone call from April Keeley (their foster daughter that was presumed to be dead from a federal raid in an earlier book) he cannot help but be curious - even more so when it looks like April is being forced to ride along with Stenko and son...

Nate Romanowski plays a large role in this story. Normally, I am not a fan of Nate, but I liked him quite a bit in this one. In fact, I liked this book quite a bit. I tore right through it.

Great quote from the book: "...there is no sound in nature that makes men move along faster than the pumping of a shotgun." (p. 39)

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.
Reviewed on November 22, 2014

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