Review

Out of Range

by C. J. Box



If you aren't familiar with the name "C. J. Box" you're missing out
on something, and someone, special. Box has written a series of
novels featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett; nominally
mysteries --- Box has picked up a slew of awards and an additional
bunch of nominations from just about every mystery organization you
can name --- they also could be classified as modern westerns, or
just straight-up drama fiction. While there is something in these
novels for fans of James Lee Burke or Tony Hillerman, Box also
evokes the spirit, if not the style, of Elmore Leonard and even
John Cheever, without sacrificing his own, unique voice.

Pickett is that rare civil servant who actually likes his work,
finding a niche that permits him to do a good job with some measure
of independence. The lesson that it is easier to obtain forgiveness
than permission has not been lost on Pickett, and it works well in
his professional life, if not his personal one. So it is that in
OUT OF RANGE, Box's latest effort, Pickett finds himself trying to
adapt to a new position while making a long distance effort to keep
the home fires under control, with mixed results on both
fronts.

OUT OF RANGE begins with the suicide of Will Jensen. Jensen, like
Pickett, is a Wyoming game warden and Pickett's good friend. When
Pickett is asked to temporarily run Jensen's gaming district, he
jumps at the chance, hoping that it will result in some long-term
job advancement. Pickett soon finds, however, that he is in over
his head. Jackson, Wyoming, the location of Pickett's new duty
station, is ground zero for the war between developers and
environmental extremists, and Pickett is sorely unprepared when he
finds himself caught in the middle of the fray.

But Pickett is even more disturbed when he finds himself slowly
coming to the conclusion that his old friend may have been driven
to take his life by outside forces. As he closes in on the true
reason behind Jensen's death, he begins experiencing unpredictable
episodes of blackouts and mood swings, similar to what Jensen
experienced shortly before he died. To make matters worse,
Pickett's wife, already struggling to keep their home together, is
beset upon from an unexpected source, which it appears she must
face, and resolve, on her own.

Box exhibits a subtle and quiet narrative style that speaks with a
voice of experience and somber grace, whether he is describing a
sunset on a mountain range or an early morning in a budget hotel.
When building suspense, Box slowly, almost casually, assembles his
elements, slowly ratcheting things up by degrees so that the
reader's pulse is racing long before they're even aware of it. Read
OUT OF RANGE, and become a believer.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 14, 2011

Out of Range
by C. J. Box

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425209458
  • ISBN-13: 9780425209455