“Open Season – Joe Pickett #1” by C J Box – quietly entertaining novel with a strong male lead.

open season c j boxDescribing a thriller/mystery as “quietly entertaining” may seem perverse but it was the overall impression I was left with. Joe Pickett and his family are good people who work hard, try to do the right thing and be the best family they can.

Joe works as Warden in a Wyoming State Park. It’s a low wage job, with long hours and many opportunities to come into conflict with your (always armed and not always sober) neighbours who object to being ticketed for hunting violations. He and his pregnant wife are raising two daughters in the small, isolated house, that comes with the job.

Things go from challenging to life-threatening when Joe gets tangled up in a mystery involving a dead man in his backyard and outfitters shot dead in their camp.

Joe is a quiet man, calm in a crisis and slow to anger. I found watching him work out what is really going on is surprisingly calming.

The thriller aspects of the book are well done. There is a real sense of menace, especially in the scenes with Joe’s oldest daughter, and some very violent confrontations that are dealt with unflinchingly. There is also death and loss and poverty and corruption.

Yet at the heart of it is Joe and his family and you know they will stand strong.

I enjoyed the outdoor feel of the book, which takes the time to describe the landscape and sunshine instead of just rushing on with the plot. This is necessary to take in the sheer scale of Wyoming.

This is the start of a series of books. I’ll be reaching for the next one when I want to be in the company of a good man doing difficult things as well as he can.

 

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