C. J. Box – A Man with a Cowboy Hat

Vicious Circle

When we think of the American West we think about the bandits who once attacked stagecoaches and trains -- wearing masks. They were the bad guys.. Now all of us are wearing masks. It's disconcerting to be the one behind the mask. I had to make an appointment at my bank to get into my safe deposit box -- and I went in there wearing a mask. But then the few people working there were also wearing masks. Somehow I felt like we were all the bad guys -- hiding behind our masks. It's disconcerting.

I don't know about you, but I do find some solace, some moments of forgetting for a moment our current problems, by getting lost in a book. Among the books I can read right now are C.J. Box's Joe Pickett series. It is because they are set in the American West. Wide open spaces. Clean air. Where you can be outside without a mask.

C.J. Box is one of my favorite writers because I love his books and because my listeners always let me know how much they enjoy our interviews. This interview about Vicious Circle, Book 17 of the series is really fun. We talk about lots of things -- including 'aluminium' hair.

I never expected to become such a fan of Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, but that's what happens when great writers draw you into their universe. You get lost in the pages, you start to live in the pages. I just like Joe. I feel like I would enjoy spending time with this government worker.  Not a usual feeling when the only government workers you interact with are either driver license employees or IRS officials. Joe is someone you want to know. We meet him first in Open Seasons, where the pow-WHOP sound of a high powered rifle makes him stop working on the elk-fence he is building. He's wearing a Wranglers and straw cowboy hat, he wipes his forehead with a bandanna.  We can see him.  We know that we will never forget him. We have to tip our hats to C.J. Box, who has created more than a character, he has created a friend for all of us to get to know over twenty books.

(For all you writers out there -- or those who dream of writing -- read the first page of Open Season. It is a great example of how to introduce an unforgettable character.)

So go West, young and old, where C.J. Box will take you into the foothills of the mountains where outstretched fingers of timber reach down into the high sage that reflects blue in the heat.

“Meet Joe Pickett: He’s going to be a mystery star.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“C. J. Box is a great storyteller.”—Tony Hillerman

 

“A great crime novel.”—Lee Child

 

“A muscular first novel…Box writes as straight as his characters shoot, and he has a stand-up hero to shoulder his passionate concerns about endangered lives and liberties.”The New York Times Book Review

 

“Intriguing, with a forest setting so treacherous it makes Nevada Barr’s locales look positively comfy, with a motive for murder that is as unique as any in modern fiction. Pickett is a refreshingly human and befuddled hero...But it’s Box’s offbeat way of telling the story that puts it on the best of the year track.”Los Angeles Times

“C.J. Box might represent an endangered species himself: a first novelist who is getting his due…Box’s book has it allsuspenseful plot, magnificent scenery and a flawed male hero who is tough but truly connected to his family…profoundly memorable.”Boston Herald

 

“Every few years a first novel appears that immediately sets itself apart from the crowd. As readers, we feel that special shock of recognition that announces, ‘Here is something special.’ Taking dead aim with his first sentence…Box remains square on target throughout this nearly word-perfect debut...Best of all, the soft-spoken Joe Pickett is a Gary Cooper for our time.”—Booklist (starred review)

 

“A high-country Presumed Innocent that moves like greased lightning.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

“Pickett [is] an engaging change from the fast-driving, trigger-happy male heroes of so many contemporary crime novels.”—Washington Post Book World

About the Author

C. J. Box is the author of twenty Joe Pickett novels, five stand-alone novels, and a story collection. He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry Awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38, and has been a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. A Wyoming native, Box has also worked on a ranch and as a small-town newspaper reporter and editor. He lives outside Cheyenne with his family. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

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