Thursday, January 26, 2023

Review: Storm Watch: A Joe Pickett Novel by C. J. Box


The worsening weather this day in late March for Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett means that he is on the clock. A major snowstorm is coming down from the Bighorn Mountains. He is on foot and on the hunt for an injured elk after a collision between the elk and a car earlier that morning. The elk had left the scene on three good legs according to a state trooper, so now Game Warden Pickett has to find that elk and end its suffering before the storm hits.


Snow is heavy on the ground as it is thanks to a winter of relentless and constant storms. More snow and high winds are going to make a bad situation way worse. Time is of the essence. He calls and gets permission from the foreman of the Double Diamond Ranch known to all as “The Double D” to cross their land in pursuit of the badly injured elk. With one eye on the darkening sky rolling down from the mountains, he sets out following the trail.


After being on the trail of the elk for a few minutes, he finds a vehicle hidden in the trees off of an old small two track road. He investigates and nobody is in the SUV. Thanks to the fact that it is unlocked, he also finds that the interior is fairly warm. Among other things inside is a topographical map with four locations marked by x’s in a black marker. The person or persons from the car are not lost. They meant to be here in this isolated spot though they may not have counted on the powerful storm closing in on the area by the minute.


As Pickett begins to look around the immediate area, he realizes he is hearing a mechanical scream coming from somewhere nearby, He gets up on a ridge and starts looking for the missing person or persons as well as the source for the noise. As the snow begins to build in intensity, he can see tracks from the SUV to a nearby small metal building of some type. The longer he looks at the structure, he realizes that a dark form is hanging out of the steel louvers on one side of the building


The dark form is a person and not moving.  


What follows is a complicated read that touches on espionage, the growing Sovereign Citizen movement, domestic terrorism, and a host of other issues driving our nation’s politics at this time. The MAGA crowd comes in for their fair share of criticism as do other groups on the far right.  Various characters depict those positions and their behavior and statements may offend readers who believe in their cause.


While there is a mystery here as to what is going on, this is a politics heavy thriller more than anything. It shows the ongoing shift of the last few books from the solidly good mysteries that began the series to more of thrillers populated with cardboard cutouts as secondary characters.


It is my hope that Mr. Boxx returns to his roots that made this series so good in future installments in this series.



My reading copy came by way of the publisher through NetGalley. Publication day is 2/28/2023. 


Kevin R. Tipple ©2023

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