Review by Gregg E. Brickman
In Below Zero, C.J. Box tantalizes the reader with a chilling chase across Wyoming, providing glimpses of wildlife and a flavor of Western geography in the telling.
Game Warden Joe Pickett is working out his banishment to remote Baggs, Wyoming, The-Place-Where-Game-Wardens-Are-Sent-to-Die. After a dicey case, the governor stepped in and sent him to Baggs to keep him out of the public eye. Pickett doesn’t hold the assignment against the governor, though he is plotting his return to his family and civilization. And he’s keeping himself occupied trying to take the Mad Archer—who has been shooting arrows into helpless animals—out of circulation. Pickett doesn’t hesitate to head home when his wife calls saying their daughter received a text message from a girl the family believed dead.
The girl has the facts to convince the Pickett family she’s telling the truth, relating personal information that only she would know. Though cryptic telephone dialogue, it’s obvious she is in the company of killers and wants help, but Pickett lacks the resources to trace the cell phone the girl is using. He contacts a friend at the FBI. Soon the agent in charge, with whom Pickett shares long standing animosity, takes over the case. Concerned that the FBI won’t protect the girl again, Pickett pulls his friend, fugitive Nate Romanowski, into the fray and increases his odds of finding her.
Below Zero is the ninth novel in Box’s Joe Pickett series. Box weaves enough back story in to bring new Box readers up to date. Within pages, the reader can identify with the likable and human protagonist who rescues wounded animals, tracks down criminals, aggravates the FBI, and befriends the homeless and helpless.
Below Zero is an excellent read.