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Probably the Weakest in the Joe Pickett Series
on 29 May 2013
I have really enjoyed the eleven previous Joe Pickett Novels - They have an almost Scandinavian feel to them - where there is a deeper social, economic or, in CJ Box's case, often environmental reason behind the human wrongdoings. Generally CJ lets both sides of the arguments speak and in the end Joe Pickett's sense of decency and determination get to the truth wins out and justice is served. The characters are often better nuanced than other thriller writers with both good points and personality flaws. In the earlier books the family were having real problems in the marriage and with the daughters and dealing with them as best they can. It added to the appeal of a different voice from the hardbitten, alcoholic, womanising loser / loner one dimensional anti heroes of so many others. But the series has gradually lost a lot of that subtlety and moved towards a more libertarian simplistic government is bad / incompetent / corrupt ethos (even though Joe works for them).
One of the other flaws in the previous structures was that the excessively violent Nate (a modern day loner / cowboy character) would appear almost out of nowhere and solve problems usually with olympic standard shooting and some Tarantino type violence.
This novel places Nate as the main character and so loses a lot of the emotional complexity and becomes an old fashioned shoot-em-up in the Wyoming Mountains. It compares the work of military special forces to that of a bird of prey doing what it has to do without mercy or conscience, usually out of a misplaced sense of 'Patriotism' In the end we see what happens when that approach goes wrong, but its solution is more of the same with "good" violent rogue "patriots" killing "bad" violent rogue patriots with both sides using torture and summary execution to further their political aims.
In this novel CJ Box has undoubtedly slipped from his usual high standard but it won't stop me reading the next one in the series either.