Out of Range

By C.J. Box

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Berkley Prime Crime, c2005, 2006

Genre: Mystery, eco-fiction

Series: Joe Pickett Novel; 5

ISBN: 9780425209455

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 310

Setting: Saddlestring & Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Time period: early 2000s

Plot summary: When Will Jensen, the game warden for Jackson Hole, commits suicide, Joe is sent to temporarily cover this district for hunting season.  “Jackson is Wyoming’s very own California” (p. 42) and Joe must deal not only with hunters, but also land developers and animal rights activists.  Joe is also asked by his supervisor to try to find out why Will pulled the trigger and Joe is anxious to comply because he and Will had a lot in common.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: The first few chapters move a bit more slowly than the rest of the book; by the time Joe gets to Jackson, the pace moves rather quickly.

Characterization: Written in third person from various viewpoints.  Most of the story is told from Joe’s perspective.

Frame: Meat, eating, food systems, and relationships with animals are frames for this story.

Story line: An intense story with very real seeming characters.  Box blends a highly controversial issue – the ethics of eating animals and modern Americans’ relationships with the food they eat – in a suspenseful mystery which highlights the beauty and wildness of the Wyoming Rocky Mountains.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Pickett, Joe (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Game wardens — Fiction.

Wyoming — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Similar authors: There is a great article by Joyce Saricks in NoveList about C.J. Box and the appeal of the Joe Pickett series.  As I expected, the first similar author she suggested was Nevada Barr and the Anna Pigeon series.  A few other authors suggested by her are Michael McGarrity, William Kent Krueger, and Steve Hamilton.

I would also add: Tony Hillerman, Craig Johnson – Walt Longmire Mysteries, and Dana Stabenow – Kate Shugak Novels.

Personal notes: After the first chapter, I really enjoyed this book.  The first chapter is very intense – especially for someone who doesn’t eat much meat.

I think this would be a great book to read for a discussion centered around how we eat, where our food comes from, and our relationships with food and the earth.  I know my brain was reeling as I made my way through this story.  Box starts each section of the book with quotes from different sources related to food, meat, hunting, and ethics.  I noticed one was by Michael Pollan – from An Animal’s Place (November 10, 2002) – which I tracked down and read (which gave me even more to think about).

Other (diversity, themes, websites):

C.J. Box’s website


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