Monday, April 4, 2011


Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett faces new challenges in “Cold Wind” by C.J. Box, (Putnam, $25,95), the eleventh crime novel in his popular series.

Joe is back home with his wife Marybeth and his family in Saddlestring; his detested mother-in-law Missy calls, claiming that her millionaire husband, Earl Alden is missing.

Heading out to the ranch to investigate, Joe is surprised to find Earl dead – his body up in the air, strapped to the blade of a spinning wind turbine.

Joe calls the local sheriff to the scene and the body is removed; soon Missy is arrested for the murder of her fifth husband.

Marybeth pushes Joe to investigate; he does so reluctantly, because he really can’t stand Missy and he’s not sure she’s altogether innocent.

Soon, Joe’s trying to track down Missy’s angry ex-husband Bud, who lost his ranch to her in a recent divorce.There are other suspects; Earl had made many enemies as he put together properties for his wind energy project.

As Joe seeks more answers, Missy lawyers up with a fancy high-priced attorney; the police have discovered the murder weapon and the district attorney thinks they’ve got a rock solid case. The bumbling sheriff is up for re-election and doesn’t want any negative publicity or complications.

Meanwhile, in an interesting sub plot, Joe’s violent friend Nate is still in hiding; an attempt on his life has devastating results. Now Nate is out for revenge, searching for answers, trying to locate a devious enemy.
Box is in fine form as he spins a top-notch, entertaining tale that could be torn from today’s headlines. He delves into the pros and cons of wind energy, offering insights without pontificating. He also deftly deals with a variety of dynamic family situations and an assortment of political issues.

There are many excellent plot twists and turns, with enough courtroom highjinks to please even a John Grisham fan. The jaw-dropping conclusion is quite unexpected; hints are given to further adventures of Joe and Nate in an ominous epilogue.

The award-winning author never disappoints, although it’s probably best to read the earlier books in the series to fully appreciate character development and growth. 

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 3, 2011.

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