Savage Run by C J Box


The second novel about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett not only meets the standard of the first, Open Season, but exceeds it. This series is shaping up to be highly readable. Savage Run has a simpler, leaner plot, without an element of “whodunnit” suspense, and without Joe’s children taking centre stage. The theme is (again) environmentalists versus ranchers/landowners, this time the environmentalists concerned are those who create a lot of publicity for their cause by breaking the law or protesting volubly. One of them, for example, attempts to fly a plane full of wolves from Canada to Wyoming, in order to reintroduce these animals into their “natural environment”.

The author does not take sides, though his evident love for the land and its natural resources are very clear, and represented by his simple, direct hero Joe. Joe is perpetually torn between his instinctive sympathy for those in his community who are increasingly struggling to make ends meet as the land is bought out by rich corporations or magnates, and his strong disapproval of those who break the law he is employed to enforce, for example by hunting or fishing out of season.

In Savage Run, extremist environmentalists are being ruthlessly targeted in various parts of the country. Joe and one of them, an entertaining (though initially irritating) character who turns out to have a previous friendship with Joe’s wife Marybeth, find themselves in an unlikely alliance, being pursued across the ravines and mountains by an adversary who seems to be a reincarnation of the legendary Tom Horn. Unfortunately there is some violence, but toned down compared with the first novel – I hope the start of a trend.

I found this novel to be pleasantly engaging, telling a good story in an undemanding fashion. I liked the moral message and the small but important domestic dilemmas that Joe, a rather serious-minded character, constantly faces. His struggle to become accepted by the community in which he lives seems to be destined to failure, given his policing role – which he carries out with an assiduousness not shared by the sheriff or with other authority figures.

I purchased the US mass market edition of this novel. It was first published in the USA in 2002, and is being published in the UK later this year by Corvus, together with the other novels in the series.

Reviews of Savage Run are at: Allreaders.com (Harriet Klausner), Cat’s Meow Book Nook (!) and The Best Reviews.

My review of Open Season, the first in this series.

Author’s website.

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14 thoughts on “Savage Run by C J Box

  1. I can see I will have to put this series on my list. When I have read a few of those on the shelf … I have made some progress, though. In January I have read five from my TBR and one new.

  2. That’s great progress, Dorte. When you get around to these, I don’t think each book will take long to read (based on the first two).

  3. Maxine – A fine, fine review, as ever. Thanks :-). I really do like the way Box evokes the land and the people who live there. It is really quite obvious, as you point out, that he has a real affinity for it. I definitely need to read more of his stuff…

  4. I do like the way he talks about the environment in the couple of his books I have read. I have got the first one of these on my wishlist and they are all at my library – must reduce TBR a little first though.

  5. You might want to stop in at Crime Scraps and send condolences, as the reason the blog hasn’t been updated in recent days is very sad. I’ll blog in at the usual spots, and let people know.

  6. I sent you an email in response to your previous question about Crime Scraps, in order to update you, Kathy, but it bounced back as your inbox was full.

  7. Sorry about that. Apprently both of my inboxes are full. Will take care of that. Norm did post his tragic news, under his “quiz” blog post.

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