In the tenth novel in the series about Joe Pickett, Wyoming game warden, Joe is finishing his year’s secondment in Baggs. His last task before he returns to MaryBeth and his daughters is to check out some disturbing reports of vandalism from the mountain wilderness. In the first section of the book, Joe scouts the countryside with his two horses, eventually coming across two brothers who are living wild off the land. Their encounter is not a friendly one, but Joe escapes to a remote cabin whose inhabitant, a woman, provides him with brief protection. Seriously wounded, Joe eventually makes it back to civilisation and hospital, where he soon finds that his accounts of what he found are not believed by the various law-enforcement agencies concerned. Once again, Joe is treated with a degree of scepticism bordering in some cases on contempt.
He has MaryBeth, however, and the second section of the book focuses on the family’s life in Saddlestring. There are many teenage tensions between the girls; as well as being out of his depth in this area, Joe focuses on doing domestic chores in preparation for a hoped-for move back into the countryside now that MaryBeth’s business has been sold for a reasonable profit. During this period, Joe becomes reacquainted with an old friend as well as encountering a desperate couple who have reasons to want Joe to return to the scene of his mountain adventure – hence setting up the third and final part of the novel.
Nowhere to Run is more small-scale than the previous, somewhat over-the-top book, Below Zero. It’s all the better for that. With its mix of lyrical description of the woods and mountains of this natural wilderness, and its examination of a range of attitudes to property, freedom and the rights of the individual vs the State, Nowhere to Run delivers a thought-provoking yet entertaining read that does not oversimplify the moral dilemmas faced by Joe or his friends.
I’m now almost up to date with this series, as the latest installment, Cold Wind (# 11), is only just published in hardback. Reading these books has been a very absorbing and interesting experience; one which I’m sure I shall continue as new titles are published. The novels hark back to the times of the classic American cowboy Shane, when life was tough but values were simpler and simply resolved. These solutions cannot always apply nowadays, and C J Box nicely brings out the tension of traditional against modern values, while never forgetting that he’s writing mystery books, and writing about a family facing the same emotional and practical issues as many of us, as children grow up and money becomes in ever-more short supply.
I purchased my copy of this book.
Read my reviews of the entire Joe Pickett series here.
About the author and his books at his UK publisher, Corvus.
About Nowhere to Run at the author’s website.
Nowhere to Run has been reviewed at: Spinetingler, Kirkus reviews and Bookreporter.