Reviews by L. J. Roberts

C. J. BOX – Breaking Point. Putnam, hardcover, March 2013.

C. J. BOX Breaking Point

Genre:  Licensed investigator. Leading character:   Joe Pickett, 13th in series. Setting:   Wyoming.

First Sentence:   On an early morning in mid-August, EPA Special Agents Tim Singewald and Lenox Baker left the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency building at 1595 Wynkoop Street in downtown Denver in a Chevrolet Malibu SA hybrid sedan they’d checked out from the motor pool.

   When Joe finds a cut fence and his neighbor, Butch, on Wilderness land, he doesn’t think too much about it. However, when the EPA and Feds come in and insist on taking over an investigation of two murdered EPA agents found on the neighbor’s land, Joe seriously questions their motives and methods. In order to keep things as controlled as possible, he agrees to lead the agents into the mountains to track Butch down.

   Boy, can this man write!! The story is completely engrossing; all the more so as the premise is taken from a true story. If anything, I can’t quite understand why Box is not as popular and widely read as other, similar authors. It’s certainly not for lack of
storytelling. Perhaps it is because he calls out the wrong-doing of some who work for public agencies and misuse their positions. I appreciate it, as it is one way to keep such agencies in check.

   Box’s characters rank among the best. Joe is a man of strong morality and integrity, but knows there are times when justice must prevail over the letter of the law.
He’s also not perfect, which makes him even better. His marriage has gone through rough patches, but they’re stronger for it. His daughters are growing up and are written very realistically for their ages.

    I like that Pickett’s friend Nate Romanowki, an “off-the-grid” free agent and a favorite character of the series’ fans, makes an appearance, albeit a small one. For those who’ve not yet read the series, there is enough information to jump in and not feel lost. However, do yourselves a favor — start at the beginning and catch up. It’s well worth the reading.

   There is incredible sense of place. The tension and suspense are palpable. Box’s ability to convey emotion is tangible. You feel Joe’s anger, fear, jubilation and sorrow.

   The sign of a really good book is when you had intended to turn the light out at 10 p.m., but find yourself still reading until 2 a.m. in order to finish, and the ending leaves you a bit stunned. Breaking Point is that good.

Rating:   Excellent.