Reviews by L. J. Roberts


C. J. BOX – Shadows Reel. Joe Pickett #22. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover, March 2022; paperback, August 2022. Setting: Contemporary Wyoming.

C. J. BOX Joe Pickett

First Sentence: Lorne Trumley had called dispatch to report a dead moose on his ranch.

   Game Warden Joe Pickett goes to the scene where allegedly a moose has been burned. Instead, he finds the tortured and burned body of a local fishing guide. Librarian Marybeth Pickett receives an anonymous package containing the photo album of a former Nazi officer. The Pickett’s friend, falconer Nate Romanowski, is tracking the man who attacked his family and stole his falcons. “This won’t end well.”

   It is challenging when an author whose entire catalogue of books one has loved, writes one that is painful to read, and not in a literary sense. All the elements one normally loves seem to be missing. What happened to the warm, supportive relationship between Joe and his wife, Marybeth? Where is the subtle humor that has been a trademark of Box’s writing?

   Political viewpoints seem to be the theme de jour and certainly not everyone will agree with various points of view. However, a writer is usually expected to maintain some degree of objectivity or, at the very least, do their research. Box missed both these marks by an extremely wide margin. The author’s usual high-quality storytelling is painfully absent. The crass, sexist descriptions of the woman in the bar would embarrass pulp fiction authors of 1940s.

   Shadows Reel could have been a good book with an intriguing plot, particularly as related to the photo album. The one and only bright spot was the Pickett daughters. Unfortunately, there was so much about this book that was cringeworthy, it wasn’t worth spending the time to finish. The worst part is that it causes one to question even reading the next book.

Rating:  DNF (Did Not Finish).