Open Season by C.J. Box
This is the first book in the Joe Pickett series. It was published way back in 2001 when Joe was but a young man starting out with Wyoming Game and Fish.
In Open Season, we find our favorite game warden investigating the death of a man who is found alongside Joe’s woodpile. It is Sheridan, Joe’s 7 year old daughter, who first sees what she thinks is a monster come calling in the night. Eventually Joe realizes that what his little girl has witnessed is something more terrible than a bogeyman.
Subsequent investigations reveal the bodies of 2 more hunters, and lead to the shooting of the man believed to be responsible. But Joe is not so sure that all is as it seems, which is a good job for us as it would be a short book otherwise. As his colleagues try, strangely, to pressurize Joe into backing off the investigation, he discovers what seems to be a plot that deepens and becomes more dangerous with every step he takes.
Without giving too much away, I will state that there are environmental issues at the core of this tale. Sometimes it can be seen that protection of the environment, and the flora and fauna there, come a poor second to the pursuit of profit. The recent battles over the Dakota pipeline is a good example of this. Greed often Trumps good sense.
In Open Season, we not only get an introduction to the thoroughly likeable Joe Pickett, we also get to meet the charming and resourceful Sheridan. For a 7 year old, Sheridan gets a lot to do in this book, and it’s the better for it. We are given an insight into the mind of a young girl. We learn of the early relationship between Sheridan and her little sister, Lucy, and we are introduced to April who later becomes the adopted daughter of Joe and his wife Mary Beth. All the components that emerge in stories to come are here.
Rebel Voice has previously reviewed some of C.J. Box’s work. Off the Grid can be viewed here https://rebelvoice.blog/2017/09/15/off-the-grid/
Box is consistent in his storylines and character presentations. He knows his creations and delivers them well. His plots are well thought out and interesting. The scenic descriptions are vivid, the lifestyle portrayals engaging. Rebel Voice likes his work. That’s why it’s great to see how it all began in Open Season.
As the plot thickens, we are lead into a place that all parents dread, and all good people abhor. Friendships are tested and questioned. Joe’s abilities get thoroughly stretched. In this, we get to see a strong glimmer of the man Joe becomes in later books, when he is joined by Nate Romanski (who is not in Open Season).
Open Season is a decent book and recommended for anyone looking to get into a lively and well written series. For those of you who have already read some of Box’s novels, Open Season is still a very good read. It shouldn’t offend or put you to sleep. It should make you want to read more by this author.
Sult scale rating: 7.5 out of 10. Recommended, especially if you like to read whilst wearing cowboy boots and a stetson.