Featured Review: ‘Vicious Circle’ By C.J. Box

CJ Box - Vicious Cirlce (Updated Cover Art).jpgOver the course of sixteen prior novels, Joe Pickett, America’s favorite Wyoming game warden, and his family have been in over their heads numerous times–but they’ve never been tested quite like this.  

Dallas Cates, who enjoyed minor fame and a small fortune as a champion bull rider on the rodeo circuit before landing in prison, has come back to his hometown of Saddlestring, Wyoming looking for revenge.

Longtime fans of Box’s best-selling series will remember that it was Cates who April Pickett, Joe’s middle daughter, once ran off with. Later, in Box’s 2015 thriller Endangered, April was found beaten and clinging to life on the side of the road after hitching a ride with Dallas back home.

Joe and his wife, Marybeth, suspected Dallas all along, and they, along with their loyal friend, Nate Romanowski, an outlaw falconer with a special ops background, went toe-to-toe with the entire Cates family. The end result was a bloodbath that ended with Dallas doing more than a year behind bars, thanks in part to some trumped-up charges.

Now Dallas is out, and he’s returned to wage war against Joe and his family.

Catching up with the Picketts is a real treat, as Box has developed the family of characters masterfully over his career. Like watching child television stars growing up on a long-running sitcom, Joe’s daughters have gone from little girls to young women over the course of the series. Lucy is now the only one still living with her parents in their state-owned home on Bighorn Road, leaving the Pickett house much quieter than in past books.

As Joe gears up for hunting season, he initially sets his sights on a poaching ring that’s been running rampant in the Wyoming mountains. But his focus quickly shifts when hunter Dave Farkus, the bumbling town drunk who played sidekick to Joe on more than one adventure, accidentally overhears a conversation about Joe at the Stockman Bar between Cates and his buddies.

Farkus’ warning was enough to put Joe and Marybeth on edge, as they always feared their feud with the Cates family would come full circle. Now it had, and things get Western in a hurry, especially after an axe-wielding meth head slashes their way into the Picketts’ lives. 

Along with Farkus and Romanowski, other series regulars such as Sheriff Reed, a prominent defense attorney named Marcus Hand, and even Missy, Joe’s gold-digging mother-in-law, make appearances. Each character has their own unique side plot, adding to an already blistering, fast-paced story.

One of the scene-stealing plotlines revolves around Romanowski, who, after the events of last year’s novel, finds himself in a unique situation. No longer is he required to live in hiding, but adapting to life back on the grid proves harder than Nate thought. Seeing his transformation is something fans of the series will find both enjoyable and, at times, downright hilarious. 

While the Picketts are no strangers to dangerous situations, they’ve had the good fortune of seeming to always come out on top. Then again, Cates is perhaps Box’s most despised antagonist yet, and the fact that he has nothing to lose makes him even more of a wild card. Readers are in for a few surprises, as Box shows once again that he’s not afraid to be bold and shake things up for his beloved characters. 

One of the genre’s premier authors, C.J. Box stuns once again with another gripping, lightning-quick plot that features multiple jaw-dropping moments and several tense action scenes. The competition doesn’t stand a chance when Box is on top of his game, and Vicious Circle is quite possibly his best work yet. A must-read for all thriller and mystery fans! 

Book Details

Author: C.J. Box
Series: Joe Pickett #17
Pages: 366 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399176616
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 21, 2017 (Order Now!)


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