Featured Review: ‘Long Range’ by C.J. Box

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Long RangeC.J. Box delivers another up-all-night thriller with Long Range, the 20th book in his #1 New York Times bestselling series. 

The setup is simple, everything else is not. 

Following the events of last year’s Wolf Pack, which saw a number of long-running, fan-favorite characters meet their demise, someone has taken a long-range shot at Judge Hewitt, but accidentally hit his wife, Sue, instead. The bullet, which traveled a great distance through the warm Wyoming air before crashing through the Hewitts’ living room window, entered Sue’s chest cavity, damaging vital organs and leaving her clinging to life. Now, as his wife lies dying in the hospital, the judge wants answers. Fast.

Using connections to the governor of Wyoming, Hewitt has pulled strings to have all law enforcement employees in Saddlestring focused on one job—finding whoever pulled the trigger. That list includes the newly elected sheriff, along with his deputies and everyone from the county prosecutor to, of course, game warden Joe Pickett. 

Joe, who has known Hewitt for years, wants nothing more than to find whoever shot the man’s wife, but when each law enforcement officer is instructed to make a list of potential suspects, he quickly realizes that they might as well put together a list of people who don’t want to see the judge killed since Hewitt has made no shortage of enemies by putting away scumbags over the last twenty years. Scribbling down names, Joe revisits some of the series’ best antagonists, from Dallas Cates to the Mad Archer, searching both high and low to find the shooter. 

Meanwhile, as the search for the sniper takes shape, former outlaw turned respectable citizen (well, for the most part) Nate Romanowski is adjusting to fatherhood following the birth of his first child with Liv Brennan. Together, they attempt to put past events behind them, where they belong, until one literally comes rumbling down their driveway. As it turns out, the Sinaloan drug cartel has a hit out on Nate, who killed several of their members last time around after they shot up City Hall, wounding and murdering several people in the process. Worse yet, the two storylines merge when Nate is framed for shooting Sue Hewitt, putting Joe Pickett in another tough spot as things begin to spiral out of control. 

With Nate in jail, a cartel hitman lurking in the shadows, and the real shooter still on the run, Joe takes it upon himself to figure things out before it’s too late. But the deeper he’s pulled into the dangers around him, the more he realizes that things are once again about to get real western in Twelve Sleep County . . . 

Box, who is lights-out here, leaves no stones unturned as he treats readers to some of his finest work to date. So much has changed since his first book, Open Season (2001), introduced the world to the Pickett family, and yet, so much feels the same. The girls—Sheridan, Lucy, and April—are all grown up now, but adjusting to life as “empty nesters” is the least of Joe and Marrybeth’s problems. In many ways, Joe’s list of potential suspects reads like a trip down memory lane, one longtime readers will no doubt enjoy, but it also highlights just how hard life has been on Joe and his family, especially the last few years. Now, more than ever, he wants to protect them, and you can’t help but cheer him on as he shoulders the load. 

In the same way that following the Pickett family feels like reconnecting with old friends, Box remains one of the few writers who’s able to bring his setting—in this case, the beautiful Wyoming landscape—to life in such a way that even those who’ve never been there feel like they know the plains, valleys, mountains, and small towns intimately. Of course, all of those strengths are secondary to Box’s masterful ability to spin a nail-biting whodunit, and if you’re not already reading his series, you need to. 

If there was any doubt before, Long Range proves once and for all that when it comes to crime fiction, C.J. Box owns the whole damn genre . . . and it’s not even close.

Book Details

Author: C.J. Box 
Series: Joe Pickett #20
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525538232
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Book Spy Rating: 10/10

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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