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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I forgot how much I enjoyed this series...
I read C. J. Box when he put out his first Joe Pickett novel in 2001. I thought it was a great debut and picked up the next few as they came out. Well, then I kind of missed a few. I just finished the brand new book ( #11) in this series - Cold Wind - and I'm kicking myself. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this character. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. But...
Published on March 23, 2011 by Luanne Ollivier

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but not Box's best
I have been a C.J. Box fan for years. In particular, I have always enjoyed the Joe Pickett novels, particularly the way Box interweaves Wyoming political issues into his storytelling.

The political issue tackled in "Cold Wind" is wind energy. Wind farm development is a controversial subject in the Cowboy State, carrying with it disputes over landowners'...
Published on April 30, 2011 by W. Owens


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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but not Box's best, April 30, 2011
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I have been a C.J. Box fan for years. In particular, I have always enjoyed the Joe Pickett novels, particularly the way Box interweaves Wyoming political issues into his storytelling.

The political issue tackled in "Cold Wind" is wind energy. Wind farm development is a controversial subject in the Cowboy State, carrying with it disputes over landowners' rights, the desirability (or lack thereof) of seeing clusters of 40 or 50, 250-foot-tall turbines towering over the wide open spaces, and who is being enriched at whose expense. It's pretty clear where Box's sentiments lie, and as a Wyomingite I would have to say it's fair to say many Wyomingites agree with him.

The setup is thus: game warden Joe Pickett is out one morning on a routine patrol near the ranch owned by his hated mother-in-law, Missy Alden, and her latest husband, when he sees something dangling from a wind turbine on the Aldens' land. As he investigates, he discovers to his horror that it is the body of Earl Alden, his father-in-law. Making matters worse, Missy is promptly arrested for Earl's murder, and Joe finds himself in the uncomfortable position of trying to prove her innocence. In the course of Joe's investigation, he discovers a number of people who would like to see Earl Alden dead - who could the real murderer be?

The main plot was for the most part enjoyable to read. Joe, as usual, finds himself bucking the system while at the same time trying to remain true to his values. Box does his usual fine job of maintaining suspense. There were some things I found annoying, however, mostly with Box's handling of Wyoming criminal procedure. For example, Box has a lay Justice of the Peace (and feed store owner) preside over Missy's initial appearance and her preliminary hearing. Wyoming, however, did away completely with JP courts about 10 years ago; Missy's initial and prelim would more appropriately have been in front of a Circuit Court judge who is a licensed attorney. Verisimilitude would have taken away Box's ability to weave the local feed store aspect into the story, but would have rung more true. Also, the case would have been styled "State of Wyoming v. Alden," not "Twelve Sleep County v. Alden.". These technical annoyances detracted from the overall quality of the book for me.

There is a subplot involving an assassination attempt on Joe's shadowy friend, Nate Romanowski. I found this subplot rather clunky; it did not seem to fit well at all with the main plot. It did add excitement to the story, and the epilogue does set the scene for a future installment; it just seemed more appropriate for a stand-alone novel.

Overall, I had the sense that Box was trying too hard to put out a story that addressed wind power while it is still a hot topic and simultaneously come up with something fast-moving involving Nate. Although a fun read, "Cold Wind" ultimately falls short. All in all, a pleasant weekend diversion, but not up to the caliber of Box's usual work.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I forgot how much I enjoyed this series..., March 23, 2011
I read C. J. Box when he put out his first Joe Pickett novel in 2001. I thought it was a great debut and picked up the next few as they came out. Well, then I kind of missed a few. I just finished the brand new book ( #11) in this series - Cold Wind - and I'm kicking myself. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this character. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. But Joe does a lot more than check hunting licenses and monitor wildlife.

Joe is out patrolling the high ridges - home to the newest kind of farming in wind swept Wyoming - wind farms. He notices that one turbine seems to be turning slower than than the others - the dead body tied to it could be the reason. The body turns out to be Earl, the fifth husband of Joe's mother-in-law Missy. Missy and Joe have never gotten along, but when Missy is charged with murder, both she and Joe's wife Marybeth ask him to look into things on his own. It looks like the local sheriff has already tried and convicted Missy.

Box has taken a very current and very hot topic and woven a great mystery around the whole issue of wind farms. (There's lots of debate in my part of the world about them right now)

Joe Pickett is a wonderfully likable character who tries to do the right thing by everyone, every time. Think white hat. The supporting characters are just as well drawn - the sheriff and his cronies are eminently unlikeable. As is Joe's cold, calculating mother-in-law. Joe's personal life has evolved throughout the novels as well - I wonder how much of the trials of raising three daughters mirrors Box's own life with three daughters. Joe and Marybeth's relationship seems very real as well. The secondary storyline involving Joe's friend Nate Romanowski totally grabbed me. Nate is a master falconer and fugitive. He has gone off the grid and underground in the hills of Wyoming. There are those that want him dead. More Nate please! (Fans of Joe Pike and Jack Reacher would like this character)

Box writes what he knows. His descriptions of the land, the politics, social issues and the people of Wyoming all ring true. The plotting is tight, the story flows seamlessly and the ending was great.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Character wearing out, April 20, 2011
By 
Fred Camfield (Vicksburg, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I did not like this novel as well as the previous novels in the series. Partly the author seemed to be on a personal soap box (opinions on wind generated energy) and partly he seemed to be groping for a direction to go. The plot is really two plots, one about Joe Pickett and one about Nate, and the author seems to use the novel to permanently eliminate some supporting characters. I am not sure if he is closing out the series, or if he is thinking of making a major shift in direction. The novel seems to fade into covert ops, and the strong plot about Nate seeems to indicate a shift in that direction.

Other than that, Joe Pickett is coming across as an officious individual who does not know when to turn a blind eye. Various characters in the novel come across with serious character/personality flaws. It would be hard to be sympathetic if some of the characters were killed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Characters in search of common sense, March 22, 2011
By 
Cold Wind gets off to a promising start as Joe Pickett discovers the body of his mother-in-law's most recent husband chained to the spinning blade of a wind-powered turbine. The plot begins to deteriorate when his mother-in-law, Missy, is arrested for the crime, the murder weapon having been found in the back of her car. The prosecutor, although allegedly a bright woman, believes she has a strong case because one of Missy's ex-husbands claims that she tried to hire him to kill her current husband. It apparently never occurs to the prosecutor to wonder (1) how she is going to prove that an elderly woman managed to climb a turbine tower and chain a dead body to a spinning blade, (2) how she will convince the jury that Missy would even want to display his body that way, or (3) why a jury would view the unsubstantiated story told by an embittered ex-husband as credible. The prosecutor seems to be counting on the jury to convict Missy because they resent her wealth and arrogance, but that attitude is inconsistent with what Pickett tells us about her professionalism. At least that inconsistency suggests that she's complex, unlike the other characters in Cold Wind, who tend to be purely good or purely evil, lacking the subtle mix of positive and negative traits that make a character believable.

A second storyline is just silly. Joe's buddy Nate Romanowski is living in a cave, hiding from five former members of a "rogue branch" of Special Forces who now work for Homeland Security. An attempt is made on his life, not by the rogues, but by a woman who hires two nitwits to shoot at his cave with a rocket launcher. How the woman acquired the weapon never seems to concern the nitwits and apparently it isn't supposed to concern the reader either, since the explanation eventually provided is laughable. That storyline turns into a fairly pedestrian tale of vigilante justice.

Few of the characters in Cold Wind have enough brain cells to rub together to produce a spark of intelligence. Only Missy's lawyer, Marcus Hand (clearly modeled after Gerry Spence, right down to the description of his hair and attire and the location and nature of his law practice) has any personality, but he is oddly ignorant of criminal procedure (making no protest, for instance, when a Justice of the Peace bases an adverse decision largely on the fact that Missy shops out-of-state instead of buying goods from the JP's feed store). Just as ignorant is the prosecutor, who repeatedly claims it would be "inappropriate" for her to listen to Pickett, a law enforcement officer who has information that might cast doubt on Missy's guilt, when in fact it is her ethical duty to do so. Box's fanciful description of legal proceedings (there are more howlers than those I've described) makes it impossible to take the novel seriously.

On the positive side, the story proceeds at a brisk pace, slowed only by occasional lectures on wind-generated energy that are meant to educate Pickett. Box's writing style is competent: not stirring but not awful. Pickett stumbles upon a crime that, while not terribly relevant to the plot, is inventive (I don't think it would work in the real world, but at least it's interesting). The ending contains a twist that saves it from being as anti-climactic as it initially appeared to be, although the twist was a bit predictable. Overall, Box did enough things right to keep me reading to the end, but not enough to make me encourage others to buy the novel. I would give it 2 1/2 stars if Amazon made that option available.

A final warning: Some of the characters engage in a fair amount of pontificating about the evils of government support for wind energy. I don't care one way or another about opinions expressed by fictional characters (I don't pick up a thriller expecting to find an accurate, balanced view of energy policy) but some readers prefer their thrillers to remain free of one-sided political rants. Those readers might want to avoid this novel.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Almost, March 19, 2012
By 
This is the first CJ Box book I have read. To me it was a decent mystery novel with two exceptions. The first involves where the murder victim's body is found. I stopped reading at this point because it seemed ridiculous. It became even more ridiculous, even impossible, after the killer explained how it was done. Also, there were a number of facts about wind turbines that the author got wrong.

The second issue involves a possible reason for the murder. The murder victim is attempting a very complicated fraud involving a wind farm that he is building. The author uses this as an opportunity to sermonize about renewable energy, the state of capitalism and/or government subsidies. It is a confusing side track that takes away from the plot rather than adding to it.

I did think that the two protagonists, Joe and Nate, where interesting characters. Maybe I will try another one of the author's novels to see if they are better than this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My first by this author and something of a disappointment: huge suspension of disbelief needed, June 18, 2012
By 
M. C. Crammer (Lawrenceville, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Box was able to hold my attention but this really wasn't a very good book. The plot was just plain unbelievable. I couldn't believe for a minute that you'd get to trial so quickly because the judge wants to go hunting. Or that returning vets bring grenade launchers (in their luggage?). Then there's a dance mom from Chicago who is quickly able to locate a man with a high level of skills in concealing himself.

And I won't even get going on the rants about wind energy -- Box does a hatchet job on wind energy. Does he not understand that all that fossil fuel that he claims was more than sufficient will in fact run out? Someone needs to sit down and explain that although people may disagree about how much fossil fuel is left, everyone pretty much agrees that someday we will run out, which is why we're trying to develop other kinds of fuel/power. Wind turbines noisy and ugly? Does he think drilling for oil and open face coal mining are quiet and ecofriendly? He's quite anti-federal government, and if this is your political stand, you may like it. I felt like I was listening to a right-wing rant.

More disturbing are his characters - mostly male. He seems enamored of this second main character, Nate, who runs around killing people he believes deserve killing - and although this prevents me from liking the guy, it doesn't seem to bother the author, who portrays him as a kind of heroic character. Most of the characters are men, and the woman are either very minor, two-dimensional characters or so evil as to be laughable caricatures. Of course, there's also a male character (the sheriff) who is a laughable caricature of evil. If Joe is Dudley Doright the sheriff is Boris Badenough - so I guess that makes Missy, Natasha. But this is definitely a guy's book: I think Box has a problem with women and doesn't even know it.

But -- the writing style is readable, and the Wyoming setting he describes quite appealing, so that I finished the book. I might give one of his earlier books a try - some reviewers think they're better than this one. All in all, I'd say that this book is OK for airplane reading, but it wouldn't be a book I'd particularly recommend to others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mildly entertaining, IF you can suspend your belief, May 14, 2012
The Joe Pickett western mysteries have been good reads..... until this one. Although the murder mystery starts out promising enough, I could not believe that a) a dingbat housewife from Chicago could easily get hold of a rocket launcher and manage to kill somebody and b) NOWHERE in this country is it legal to hide the principal witness in a murder case away from the defense until the trial. Never mind that even eighth graders in this country know about depositions, discovery, police statements and evidence in trials.
On one hand, the fraud case and misuse of Federal giveaways for non-petroleum based energy schemes is described in great detail. On the unbelievable hand is the premise that a murder trial would proceed on such tenuous ground so the judge could go hunting before his two week permit expires. Come on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flounders between interesting and downright silly, December 4, 2011
There are two plot lines in this book. Apparently finding a millionaire's body chained to the propeller of a giant wind turbine 200 feet in the air wasn't interesting enough for the author. That means there are also two heroes. In the second plot line, a widow plots revenge against the man who killed her husband, a small-time crook in the Chicago rackets. She didn't love him at all, just the comfortable lifestyle he provided. When he died she discovered that all his money was hidden, so suddenly all she had left was the house. With no job and no skills, she sold that to have money to live on. The author would have us believe that this creature of comfort suddenly decides to spend every penny she has left to get revenge for someone she didn't care about... by buying a rocket launcher and hiring a couple of goons to use it. Now I know what you're thinking... a rocket launcher is always my first weapon of choice, too.
The other thing is this author must have a fetish for designer clothing. At every opportunity she describes the complete outfits that everyone is wearing, down to the labels on each hero's boots (I know the one thing I regret is that they never stopped in the middle of a John Wayne picture to tell us what kind of jeans HE was wearing.) It's either that, or this author signed a sweet sponsorship deal with a couple of clothing and shoe manufacturers- lucky us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Again, not one of his best...., March 8, 2012
Following on the heels of the slightly disappointing "Nowhere to Run", the series seems to be floundering a bit. Once a plus in the series, the characterization of Joe's friends, enemies and relatives has stated to bog things down which is why Box may have decided to trim the list down a bit (several continuing characters make what seems to be final appearances here, some permanent), but usually a large supporting cast helps a series character I felt in this book it finally got way too messy. As in most of the Joe Pickett series, the book begins with an exciting sequence, this time of Joe finding the dead body of a local millionaire investor married to his mother-in-law on a wind turbine, then promptly stalls out from there throughout the entire novel (with an admittedly interesting but action-free denouement). Forced into the nightmare situation of having to clear his annoying mother in law Missy for the murder of her latest husband, Joe wastes the entire novel driving all around Wyoming in a yawn fest consisting of pontificating about the uselessness of wind turbines (hey, I agree, but the constant ranting got to be a bit much) and showing up just as someone he's looking for has left the premises. A secondary plot starring his buddy Nate is absolutely ridiculous, complete ludicrous and out of place, and reads like a half-finished novel Box shoved into a Joe Pickett novel (by the end of the book, it's obvious that Nate will be spun off into his own series of high testosterone violent adventures.....reminds me of what author Robert Crais did with Joe Pike in the Elvis Cole detective series).

So many problems here, it was frustrating to read. First, the entire case against Joe's mother in law is insane and takes you completely out of the plot...no DA or sheriff that wasn't six kinds of incompetent would refuse to investigate any other suspects in the murder of a multi millionaire killed under suspicious circumstances who has dozens of enemies (and where their chief witness is the drunken and embittered ex-husband of the main suspect). Second, the book quickly devolves into Joe chasing lead after lead without much interesting action at all...there is absolutely no tension here because the mother in law Missy is a series regular and a hateful, evil old hag who the reader (and Joe himself) would love to see locked up, so getting her off for the crime holds no emotional tension at all....we wouldn't mind seeing the old botch locked up guilty or not, she's been such a troublemaker the entire series, so without sympathy there the reader simply doesn't care what happens to her. Third, the entire Nate subplot is out of place, silly (seriously, the soccer mom wife of someone Nate once killed drops everything to go buy a rocket launcher, drive from Chicago west to the mountains, convince two cowboy retreds to kill someone for her, all because she needs to be "cleansed" of revenge?), and reads like a half-way introduction into a separate series about Nate vs some Super Secret organization called "The Five" (I wish I was making that up), and as the epilogue makes clear is going to be the focus of the next novel in the series. Look, if Box wants to write a Nate novel, do what Crais did with Joe Pike and just WRITE a novel starring Nate and stop hacking up a Joe Pickett novel with unrelated and silly conspiracy driven secret agent action.

The last three novels in this series have not been up to the standards of the best, and the reader is left to wonder if Box's interest in Joe Pickett is running out of steam, if he's switching to Nate as a main character, or if he's just lost his touch. The strong point of this series was always the character and job of Joe Pickett himself, and the great wilderness setting, and this novel really doesn't do either justice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wind power & firepower, May 18, 2012
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This review is from: Cold Wind (A Joe Pickett Novel) (Paperback)
Cold Wind is something of a novel-length mother-in-law joke. Wyoming Game Warden Joe Picket has a selfish, greedy, conniving mother-in-law who marries for money and trades up to a richer husband every few years. Missy, a petite senior femme fatale, manages to look decades younger than her age. She's added comic interest to Joe's family life in several other books. In this novel she takes center stage as the accused murderer of her fifth husband.

Joe wouldn't mind seeing his mother-in-law in jail, but at the anguished request of his wife, he takes on the job of investigating the murder. The cowboy sheriff arrested Missy without looking at any other suspects. Joe discovers that the murdered mogul made lots of enemies in high finance, and the neighbors hated the vast wind farm he was building.

The action in Cold Wind is supplied mostly by Joe's old friend, outlaw falconer Nate Romanowski. We can always count on Nate for dangerous behavior and amazing sharpshooting. Nate has an obsessive interest in firepower and packs the baddest gun going. C.J. Box always does a good job of contrasting the lawless Nate with law-abiding Joe. Their unlikely friendship allows Box to play pro- and anti-government sentiments against each other in a fairly objective way.

But Box does portray wind power as a somewhat foolish enterprise in this book. If you like the idea of wind power, you may find that somewhat off-putting. I ignore the politics in the Joe Pickett novels - and simply enjoy them as thrillers. Cold Wind may not be perfect, but I enjoyed it.
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Cold Wind (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Cold Wind (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C. J. Box (Paperback - March 6, 2012)
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