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Winterkill (A Joe Pickett Novel) Hardcover – May 12, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 429 customer reviews
Book 3 of 16 in the Joe Pickett Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett returns in this third adventure in C.J. Box's tough, tender, and engrossing series, which just keeps getting better. When a forest service supervisor is murdered right after a manic shooting spree that slaughtered a herd of elk, a mysterious stranger who trains falcons and carries an unusual weapon is arrested for the slaying. Then a special investigative team headed by a devious, vindictive woman arrives in Saddlestring, bent on a bloody confrontation with a group of government-hating survivalists camped out on federal land. Among then is Jeannie Keeley, who abandoned her daughter April three years earlier. Since then, April has become like a daughter to Joe and his wife Marybeth, and a sister to their own children. Now April is right in the middle of what promises to be the last stand for the ragged band of refugees from the firestorms of Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the Montana Freemen, and only Nate the falconer, who owes Joe his life for finding the real killer of the supervisor and freeing him from jail, may be able to save her before the Bighorn Mountains are covered in blood. A tense, taut thriller marked by lyrical renderings of the harsh, beautiful landscape, Winterkill's subtext, as in Box's previous novels, is the conflict between individual rights and freedoms and governmental power that continues to smolder in the towns and valleys of the American west. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett runs into trouble again in Box's third fast-paced novel (after Open Season and Savage Run), which focuses on the conflict between parental custody and foster care, as well as the growth of "independent nation" cults. As usual, Pickett, though fallible, is the voice of reason and honesty amid a cacophony of greed and evil. During a horrendous blizzard, he finds the body of Lamar Gardiner, "the District Supervisor for the Twelve Sleep National Forest," pinned by arrows to a tree, near seven illegally shot elk. Sheriff "Bud" Barnum suspects a band of misfits, the Sovereign Citizens, which is camping in the forest, among them Jeannie Keeley, the birth mother of the Picketts' foster daughter, April. Pickett suspects locals killed the combative Gardiner. Soon, the little town of Saddlestring is swarming with press, as well as U.S. Forest Service bureaucrats, including the psychotic Melinda Strickland, and two vicious FBI agents. When Pickett learns of a plan to raid the encampment, he resolves to warn the Sovereigns, especially since Jeannie has April there. Box's description of the harsh yet splendid Wyoming landscape is vivid and memorable, his handling of complex social issues evenhanded and unsentimental. But most of his characters tend to be either two-dimensional villains or saints, and in each book the life of a member of Pickett's family is threatened. Box needs to develop more believable characters to realize his potential as an outstanding new talent.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Joe Pickett Novel (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st edition (May 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399150455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399150456
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David W. Nicholas on August 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third book in the Joe Pickett series, and unconventional is the rule in each of the books. The author manages to make a character with a wife and kids into something of an action hero, complete with gun, pickup truck, and dog, and a series of enemies that attempt everything from annoyance to murder to thwart him.

In the current book, Pickett has a murder on his hands. In this case the murder is complicated by the fact that the victim was a local Federal wildlife officer who just went nuts and killed a whole flock of elk. Pickett arrested him, but he escaped, only to be brutally and strangely killed.

Complicating things are two factors. First, the local authorities have been preempted by a Federal investigator who has taken charge of everything. She's convinced that there's a conspiracy of right-wing nutcases, survivalists who want to kill Federal agents, and of course she's going to hunt them down, damn the consequences. One of her principle suspects is a local mountain man type who has almost no interaction with the rest of society, and raises falcons at his house. That guy turns out to be more than everyone bargained for.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and would recommend it to anyone who likes the wilderness or detective stories. One proviso: the author isn't a conservative politically (one of his previous books involves the Endangered Species list) but this book deals with the Federal government and bureaucrats rather harshly. Just a warning.
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Format: Hardcover
I have loved each of the Joe Pickett novels to date, and with Winterkill C.J. Box opens with a bang and then floors it. Joe Pickett and his family are taken to the limit in frightening and completely believable ways, and this novel shows how scary it can be to be up against a force of practically pure evil, even if she's wearing a green Forest Service skirt. It is easy to miss the humanity and beauty of the novel because of the tension and pace, but I know it's there if I want to go back. In his third outing, Joe seems angrier, and more determined than ever before. This time, he gets some help from a charismatic loner named Nate Romanowski whom, I hope, we'll see again. This is one the best new series in crime fiction, and the suspense is unbearable -- as is the sad, if realistic, sense of inevitability at the end. Powerful. I eagerly await the next Joe Pickett novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I too found the government officals a little to "evil". But, I realize giving a small person a little power can, and often does, create a monster. As happens in this story.

So, having said that the author again has drawn his main characters so well, they can become part of your life, and become "friends" that visits once a year.
So, if you haven't yet discovered C.J. Box you are in for a treat. If you have here's another outstanding story for you to enjoy.
P.S. For those who find Nate Romanowski and interesting character rumor has it that he will appear in later Pickett novels and may be the center piece of his own.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe you think you've lived your whole life without knowing what life might be like in a place called Saddlestring, Wyoming and that's okay with you. Saddlestring is in the Twelve Sleep Valley --- for which Twelve Sleep County is named --- and even in the dead of winter, it's a place that people like Jackson Hole tourists never get to see.
Well, guess what? If that's what you thought, then you were mistaken and C.J. Box can prove it to you in one night. He can probably do it with any of his books, but so far I've read only his latest, WINTERKILL. Certainly I'll soon be looking for the previous two, OPEN SEASON and SAVAGE RUN, in paperback.
Joe Pickett is a game warden. He works alone in a remote, mountainous, heavily wooded area of Wyoming. His job is 1/3 public contact, 1/3 field collection and 1/3 law enforcement. The government provides his house, which includes a small office and his long-bed pickup truck. The tools of his trade are a few rifles and a field telescope mounted on the side of the truck. Oh, and a handgun he'd rather not have to use because he's a poor shot with it. And Maxine --- but Maxine is a yellow Labrador retriever, the family pet when she's not riding around in the truck with Joe.
It is four days before Christmas, the first big winter storm is coming, and Joe has been watching a herd of elk move down the mountain to graze. In Joe's territory, hunting is legal --- it's even encouraged within the law --- and there are many people who depend on the meat from elk and deer to make it through the winter. Most hunters respect the animals and each other, but on this day, something goes horribly wrong. Elk are slaughtered, and so is a man. And the storm moves relentlessly in.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A couple of friends recommend C.J. Box's Joe Picket series. This was right before Lent began. So what? Well, I give up book shopping for Lent.
So I hurriedly bought the first 3 books in the series. I have already read all of them and now have to wait until after Easter to get the rest. This book was very enjoyable. I hated having to put it down. Like the first two books, "Winterkill" has a lot of action and an ending you are not expecting. I must admit that I have learned more about hunting than I ever wanted to know. I have been reminded of how wolves behave in the wild but that is, afterall, how God made them. And I have learned that there are honest men in this world worth knowing. It is nice to find a man who enjys his family and making pancakes. I recommend this book, this series highly. .
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