Putnam, $26.95, 367 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-16075-2
In spite of what the old saw says, and what our mothers and other teachers told us . . . sometimes we just can’t help but prejudge . . . we go right ahead and judge a book by it’s cover, as the old saying goes. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it at one time or another, only to find out at a later date how very wrong we were in our first assessment. This applies to people, places and things, or in my personal case, books.
A few years ago, I was offered a pair of novels about a Wyoming game warden. “They’re pretty good,” the recommender said. “Nah,” I said, “that doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t sound very exciting, to tell you the truth.” At the time I was deep into international espionage: spy versus spy and the like. Now, fifteen best-selling novels later, yours truly finally got around to reading one of the ‘Game Warden’ novels . . . and discovered just how much he’s been missing.
Breaking Point, by C.J. Box is the thirteenth in his Joe Pickett series. It’s a novel that’s bound to raise the hackles of any property owner, but in particular, any owners of property in or around a watershed area, because the novel concerns the property owner versus an overreaching government bureaucrat. The novel begins with two EPA employees being sent from Denver, Colorado to serve an EPA order on a Wyoming property owner, that comes complete with fines and penalties that mount up by the day, because the area has been designated as a wetlands. The owner is a small time builder who’s trying to build his retirement home in an established development, between two existing properties. When the two agents are found shot to death, a massive manhunt for Butch Roberson is set into motion that pits Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett against the father of his own daughter’s best friend. All the signs point to Roberson, who may have reached his breaking point, but as the facts start trickling in, the outrageous unfairness of it all makes Pickett realize that he too, is approaching his breaking point. The revelations, twists and turns keep coming, all the way up to the denouement and stunning conclusion that will leave you squirming in your seat, feeling as if you’ve been gut-punched. This is one helluva story, and one you won’t forget for a long, long time . . . I know I won’t.