Force of Nature: Buy It!

C. J. Box is the author of the Joe Pickett books, as well as several stand-alone novels. Joe Pickett is a Wyoming game warden who encounters a remarkable amount of crime in what is generally thought of as a peaceful environment. The Pickett books are extremely popular, and Box’s latest, Force Of Nature, debuted at number three on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.

The Pickett novels are fun, and you can learn a lot from them–about the West, wild animals, firearms, and much more. They often incorporate issues of the day, like environmentalists vs. developers, wind power, and so on. Force Of Nature is a little different in that it focuses on Joe’s friend Nate Romanowski. We finally learn why Nate has been on the run, more or less, for years. And, as you would expect, falconry features prominently. Osama bin Laden makes a cameo appearance. What’s not to like?

So I recommend that you buy Force Of Nature and read it. Alternatively, you could start at the beginning of the Joe Pickett series; or you could try Box’s latest stand-alone novel, his last before Force Of Nature, Back of Beyond.

Finally, since full disclosure seems mandatory these days on sites like ours, I have a special reason for liking Force Of Nature. C. J.–Chuck, to his friends–likes to write friends and allies into his books, just for fun. Thus, a couple of Pickett novels ago, a character made a court appearance in front of Judge Hewitt, and public defender Duane Patterson participated in the scene. Most readers no doubt glided right over those names, but they made me laugh. So before we went on vacation last week, I downloaded Force Of Nature. I was reading it, toward the end of the book, in our room at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco, when Nate Romanowski went to buy a used car to drive into the mountains. I nearly fell off the couch when Nate went to Hinderaker’s used car lot and engaged in a dialogue with a guy named Hinderaker about buying a vehicle.

I’ve always thought that the ultimate thrill would be doing a crossword puzzle and finding yourself as one of the answers, but being written into a best-selling work of fiction as a minor character comes pretty close. I assume Box didn’t mean to imply anything negative by making me a used car dealer…

Anyway, buy the book. It is lots of fun, and C. J. Box is a solid citizen.

UPDATE: Chuck Box writes:

As it turns out, we did our interview just as I was writing that portion of the book and when I needed a name … viola! (I’m in the airport in Paris ready to fly back to finish the rest of the book tour, hence the French, I guess).

I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many readers — including Hugh and Duane, of course — recognize your name and comment on it.

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