Author: C.J. Box
Publisher: Putnum, 2009
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Public Library
My Rating: B
When we were picking books to read this year one of the members in my book club suggested we read something by C.J. Box. She’d read almost all of his books because her nephew is a good friend of the author. We agreed to read Below Zero.
Although no one else in our club of 13 had heard of C.J. Box, the library had a lot of his books. We chose Below Zero because this book had the most copies. Below Zero is the ninth book in the Joe Pickett series but our recommending member assured us the books could stand alone. And they do.
Joe Pickett is a special game warden for the state of Wyoming. He’s passionate about protecting the wildlife and the environment. He’s well-respected and someone the governor calls on for special tasks.
Joe is also a solid family man. He and his wife MaryBeth have two daughters, Sheridan, 16, and Lucy, 12. They also had a foster daughter, April, who was killed six years ago in Waco-style arrest. Or so everyone thought. Sheridan has been receiving text messages from April and she knows personal things only April would know. At the same time there is a minor crime spree going on that Joe believes may be connected with the person claiming to be April.
Although Joe Pickett doesn’t know the identity of the “bad guys,” the reader does. We meet the father-son duo in Chicago and follow their escapade through the Badlands into Wyoming, Colorado, and back to Wyoming. There’s a young girl with them who could or could not be April. I didn’t know for sure until the end. The father is an old-fashioned mobster type and the son is just crazy. This crime ridden road trip is supposedly about killing people whose carbon foot print is too high. The son has the father killing these people so their carbon footprint is “below zero.”
We had a good book club discussion about the book. There were, however, only three of us who liked the book. Everyone else thought it was a “man’s book.” It was too violent for their taste and they didn’t like the car chase section with Joe and his daughter Sheridan. They thought it was too irresponsible of a father to bring along a young girl. Most members said they would recommend the book to their husbands.
I kept my mouth closed on those comments but my mind was saying, Really? In this day do you really want to say that women shouldn’t read certain types of books? I thought the idea that dolls are only for girls and cars are only for boys went away a long time ago. I guess not. Women have made so many strides that I’m disappointed in this attitude. I just hate the idea that a woman shouldn’t like books about action, intrigue, backwoods adventure. or a little violence. I’m sure the term is meant simply as a label – much like certain books are called “women’s fiction.” But I don’t like those labels either. Does it mean there is something wrong with a man or woman who reads the opposite label? Does it steer a whole group of readers away from some good books?
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to cross over and embrace all sorts of books. The Joe Pickett series is fun and adventurous. I intend to go back to the first book and start reading them all.
About the Author: C.J. Box
Charles James Box, Jr. is a New York Times bestselling American author of fifteen novels. A native of Wyoming, Box lives outside of Cheyenne with his wife Laurie and daughters Molly, Becky and Roxanne. He’s a winner of an Edgar Award for Best Novel.<