Friday, 1 March 2019

The Disappeared - C J Box

The blurb claims Box is "The #1 American Crime Writer". Well, he's not that. Better claims can be made for various others. I suspect most would have Ellroy on their list and of those, I would suggest that Don Winslow rides pretty high in their estimation. That said, Box is a prolific and very successful author who pursues a very American line of crime fiction - rural backwoods, nothing too violent, investigated by a local with a deep family background and impeccable morals.

In this case the backwoods are Wyoming, the investigator Joe Pickett, a game warden who has previously worked as the agent of the state governor. Now there is a new, very different governor but he still wants Joe to probe the disappearance of a British woman entrepreneur from a holiday ranch where it just so happens Joe's eldest daughter works. It also happens that the local game warden has vanished, which gives Joe a reason to provide temporary cover.

The Disappeared is my first Box novel and I liked it. I normally prefer my crime fiction several shades darker and bloodier, but Box is a highly skilled writer who does deep research. His flair for the locale sucks you in and it doesn't matter one jot if you haven't read any of the other 17 Pickett novels; Box provides just enough exposition without you even noticing. I especially liked Joe's friend Nate Romanowski, a loose cannon professional falconer. I like any character who can weaponise a trout. The plot is clever, the subplots subtly interwoven. I will definitely be reading more Box.

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