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lip lit: C.J.Box, Cold Wind

Cold Wind by C.J.Box is the kind of novel that grips you within the first few pages and refuses to let you go. Set in Wyoming, the novel is built around a mystery. Earl Alden, a millionaire property developer is murdered, his wife Missy arrested by the sheriff and the town divided by the conflict. The person who is the most affected of all however, is Joe Pickett – Missy’s son-in-law. Joe is a game warden who not only detests Missy but also seeks to know the truth regardless of what it may reveal. He ultimately finds himself torn between the desire to stand by his family and prove Missy innocent, or to follow what he knows best – the law. The theme of ‘what is right’ runs heavily throughout the book, not only in this instance, but also in relationships between colleagues, family and co-conspirators.

By drawing on current political issues in society (predominantly wind energy), Box adds another element to what could otherwise be considered quite a generic thriller in terms of plot sequencing. As lead character Joe Pickett traverses the roads of Twelve Sleep County and beyond, he discovers that wind energy is less efficient than coal and becomes instantly intrigued as to why wind farms are popping up all over the countryside when there is supposedly so little profit to be made. Supporting characters provide alternative viewpoints along the way and soon Joe is left questioning everything that he sees around him. What is right, what is true and who pulled the trigger on August 21 are the questions that will burn through your mind, alongside Joe’s, from the first page through to the last.

While the main storyline surrounds Joe, Missy and the murder, there is a parallel plot line, which is altogether more sinister. Fans of the Joe Pickett series (this is the eleventh book) will recognise Nate Romonowski as the lone mountain dweller with an unexplained violent past. While the story involving Nate is a little patchy at times, it provides a much-needed punch of adrenaline into the story.

Featuring blood, explosions and fake identities, it links to the main story through a variety of connections but the strongest is through Nate’s former friendship with Joe Pickett. In Cold Wind, relations are strained as a result of tensions in a previous novel about – you guessed it – what was right. It is a joy to follow Box intertwining their tales until they each become essential to the other if they want to discover the truth. While on the surface the novel looks to be a cold-hearted story about wind farms, money and men, it actually delves much deeper and challenges family dynamics, friendship and loyalty.

The novel is fast-paced, executed with flawless precision and filled with characters so intimately relatable that their actions will stun you. Layers of motive and character cloud your vision and will propel you towards the surprising finish. Fans will be happy to know that there is definitely room for a twelfth novel and it looks to feature Nate most of all. For those considering the novel who haven’t been following the series – don’t despair – it is written in such a way that doesn’t demand back reading.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and perfect for a weekend treat.

Allen & Unwin



One thought on “lip lit: C.J.Box, Cold Wind

  1. Pingback: Reviewing the case files 17/02/2012 | Crime City After Dark

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