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Free Fire: A Joe Pickett Novel Mass Market Paperback – May 6, 2008
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Joe Pickett’s been hired to investigate one of the most cold-blooded mass killings in Wyoming history. Attorney Clay McCann admitted to slaughtering four campers in a back-country corner of Yellowstone National Park—a “free-fire” zone with no residents or jurisdiction. In this remote fifty-square-mile stretch a man can literally get away with murder. Now McCann’s a free man, and Pickett’s about to discover his motive—one buried in Yellowstone’s rugged terrain, and as dangerous as the man who wants to keep it hidden.
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About the Author
- Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons; 0 edition (May 6, 2008)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0425221245
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425221242
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 6.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.17 x 0.89 x 6.72 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #183,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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In this novel Pickett is on a special assignment for the governor of Wyoming. He is investigating the murder of four people in Yellowstone National Park. Turns out that due to the unusual location of the murders and a loophole made possible by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, no one can be tried for these murders, even though a particularly contemptible person admits guilt. Pickett's job is to find out if there is any way to nail the guilty person.
The book includes excellent descriptions of some of Yellowstone's features. A big part of the plot involves microbes found in the park's water. It may be possible to use these microbes to process coal very efficiently with billions of profits at stake. Enter the picture greedy, ruthless people.
There is outstanding character development. I just could not put the book down, and I did not use crazy glue.
In the Joe Pickett books, there are no good guys other than Pickett, his family and friend Nate. Oh, there is the occasional breakthrough like the female park ranger character in "Free Fire" but, on the whole, most every other character in the series is ruthless, ambitious, violent or incompetent. Everyone seems to have an agenda from the unrealistic and dogmatic environmentalist to the unethical and money-grubbing businessman. Nobody escapes C.J. Box's skewering in these books.
"Free Fire" is a fine example of how frustrating life is for Joe Pickett and how he has to deal with the corruption all around him in his pursuit of justice. In "Free Fire", Pickett is engaged by the new governor to investigate a murder in Yellowstone National Park. Pickett gets his old job back as Wyoming game warden but he is conducting his investigation on the sly--the governor has plausible deniability and offers little in the way of support for the assignment he has given Pickett. The fly in the ointment of the murder itself is that there is no legal way to try the murderer because it took place in the "Zone of Death" within Yellowstone--an area of the country where no one resides to act as peers for a jury in a criminal trial. To further complicate matters, the park officials would just as soon forget the whole incident to avoid further bad publicity that might blemish their careers.
Pickett's insecurity and self doubt gets on your nerves after a while. You just want to slap him and tell him to stop beating himself up over every incident in his life and get on with it. But we all have self doubt at times and can identify with Pickett's dilemmas and stress. You also get frustrated when Pickett runs into the power structures that offer no support. In the end, the story does reach resolution but only to the extent that the bad guys face some forms of justice. In the end, Pickett still has to deal with the corruption and deceit of government officials. Makes for a good series of books.
I've been reading the whole Joe Pickett series in order and it keeps getting better. The books aren't always perfect (I've found a few editing mistakes and errors of fact along the way) but they are enjoyable. And frustrating.
Top reviews from other countries
Joe Pickett is a former, perhaps even disgraced game warden, working on his father-in-law's ranch, when he receive's a call out of the blue from the governor of Wyoming. He is offered the chance of redemption, and to put back on the badge he took so much pride in. He accepts his 'secret mission' and heads to Yellowstone Park, to investigate a horrendous murder of five people. But he doesn't need to fine the murderer. They already know who he is, and had to set him free. The murders took place in the National park's 'Zone of Death', where park and state boundaries mean there is no law. His gut instinct tells him he's going to need backup, and he recruits a former special-forces agent and friend to follow him up. As he uncovers corruption, missing persons, and finds his life and those of his family threatened, he finds out he was right. Learning that Yellowstone's time is running out, so is his own, to discover the real motives for the killings, and whether or not he can bring the people behind them to justice.
This was an impressive, fast-paced thriller with well-rounded characters and an interesting plot. It reads very similar to the Jack Reacher novels, another aspect which attracted me. At times. I found the main character a little too 'Marlborough man' for my liking, and his friend Nate can at best be described as morally ambiguous, but overall, they suit the story and the setting. Another gripe would be that female characters seem to only show up to wag their finger, look like idiotic hippies, get put in danger, or to try and marry rich guys...but again, it isn't out of keeping with the story.
Pretty much every chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, encouraging you to read further and keep going. I certainly would be interested in picking the series up at Book 1 and going on more adventures with Joe Pickett.
Joe Picket starts the book as a ranch foreman having lost his game warden job. This is a massive blow to his self esteem and he is delighted to be reinstated by the Govenor of the state. He is then brought to Yellowstone park (which after the description I am tempted to visit) where he investigates a series of multiple murders where the murderer escaped through a loophole in the law. The storyline is excellent as unlike many books we start off knowing who the killer was but the hunt to bring him to justice is a difficult one. C J Box weaves a fantastic story bringing in many features of the local wildlife and surrounds. These books are defintely something new and different from the norm.
The book is fantastic and the minute I finished I was off to find the next one in the series to see what happens our intrepid hero next.
Setting aside that, and I have marked it down in my editing for Kindle (Harsh but what can one do), what about the story.Well, you may recall that by the end of, 'In Plain Site' Joe has been sacked from his job as Game Warden and in Free Fire we find him working as Ranch Foreman on his Father-in-laws ranch while Marybeth's accounting business is expanding.
Out of the blue the new Governor turns up in Saddlestring and offers Joe his job back but with strings attached.
A multiple murder has taken place in Yellowstone Park and it looks as if, for the first time ever, anywhere in the world, 'It is the perfect murder'. They know who did it, he even handed himself in immediately after killing 4 people, but they had to let him go!
Yellowstone Park might be in the state, in fact it is in three US states, and therefore comes under Federal law because of its status as a National Park. The Governor thinks the Federal authorities are not doing enough and tells Joe that he wants him to visit the park and find out what the hell's going on, even although he will have no jurisdiction.
After discussing it with Marybeth Joe takes the job, knew he would, and is reinstated as a Game Warden with no loss of service. Director Pope who we don't miss from the story still manages to stick the knife in, by making sure Joe doe's not get his original badge number back which would show him as a senior Warden, instead sending him Badge no 54, reserved for rookies!
Joe sets off for Yellowstone in a brand new truck, you just know what's gonna happen to that, just as Joe can't hit a barn door if he was standing in front of it with his gun, you just know what's gonna happen to that truck (oh, it's deliciously funny) followed by Nate Romanowski as back up.
Soon he is in the thick of it, more murders are committed, and just to mix things up we learn of events from Joe's past, about his brother, how he died and where he is buried. His parents break up and why Joe has hated his father and always avoids discussing him and ghosts from that past become real in Yellowstone all lead to complications in the investigation.
A thrilling climax to the book ends with the FBI and an old adversary from that organisation double crossing Joe and Nate but this after Joe in his usual stumbling way, solves the crime.
This really was /is as good as the previous six books and Mr Box just keeps getting better and better. The Perfect Murder scenario was a master stroke in finding it and building a story around it and it worked well, I wonder if that little loophole has now been closed in reality (hope so, wont be in a hurry to visit that corner of Yellowstone Park until I know it has been!)?
Book 1 - Open Season '
Book 2 - Savage Run '
Book 3 - Winterkill '
Book 4 - Trophy Hunt '
Book 5 - Out of Range '
Book 6 - In Plain Sight '
Book 7 - Free Fire '
Book 8 - Blood Trail
Book 9 - Below Zero
Book 10 - Nowhere to Run
Book 11 - Cold Wind
Book 12 - Force of Nature
Editing for Kindle /iPad: 4 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 380
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
You can purchase Free Fire At Amazon UK here or at Amazon US here
CJ Box can be found here