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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trophy Hunt. C.J.Box. Berkley Prime Crime. (2004)

Superb crime story with a vivid cast and a beautiful setting in rural Wyoming. The Town of Saddlestring in Wyoming is having a minor boom thanes to the development of Coal Bed Methane drilling. It is also undergoing a rash of animal mutilations that are being attributed to a wandering grizzly bear. Joe Pickett, the local game warden is not convinced and when two men are found mutilated in a similar fashion finds himself plunged into a gripping and very tightly wound plot. The reveals are brilliantly staged, the action is thoughtful as well as sharp and brutal, the conclusion is superbly set up and utterly satisfying.
This story is a masterful example of plot mechanics, the action is cunningly set up, the plot developments are neatly dovetailed. The plot never feels like it is driving the cast, the action arises from the cast in a very natural and unforced way. The motives are credible and the swirls of animosity and friendship that tie the cast together are strongly drawn. One of the major strengths of the book is the large cast, this gives C.J.Box a chance to expand the action and strong context for the cast. Joe Pickett and his wife Maybeth are at the heart of the book, their relationship is full of hard work and movement that makes it real. The beautiful Wyoming countryside is a star cast member, the descriptions are vivid and memorable, the attractions of the area are strongly felt. There is a very nice and very well handled supernatural element in the book, it hovers at the fringes and adds a slight and welcome aspect of the unexplained to the story. The knot at the heart of the action is brutal, bitter and intense, the villains are credibly baleful. As part of a series, continuity is cleverly referenced without ever being required. A page turning, gripping pleasure.

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