enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: C.J. Box, Savage Run

I read this book about 14-Jan-2023. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2002. This note was last modified Friday, 20-Jan-2023 16:59:42 PST.

This is book 2 of the "Joe Pickett" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Starting with the second book due to library hold times; probably wouldn't live long enough to actually read the series in order.

Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. In this book, and it sounds like in previous situations, he has come into conflict with the Sheriff in his county when he gets involved in investigating murders. They're not his business, but the Sheriff seems to be both incompetent and corrupt, and Joe is not very patient.

This opening line is probably competitive in "best opening lines":

On the third day of their honeymoon, infamous environmental activist Stewie Woods and his new bride, Annabel Bellotti, were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up.

The cow did have help.

Turns out there's a two-man team going around murdering effective environmental activists, in ways so that they become jokes instead of martyrs. They're paid by the Cattleman's Association, which is mostly run by rich absentee ranchers rather than by real ranchers these days.

So, the various murders are done in interesting ways!

Probably the two best characters in the book are Stewie, and the Old Man from the assassin team (who loses faith and passes information to the targets). After that would come Joe's wife. Then maybe it's a tie between Joe and his oldest daughter, and she gets very little face time.

Luckily, Stewie isn't actually killed by the cow, they just think he was (BIG bomb, he was blown out of his boots and they think his body was just disintegrated; in fact he eventually gets off the branch he's pierced by up in the tree, where he actually bleeds onto Joe when Joe is first at the crime scene, and manages to crawl off and get help. He later joins forces with Joe to try to catch the murder team. He's killed by the second exploding cow, which he arranges himself.

Joe is the somewhat slow-thinking and very taciturn outdoorsman type. Turns out being inside his head, at least in this telling, doesn't make him any more interesting, either. It seems an unfortunate choice for the lead character in a series.

Still, there's considerable interest and promise here, and I'll read more of the series. The landscape is something of a character, and despite a number of things that look like firearms errors (but all mysteries are rife with firearms errors!). (Joe chooses to carry his revolver with the hammer down over an empty cylinder. This was necessary with actual cowboy-era revolvers, but not with anything modern, the modern ones have various kinds of safeties preventing the hammer from sending the firing pin into the primer unless the trigger is pulled. And even 6 shots isn't really enough for his job. It'd be okay as a character quirk maybe, but in the book it reads as being the right thing to do, and it isn't.)


[dd-b] [dd-b's books] [book log] [RSS] [sf] [mystery] [childhood] [nonfiction]
[dd-b] [site status] [pit]

David Dyer-Bennet