The recipient of Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity Awards, New York Times best-selling author C. J. Box has won almost every honor in his field. In Breaking Point, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is glad to catch up with old friend Lyle Pendergast, but then the man goes missing and is named a suspect in the death of two EPA employees. All signs point to Lyle’s guilt, but the more Joe digs into the case, the more he realizes he’s stepped into the middle of a deadly power play.
©2013 C.J. Box (P)2013 Recorded Books
I just can't get enough of C J Box's writing! I've often said that a good book for me, is one with a great story line, or one with great writing, Box's books are always the best of both! Each successive Joe Picket, Wyoming Fish and Game Warden, novel just gets better and better. Characterization, descriptions, conflicts between good and evil, and the pull between legal justice and moral justice are enhanced by stories that connect to headlines of the day. Box mixes each mystery, with a continuing family story, and a fictional accounting of non-fiction reality.
When one of Joe's friends is accused of murder, Joe becomes involved in ways that he'd never imagined. Lyle, and his wife, have finally gotten a piece of land on which to build their own home. Permits in hand, Lyle begins grading the land when EPA employees come and demand that he return the land to exactly as he's found it previously. The fine for not doing so will be $70,000 a day. And why is this happening? Lyle is told it's because his land has been declaimed 'protected wetlands'. With no water at all on his land, he questions this declaration. But no one at the EPA has any paperwork , nor are they answering his repeated phone calls. So this story begins, and ends in disaster when two EPA agents are murdered, and an all out man hunt is begun by the EPA to "kill the murderer."
This case is based on a real case in North Dakota, that bends credulity. There are other actions , also based on "truth" that just may blow your mind. Joe is caught up in the manhunt, as determined by the Governor, but the more and more that things progress, Joe begins to realize that there is something more that just doesn't make sense. An edge of your seat story keeps the suspense until the very last page!! I think I love you C J Box!!!! Never stop telling stories in books!!
Starting back in the mid 1980's, I was one of the few lawyers who was trying to defend rural landowners like the Roberson's, the endangered protagonists of "Breaking Point". When I say "trying", that's what I mean: As author Box suggests, these federal agents operate outside the Congressionally-enacted law, with unpublished rules and regulations, to the point that it's almost impossible to clear your clients in these cases. Besides, if you try to fight back, they just throw in more charges -- again, as Box suggests. The best you can do is to try to work out some plan that will let your client keep some portion of his land -- although by the time they get done defending themselves, most abandon the farm. Everything they valued has been destroyed. It got so bad that by the mid-1990's, I had to quit. I decided that if I had another sobbing farm wife sitting in my office, listening while I had to explain that there really wasn't much that could be done other than to work out a "deal", I'd go crazy myself. Like my clients, I too walked away. It just hurt too much.
A few things in "Breaking Point" are fiction: I never had a client kill, or even try to kill, a federal agent -- but I did have two who killed themselves. The trauma of having your farm -- in your family for over 100 years -- plowed, planted and harvested every year -- suddenly declared a "wetland" and therefore off limits, subject to horrendous penalties if "disturbed", is just too devastating. Can planted acres be a "wetland"? Indeed. Under federal law, a "wetland" is determined by soil type -- it has nothing to do with its being "wet". No self-respecting duck would ever look at this land, let alone land there. All that's required to constitute a "wetland" is a particular soil type -- merely that the land WOULD SUPPORT hydrophytic vegetation IF IT WERE wet, is enough. Kafkaesque, certainly, but entirely true.
There's more in this book than just the trauma faced by the Roberson family -- the range fire at the end, the tense escape, is one of the best white-knuckle scenes in history. Box is so good that you can picture the whole thing, feel the heat.
As far as I know, C. J. Box is only one of two popular authors who dares to make federal agents the 'bad guys' in some of his books -- P. T. Deutermann being the other. And why not? It's not just pharmaceutical company owners, businessmen, religious leaders and Republicans who do bad things, as virtually every other contemporary author would have you believe. Sometimes there are rogue federal agents, too.
Suzanne, avid reader and listener who loves a broad range of genres but, ecpecially authors,T.C. Boyle, Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, Larry McMurty, Bryce Courteran, Lisa Gardner, Brian Haig, Richard North Patterson, Nelson Demille, Robert Tannenbaum, Sara Gruen, Kate Norton, Steig Larsen, Tana French and Gillian Flynn!! Still many more and the number of authors I enjoy continues to grow.
I have become a little weary of C J Box's constant vilification of government agencies. I am always willing and interested in hearing another point of view but, I don't need to be beat over the head with the same theme again and again! Joe Picket, the last man and only man willing to take a stand.
I have enjoyed several books by C J Box, but, have likely reached my own breaking point. .
His writing style is perfectly adequate but, the story lines are too repetitive. Is Joe fired or does he resign from his job in every book?
Also, I read several books in their proper sequence and yet, some facts were missing and not consistent. The most troubling discrepancies concern April.
I had to go forward several books to find out what happened to April, and in this book there is no reference to her ( should be ) very recent past.
The same can be said of his wife's mother, who reverts to being a garden variety mother in law, even after her character has murdered her latest husband ( who is alive again in this book ) and plotted against Joe. I am paying attention here and the characters and story lines are not tracking.
In this book, Joe's character, had no meaningful involvement and with his wife and children: they are dealt with in a just a peripheral way. They serve only as threads to connect the " real story " of Joe, against the world.
In my opinion, Box is at his best when, Joe Picket he is dealing with both external and internal challenges. This is the third book of his, which, hasn't quite done it for me.
So, I must say, so long, Joe, thanks for the good times and best of luck in all your future endeavors!
There runs in this book an undercurrent of anti-government sentiment. If you are neutral or conservative leaning, you will probably enjoy this book. But if you are a tree-hugging liberal, you will likely hate it. I found it to be a good listen that held my attention at all times. I feel there are too many reviewers handing out 4 and 5 star ratings, so a good listen gets three stars in my reviews. It doesn't meet the fantastic four star rating, but its good.
I have loved almost every book in this series, so I am really irritated and disappointment in this one. It is at heart just a cliched, conservative, anti-Federal Employee screed. He portrays them all as quasi-Nazis (I'm just doing my job, and don't care what that is or who it hurts) or contemptible morons, and he displays serious ignorance in his characterization of their work to pay ratio, job-security, etc. Normally Box writes 3-dimensional characters, but in Breaking Point not so much.
C.J. Box has yet to write a bad book, and the Joe Picket series continues on as a solid literary effort. C.J. has a great way of working current rural issues into his stories, as a person who lives in the rural west I appreciate that perspective. The stories and persona of Joe Picket make one feel as if they are a friend of the family, and if you have been reading the series from the beginning (highly recommended) you have seen the kids grow up and have been with the family through some tough times and some great times, and it builds a chemistry between reader and character that few authors are able to create. Joe is still the hard working game warden of twelve sleep county, still the unshakable straight arrow and still able to walk through fire to do the right thing. There are some real events in this issue that will change things for the next in the series, many of the previous players were back in form with their roles fresh and anew. There is a lot of excitement, a well thought out surprise ending and a good cameo or two from previous favorite characters.
As with the rest of the series, highly recommended.
Joe Pickett is a nice man in a corrupt, politicized system. Joe struggles to hold onto his moral values and his family. Nice details, good character development. Narrator keeps it interesting while capturing Joe's mellow style.
I have enjoyed C.J. Box over the years, and this is an excellent example of the storytelling. The character is flawed but entirely moral. Some of his decisions get him embroiled in trouble, but he is so real. His relationships with coworkers, wife, daughter, and friends, move the plot along and keep the reader engrossed. His frustrations with those in power and their inability to act logically are mirrored in all our lives.
He adds the Western locale and the politics of the lone man that I don't usually agree with or think about, but in this context the politics are powerful and moving. It's man against nature, and it's about men trying to do right when all around them men are following rules that don't make sense and abusing power without thought for how their actions affect others or worse, abusing power with deliberate malice.
I haven't read the print version.
floating down the Middle Fork
the mule deer buck leaping into the rive
I always enjoy CJ Box's books. He and I are both from Wyoming; he knows the state and the environmental issues we face. He does a great job setting a mystery in this land of "forever west".
Trade publications and "professional" reviewers say this is the best book in the series. I'm not sure because there absolutely are no bad installments in the Joe Pickett story. This is the kind of book I try to listen to as slowly as possible, but it never works. In spite of the negative light Box paints the EPA and the federal government in general, the politics are never heavy handled or preachy. I'll listen to this again.
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