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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author C. J. Box—an Anthony and Macavity Award winner—earned starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist for this exceptional mystery. Taking advantage of a legal loophole, a lawyer kills four people in Yellowstone National Park and walks away a free man. As the public outcry intensifies, the governor hires former game warden Joe Pickett to conduct a private investigation.

©2007 C. J. Box (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best Joe Pickett books

All of the Joe Pickett books are great, but this one is exceptional. Wyoming Game Warden Joe is on temporary assignment to Yellowstone Park, where he comes face to face with part of his traumatic childhood which has not been revealed before. He is also traveling with his bad-ass mirror image, Nate Romanowski, who shows him some of his black ops secrets of Yellowstone. You'll never look at a visitor's center or national park hotel the same way.

Another skillful plot by Box, which ties up good-guy local rangers, corrupt bureaucrats, bad/good feds, a very weird legal loophole making murder legal in a corner of the park, and bio-mining skullduggery. Box has an amazing way of capturing the potential for good and evil at all levels of government & the private sector.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • mesa, AZ, USA
  • 07-14-10

A very fun read!

Free Fire is the best of the three Joe Pickett novels I've "read" so far. The plot is complex, yet not convoluted. The characters act believably. Most of all, it's a fun read.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another great CJ Box book

What made the experience of listening to Free Fire the most enjoyable?

This entire review contains SPOILERS:

David Chandler's narration was outstanding. Because Chandler has done all the CJ Box books I've listened to, he IS Joe Pickett, et al, to me.

The story was wrapped around a bizarre legal point about venue and the requirement for local juries–there are no courts, so no venue, and since no one lives in that part of the park, so a local jury could not be found. The book made the complicated legal mess pretty simple and worked the story into the framework of the laws, or lack thereof.

The guy who believed the Yellowstone "volcano" (actually, the Yellowstone Caldera, there are six other super-volcanos hiding under caldera in the world) wasn't crazy, everything he mentioned is supported scientifically. The caldera erupts about every 600,000 years and we are overdue for an eruption.I live about 4 hours away from Yellowstone and will be one of the first to get wiped out by the eruption; most of us here think that's better than having to live with the aftermath of the eruption.

The discussion of the thermophiles and the fact they are legally mined in the park was a good center point for the plot to hinge on. It really made you hate the bad guys without revealing who they were until the end.

Overall a great book, with a great narrator. A good book to add to any CJ Box enthusiast's collection. This, and Savage Run, are Box's best books.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Free Fire?

Any of Box's books where Nate Romanoski plays a significant part are among his best. SPOILER: When Nate showed up in the 'Free Fire Zone' and shot the guy with his .454 Casull to save Joe. As an paramedic, I can tell you that the guy probably wouldn't have survived. Each .454 slug is about as big as your little finger. It would have torn the guy apart, but the 'never kill' anyone unnecessarily (Nate's definition of 'unnecessarily.') meant the guy got to live.

Nate's moral relativism is one of the things that makes the books. He sets himself up as judge, jury and high executioner. But, somehow, you have a hard time disagreeing with him. I guess there is some vigilante in all of us.

What does David Chandler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Voice characterizations. When I "read" a "real" book, I never thought about putting voices to any of the characters. Chandler is very good at it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the director of the park snuck up behind the female law enforcement ranger and shot her. That came at me out of nowhere.

Any additional comments?

The Park Service guy who had ___________ (no spoiler) engraved on the back of his fake eye was pretty gross.

Buy the book, even if you're not a Joe Pickett/CJ Box fan you'll love it!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Worth a Read, But Not His Best

I am a real fan of C J Box, but this story was a bit far-fetched, compared to his normal plots. The whole conspiracy thing, the corrupt lawyer, the rivalry within and between agencies, the exploited legal loophole, the undercurrent between Joe and the female officer, was somehow a bit off the mark. Those who regularly read Box will enjoy it, but I wouldn't recommend this for a first-time Box reader. So many of his are better.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome mystery set in nature

STORY (Detective) - This is probably one of my top 10-20 favorite books, and I've listened to 366 as of this writing. The imagery, the characters, the plot -- OMG, the plot! I just can't say enough about this book. The setting is Yellowstone Park, sometime in the era of phone booths and before cell phones. You will hear descriptions and interesting facts about park wildlife, Old Faithful, etc., that will make you want to go to Yellowstone. I learned for the first time about the ultra-powerful Steamboat Geyser, which coincidentally erupted for the first time in four years as I was listening to this book. Such a refreshing change from listening to books set in a big city.

Joe Pickett, the main character, is a game warden. He always manages to get in the middle of trouble, and in this case he investigates the murder of four park visitors who are killed in the "zone of death," an area in the park that doesn't fall into any legal jurisdiction for the murderer to be prosecuted, thus he was set free. There is lots going on in this book, and it is wonderful from the beginning to the end.

PERFORMANCE - Great job. Chandler is the perfect voice for Joe Pickett, and he puts forth a lot of extra effort towards distinguishing between the different characters.

OVERALL - I would recommend this for almost anyone except younger children who wouldn't appreciate the complexities of the story. There are a couple very brief mentions of lovemaking between Joe and his wife, and there are a few utterances of the F word by certain characters. There is killing, but it's not overly violent IMHO. This series is probably best listened to in order so that you can follow the character development, however I have listened to it piecemeal and each book stands alone. Hear. This. Book. You won't regret it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Experience Yellowstone in a new way!

Having visited Yellowstone National Park a few times over the years, and most recently just two years ago, the park's landmarks were firmly in mind as I listened to Joe Picket navigate the roads and buildings. This is a classic example of the author making the setting a character in itself, and doing it well. Great plot and storytelling.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • G. Minott
  • Cardiff by the Sea, CA United States
  • 08-07-14

Yellowstone will never look the same to you

I loved all the Joe Pickett novels, and this is a favorite; The description of the inner structure of the lodge is great; however, this story isn't for the even moderately squeamish. You'll never look at a hot springs quite the same way again, and the exit roads from Yellowstone can be lonely and dark....

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Action packed story. Too much strong/vulgar language.

This is a very good story in the Joe Pickett series however once again I am disappointed at the level of vulgar language used. I don't care for the "f" word or the "GD" used. Would have been just as good or better without.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Where is Nate's voice?

What did you love best about Free Fire?

I loved that Joe got to try something new

What three words best describe David Chandler’s voice?

I really like David Chandler and that he has been reading for all of the Joe Pickett stories...my only complaint is that he changed his voice for Nate! He voice in the previous books was much more recognizable and I liked the consistency in the past.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great early Pickett family characters

I had listened to this book a long time ago. It was great to go back and get some perspective on the earlier lives of some of the characters. Same dark humor throughout, and an interesting story. I disliked how the non-ending ending kept me hanging, more so than customary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful