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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.
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that's what I mean: As author Box suggests, these federal agents operate outside the Congressionally-enacted law, with unpublished rules and regulations, to the point that it's almost impossible to clear your clients in these cases.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.
24 of 24 people found this review helpful
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!!
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
With friend/fugitive Nate sidelined for nearly the entire story, Joe had to grin and bear it through this interesting tale of corruption in an US Government Agency, murder, and persecution setting the scene for a manhunt that includes even Joe's archenemy, the ex-sherriff.
Joe is pushed to his seemingly bottomless limit of patience, but preservers against tremendous, some might say 'overdone', odds to emerge unemployed but victorious. Box writes cluttered novels that stretch plausibility, but entertain very well.
I often feel like I am running out of quality authors in the mystery genre, but Box has made the cut as I near the end of this series quite satisfied.
note: Publisher's Note is full of discrepancies and errors. Don't they proof-read their own stuff? Seriously embarrassing!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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!
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
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.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I like the plot. However, once again Joe is the lone ranger -- only minor peripheral help from Mary Beth and an absent Nate. Joe has to fight the evil EPA and FBI alone. Characters become Caricatures when they are the lone "good guy" and show no vulnerability. In this installment Pickett is the only one who can negotiate a raging river and a canyon that nobody else survives. He is the only one who can get through a raging forest fire. He is the only one who can figure out why a rogue agent goes after a local family. He is the only one who can guide the DA to a conviction. Just Joe. All alone. Joe against the world and Joe wins again. It is boring and Joe is no longer believable or interesting.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Another good Joe Pickett adventure. We have read all the books in this series and felt like this one quit a chapter or two too early, with many loose ends for the next book to resolve. Anyone reading this book would certainly be left wondering what happened to key players. This book ends like a "soap opera". However, the reader was excellent! and I will be waiting for the continuing saga.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from C. J. Box and/or David Chandler?
No. What a missed opportunity!<br/><br/>If only this book sought to reveal a situation in which a family breaks under the pressure of bureaucracy, it would illuminate the potential for abuse in our system. Instead, it attempts to generalize, portraying federal Government employees as rich, ruthless opportunists as a rule. Instead of making a profound point, the story is just plain silly. The EPA is roundly depicted as EEEEVVVVILLLL...their mustaches twirling so fast they could create a windstorm (for which they would penalize hard-working honest Americans). <br/><br/>This book might have made a worthy political point. Instead it grinds its axe to t sawdust and its' commentary to parody. It's caricatures are so heightened it occasionally felt more like a Jon Stewart riff than like the critique it's attempting to be. <br/><br/> I love buying books on the basis of customer reviews. It's fun to dive in on the basis of fans. Only occasionally does this lead to a ratings skew from true believers. I believe all avid readers have experienced this, regardless of their leanings. It's difficult to distinguish story from polemic based on the book description. <br/><br/>Each time, it's a bummer. Isn't there a way to declare this sub genre for what it is instead of allowing consumers to believe it represents the genre it claims to be? <br/><br/>
What could C. J. Box have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
What three words best describe David Chandler’s performance?
The women lisp.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
I liked it at first. I love characters who are set in their ways, who have beef with one thing or another... that makes for great storytelling. When it's about the character. Not so, here. <br/><br/>Here, the protagonist is a game warden who bridges several (potentially terrifically interesting) gaps: public service and law enforcement,a state employee who is suspicious of government institutions.<br/><br/> What a tremendous premise! If only the character were to embody those leanings as a function of character and it hadn't become clear that the author was the one with a bias... character be damned. Ultimately, story recedes to mere rant. <br/><br/>
Any additional comments?
Well...take this as an endorsement or a caution, depending:<br/><br/>The antagonist is an EPA agent enraged at not having his solar panels approved by his home owner's association (I'm not kidding)takes his vengeance by destroying the lives of hard-working Americans who are just trying to do the right thing. Government (vs state) employees are depicted as being unilaterally wealthy, vengeful, shiftless and cruel. Vigilante behavior (though understandable in the context of the story, which is the point) is depicted as a brave commitment to principle. <br/><br/>Did I mention the villain is also a white guy named John Owen Pate who, upon his mother's remarriage, took advantage of her new husband's "more exotic" surname and changed his name to Juan Julio Batista - to "take advantage of policies to promote people of color."<br/><br/>Yep. The fact that this is represented as commentary on those policies and not on the jerk taking false advantage of them...is absurdly clear. <br/><br/>Ick. Not a narrative, a rant. The author lost control of his emotion and thereby his story.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Once again joe and company puts their lives on the line run like wild animals just to survive. Deception, lies, corruption at top levels of government once again creates an original exciting story with many new twists and turns.
This story is more of a page turn than. The prior 3 or 4
1 of 1 people found this review helpful