Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: OFF THE GRID, by C.J. Box

C.J. Box
OFF THE GRID: A Joe Pickett Novel
G.P. Putnam Sons, 2016
384 pages
Thriller / Suspense

So, it turns out C.J. Box has an entire Joe Pickett series. Some fourteen or fifteen Joe Pickett novels. And I, fortunately, just discovered him--or them--or him, the author--Pickett the character. I will admit, I am super excited. Thing is, OFF THE GRID is the latest. Now I must go back and read the other books in the series. (This I shall do gladly!)

Anywho. OFF THE GRID is a brisk thriller. This can be called a Nate Romanowski Novel as much, or as equally, as it can be called a Joe Pickett novel. Seems I missed a lot not having read the earlier books in the series, but I did not feel lost as a reader jumping in at the end. (Good thing!).

By court order, and law, and signed agreements and such, Joe and Nate are not allowed contact with each other. In fact, Nate is wanted by the law. Crimes committed, laws broken. Living off the grid, Nate and his girlfriend, Olivia Brannan are in hiding in Wyoming. They're making a living at not getting found. That is, until they are found.

When the Wolverines come calling, this super secret team of government employees across all branches of the government, Nate has no choice but to hear them out. They need his help. Because of his unique talents as a falconer he may be the only one who can infiltrate a terrorist cell somewhere in the Red Desert. In return, Nate is promised his record will be wiped clean. Erased.

However, if he fails, if he is caught, if anything goes wrong--the Wolverines will deny any involvement, and Nate will go to prison for previous criminal activity, and pay for whatever new charges tacked on.

Joe Pickett, a game warden, is called upon by the governor (once again, apparently) to help on a special assignment. He knows he can use the tracking of a rogue bear as a cover. The task will lead the game warden down a road similar to Nate's. The threat of terrorism is all around.

As if never separated, Joe and Nate work together, without knowing the other is even involved, gathering up evidence, and information with the hopes of shutting down, preventing, an act of terror before the terrorist act can be committed!

Box writes terse, taut scenes. His characters are well drafted, and authentic. He pulled me right into the story (which I didn't think would be easy because I knew I was on the latest book in the series, and not the first -- which is the kind of thing that bothers me as a reader). It didn't matter. OFF THE GRID worked as an independent tale, a stand alone novel. It isn't. But it worked as one. Loved the dialogue, and the action. And as I stated up top -- I will be reading the other books in the series!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of The Severed Empire Saga,
and the Vaccination Trilogy

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