April Alive?


It can’t be possible that their foster daughter, April, who died in the botched raid of the soverign cult as described in “Winter Kill”, could be alive.  It’s been six years and the family of Game Warden Joe Pickett, his wife Marybeth, daughters Lucy and Sheridan has moved on though a lot of trouble and turmoil after burying her charred beyond recognition body. Joe saw her in a window of a trailer seconds before it was engulfed in flames and he knows she couldn’t have possibly gotten out alive.


They buried her and tried to move on, but her death and Joe’s guilt over failing to save her has lingered on. Marybeth and the kids eventually moved from the game warden’s house when Joe was replaced as the Game Warden and moved into the town of Saddle String. Joe has worked a lot of stuff as a sort of trouble shooter for the governor of Wyoming. He is living most days far apart from his family in a sort of political exile in extreme southern Wyoming in the Bays District, Known as the “Warden Graveyard” and other colorful terms.


Somebody called their old house looking for Sherry and claiming to be April. The people there gave out Sherry’s cell phone number and soon the texts start arriving. Whoever is sending the texts knows things that only April could possibly know. Whoever is sending the messages is also in grave danger and could be a hostage for a dying Chicago Mobster and his crazed environmentalist son, Robert.  Even if it isn’t April, the text sender needs help and Joe Pickett isn’t going to let the FBI screw up a rescue again.


The latest in the series is another good read though author C. J. Box is once again using the extreme elements of the environmental movement to provide social commentary. As he has done in the last several novels, the work he does a as Game warned and what made the series o good in the beginning, takes a back seat to author lectures on the dangers of environmental extremism through villains that are environmental fanatics. In this case the mobster son, Robert, who is deranged in many ways and not just because of his environmental beliefs, wants his father to offset his “carbon footprint” to the point where Dad never existed. To do so requires money and lots of it and while they seek his fortune hidden on a ranch somewhere in Wyoming, they take the time to permantely remove others along the way that they deem are excessive in terms of consumption and carbon output.


Clearly, the author advocates more of a balanced land use policy that reflects the needs of nature as well as mankind. That is all well and good. But, to consistently portray only the extreme fanatics of the environmental movement in the novels and to constantly preach against them in the guise of story telling, does get a bit old. While the mystery of whether or not April is alive is a good one, some of the surrounding pieces of that mystery have a bit to be desired.


Below Zero: A Joe Pickett Novel

C. J. Box


G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group USA)



ISBN# 978-0-399-15575-8


343 Pages


Material provided by the god folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009

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