FREE FIRE (Licensed Investigator-Joe Pickett-Wyoming-Cont) – Ex
Box, C.J. – 7th in series
Putnam, 2007, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9780399154270

First Sentence: A half-hour after Clay McCann walked into the backwoods ranger station and turned over his still-warm weapons, after he’d announced to the startled seasonal ranger behind the desk that he’d just slaughtered four campers near Robinson Lake, the nervous ranger said, “Law enforcement will be here any minute. Do you want to call a lawyer?”

Joe Picket has been fired from being a game warden and is chafing at working for his father-in-law. When Wyoming Governor Rulon asks Joe to investigate the murders that took place in Yellowstone’s “free-fire zone,” he may not trust him but can’t refuse the job. A lawyer, Clay McCann, admitted killing four campers but because it was in an area with zero residents, it was impossible to form a jury to hear the case. Joe finds there’s more involved than a revenge murder; something lucrative, deadly and bring Joe into contact with his past.

Box is definitely one of my favorite authors and “Free Fire” ranks among his best. Pickett is wonderful character; he’s a committed husband, but not infallible, a great dad, loyal friend and has a strong moral belief in what he does. He knows his strengths as a good investigator and weakness as a terrible shot. The sense of place is so strong it made me want to visit Wyoming and Yellowstone again. Box’s characters are good but it’s best to start with the first book of the series to really get to know them. His dialogue is natural and I liked that Joe had more to say in this book, with the humor that it was an uncomfortable situation for the character. There was excellent suspense balanced with a bit of education and just the right emotional pathos. I highly recommend this book.

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