Englischsprachige Literatur

Box C. J.

Open Season

Berkley/Penguin, New York 2002


While touring the Rocky Mountains I came across this debut crime novel, which USA Today calls a “classic tale of Wild West justice”, its hero Joe Pickett “Gary Cooper style”. What more can a tourist want?

And C. J. Box, totally unknown in Europe yet, is an author in his own right. He knows what he is writing about first hand, as he has worked as a ranch hand and fishing guide. Now he promotes tourism as head of Rocky Mountains International Corporation and he has written 10 Joe Pickett novels so far, doing his bit to promote tourism.

Joe Pickett is a young game warden in Wyoming, Box´s home state. Joe lives with his pregnant wife Marybeth, their 7-year-old daughter Sheridan and little Lucy in a small home near Saddlestring. He takes his job very seriously and has, to his lasting shame, arrested the governor for illegal shooting right at the beginning of his career, and has let another poacher take away his gun from him at a similar confrontation. So he is not the shining hero, at all, when he discovers three corpses at a remote hunting camp. When he comes home his daughter tells him, she has seen a monster in the back yard the night before.

It turns out, that the murders were connected with the discovery of Miller´s weasels, a species thought to be extinct and now in the way of a planned pipeline through the area. The extinct weasels have found refuge in Pickett´s back yard, secretly kept and fed by Sheridan, who is in danger exactly because of that.

Picket finds out that his revered mentor and another trusted colleague are part of the scheme and it all culminates in a very bloody showdown.

Box writes intriguingly old-fashioned, wanting to save the old ways of life in the Wild West; on the other hand he sees conservationists with a more than critical eye. His story ends with the rest of the weasel population being killed off by a disease the dogs carry which the environmentalists from the east coast have brought with them.