C. J. Box

Shots Fired

"C.J Box can always be relied upon to provide exciting, character-based books..."


A volume of short stories makes a welcome break from full-length crime novels. In this collection, C.J. (Charles James) Box gives us ten carefully-crafted tales, four of them featuring his Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett, who features in his full-length novels. They range from historical yarns such as 'The End of Jim and Ezra', set in what was Wyoming Territory in 1835, to a cautionary tale set in modern-day Disneyland Paris, where a Lakota native American – the 'Sauvage Noble' of its title – confronts sophisticated but real savagery. Along the way we also meet a wealthy Saudi who wants to buy falcons, revenge on the river, and a car beneath the ice of a frozen reservoir.

Joe firstly finds himself facing the wrong end of a lever-action carbine, wielded by a seriously deranged man, then faces a young woman pointing a cocked Colt .45 at him as her hand tightens on the trigger.

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C.J Box can always be relied upon to provide exciting, character-based books that pitch inherent good against inherent badness, and this is no exception. The tales are told in a straightforward, lean prose that is more difficult to write than one would imagine. No word is wasted, and Box's love of Wyoming shines through in every one of these words. In fact, the Wyoming landscape is one of the main 'characters' in many of the tales. The plotting is immaculate, and each tale is enhanced by the fact that it presents us with a moral dilemma – and in the four Pickett tales, presents Joe – a man with a fine sense of what is right and what is wrong - with a moral dilemma as well. The last tale, whose title is the title of the book, is especially satisfying. Readers sometimes wonder why a writer wrote a particular story or book, and Box supplies a fascinating introduction that tells us what inspired each tale. The most unusual one, which you think must have come from an over-active imagination, turns out to have been the result of an amazing photograph Box saw – and the photograph is reproduced in the book. This is a sterling collection of short stories.

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