Narrator: David Chandler
Series: Joe Pickett #1
Published by Recorded Books on February 11, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Length: 7 hours, 50 minutes
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Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden--especially one like Joe who won't take bribes or look the other way--is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police.
His young daughter finds secret pets, and contributes to the dialog. As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the weasel gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, jobs to locals, including Joe, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
Americans flocked to National Parks in record numbers during 2021. I used literary escapism to visit the wide expanse of the Rocky Mountain West. Anyone else unable to make the journey in person might do the same, courtesy of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series. Open Season is the first in the mystery/thriller series, where we meet Wyoming Game Warden, Joe Pickett.
Joe Pickett is the best of men; honorable, hardworking, dedicated to his family. He’s kind of a Dudley-Do-Right, which is why I think I love him so much. It is obvious he loves his job, but it is also clear he is struggling to make ends meet and provide for his wife and children. When death hits close to home (actually, in his backyard) Joe find himself smack in the middle of an intrigue involving outlaw hunters, corporate representatives, and cute, fuzzy creatures. One would think a choice between right and wrong would be easy, but things are not always black and white, and Joe discovers that sometimes you have to bend the rules in order to protect those you love.
Open Season is appealing in its down-home simplicity. The world isn’t complex and the story doesn’t require a lot of background to engage the reader. The prose is easy going, folksy almost, until the suspense ratchets up and things get “Western.” I loved the sly humor, subtle political commentary, and anecdotes about the population of rural Wyoming. The story unfolded in two primary parts – the mystery and the thriller. The mystery was well thought-out and not very obvious. By the time I was sure what was actually going on, the thriller part kept me on the edge of my seat. I’ve learned from his other series that C.J. Box isn’t afraid to kill off his characters; therefore, I was anxious for the outcome and the author did a good job of keeping me guessing all the way to the last chapter.
Although this is technically a review for Open Season, I feel I need to add how much I’ve enjoyed every one of the 21 books in the series I’ve read to date. I am still waiting for my library hold to come up for number 22. A word of caution to any vegetarians or animal lovers who might be triggered by the copious descriptions of hunting and game dressing; I mean, Joe’s a Game Warden after all.
David Chandler might as well change his name to Joe Pickett. I don’t imagine there could be a better narrator to capture this characters personality. He does a great job with the entire cast of characters. The pacing and diction were perfect and made listening very easy at 1.25x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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