Off the Grid by C.J. Box, (Joe Pickett, #16), Kindle edition, Head of Zeus, March 2016, 500p.
3 out of 5 stars.
I am a huge Joe Pickett fan – I binge read the series over the last couple of years, and most of the books are excellent, fun filled romps through Wyoming. I now pre-order the books on kindle and usually read them in a single sitting or two the week they are released. As this is book 16 in a very long series, I know a lot of people new to this universe pick up a later book to read as a standalone, but I really recommend if you like the idea of this series (and it is amazing) to give it the time it deserves and read from book 1, Open Season.
This felt like the weakest offering in this series in awhile. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and the characters are still entertaining and the settings are wonderful, but there’s a few things that doesn’t sit well with me. First off, this plot, while enjoyable and action packed, doesn’t really fit in with Joe Pickett being a game warden. I understand that he’s now the governor’s attack dog, but it just feels wrong. I want to read about Joe being a game warden and the weird and wonderful people that he comes across and the landscape. This plot would have been better if it was in a standalone – or even if it was predominantly a Nate spin-off. My preference would have been a standalone with a sheriff, police officer or local vet taking on these issues.
This book also felt like a Nate Romanowski book that had cameos from Joe Pickett and his family. Sure, more words were given to Joe, but most of the character development came from Nate. I’m a fan of the battle hardened Nate, but I admit that I prefer the stories in which the focus is on the Pickett family and Saddlestring.
The setting itself needs mention, because it made me feel at home. It was set in a desert area, and the description of red dirt and no features for as far as the eye can see made me think of Australia and what the outback is like, and although that’s familiar, I love the Joe Pickett novels for their description of a landscape that is utterly alien to me.
I am really interested to see where the next book goes because the last page of Off the Grid had a teaser that really made me start salivating for the next book. Despite everything I wrote about some of the flaws in Off the Grid, I am still enjoying this series and will certainly still be pre-ordering the next one.
If you are a Pickett fan, I’d advise still reading Off the Grid, because it does further the lives of the characters in this universe. If you’re new to Saddlestring, Wyoming – I’d start at the beginning of the series with Open Season or one of the best books (at least, according to me) with Below Zero, Cold Wind, Breaking Point or Stone Cold.