Review: C.J. Box spins gripping tale in 'Vicious Circle'

Correspondent

‘Vicious Circle’ by C.J. Box. Putnam, 384 pages, $27

Family means everything to Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, who would be lost without his wife and three daughters. And pity the person who tries to harm his family.

Joe’s devotion to his family is integral to the fast-moving plot of Box’s 17th novel in this superior series. “Vicious Circle” looks at the cycle of revenge, violence and hate that Joe has tried to keep from his family, but which may be embraced by another family.

About 18 months ago, Joe was instrumental in getting rodeo star Dallas Cates sent to prison. A confrontation with the Cates family resulted in death and left Dallas’ mother, Brenda, a quadriplegic. Now released, Dallas seems bent on destroying Joe and his family, including middle daughter April, whom he once dated. Dallas, along with two psychopaths he met in prison, also are suspects in the death of a local hunter, Dave Farkus, who tried to warn Joe that Dallas was hunting him.

Box’s outstanding series, known for its expert plotting and character development, reaches a new high with “Vicious Circle.” A man raised in a violent home as was Dallas knows only violence, and Dallas’ hatred of Joe and his family festered while in prison, completing a cycle of sorts. At the same time, Joe wonders about the evidence that sent Dallas to prison. Suspense runs high in “Vicious Circle” as Joe and his family come under siege.

In each Joe Picket novel, Box weaves in issues that balance environmental concerns with the needs of people. “Vicious Circle” also has Joe investigating a ring of crafty poachers, a subplot that is smoothly wrapped up.

“Vicious Circle” again proves why Box, who has won several awards, including the Edgar, is one of the best storytellers currently on the market.

Meet the author

C.J. Box will discuss “Vicious Circle” at 5 p.m. March 26 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790.

Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

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