"Breaking Point" by C.J. Box; Putnam ($26.95)
C.J. Box melds hot-button ecology issues and thrilling plots while balancing the story between environmental and human issues.
Box's high standards have never been more evident than in the 13th novel in his series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. "Breaking Point" skillfully shows how government can enhance lives and preserve the environment while also portraying the legal system run amok. But "Breaking Point" is no treatise pitting an individual vs. the big bad Goliath of government. The tense plot of "Breaking Point" provides edge-of-the-seat suspense filled with unpredictable twists and realistic characters worth caring about set against the vivid wide open spaces of Wyoming.
Many people are near breaking point, as Joe learns when he becomes personally and professionally involved in the problems of neighbor Butch Robertson. The hard-working owner of a construction company, Butch is the prime suspect in the murder of two armed EPA agents who had come to stop him from building on his land.
Butch planned to build a retirement home for himself and his wife on land for which they scrimped and saved for years, but suddenly found themselves in a legal quagmire from which there seemed to be no solution.
A vindictive EPA director, a former sheriff with a grudge and a former soldier are now after Butch, who has fled to the mountains. Joe agrees to lead a posse, hoping if he finds Butch first he can stop more violence.
Based on a true incident, "Breaking Point" is infused with the frontier spirit of an old-fashioned Western as the good guys try to track down the bad guys — only in "Breaking Point" the sole person without another agenda is Joe. While out-of-control bureaucracy fuels the plot, "Breaking Point" carefully shows how rampant abuse of power can erupt anywhere.
Box's contemporary spin on the Western makes "Breaking Point" an explosive thriller that careens from one unpredictable twist to another.