Another bit of progress in my effort to catch up with C. J. Box books. This one came out in 2014, so I'm almost there…
It's a collection of Box's short stories; the subtitle, "Stories from Joe Pickett Country" indicates that not all stories contain Box's most well-known hero. Four out of the ten stories do, but who's counting? Well, I suppose I just did.
Anyway, they're all small-to-medium-sized gems. Let's see:
- A story about a tyrannical ranch owner who, when things don't go his way, retaliates against his own employees. Joe implores him, futilely, to be reasonable; that plea doesn't work, but something else does.
- A story sorta based on the Springsteen song "Meeting Across the River", but set in Yellowstone instead of Jersey, with Eastern European punks instead of American punks.
- A story set in 1835 about two trappers snowbound in a cabin, one slowly being driven insane by the other
- A story about Nate Romanowski (with Joe in a cameo role) being pressured by a Saudi prince into providing falcons; that's a problem that Nate solves beautifully.
- A story about a fishing expedition in a drift boat that goes either (a) horribly wrong or (b) exactly as planned, depending on your point of view.
- A very neat story about a lawyer taken prisoner by a crazed "no-account workingman", based on a decades-old alleged screwing-over of his grandfather. Surprise ending!
- A story about Joe's investigation of a very grim scene: a pickup going into a lake in sub-zero weather, a victim who nearly escaped a frozen fate, but didn't.
- A story about American Indians hired by Paris Disneyland to provide atmosphere for their Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (apparently a real thing); it turns out that French ladies are quite smitten with the, um, authenticity. But in one case, everything goes horribly wrong.
- A short short story about a young girl going fishin' with her grandpa. Twist ending!
- And a story about Joe's response to a "shots fired" report, seeming to implicate an old-time sheep rancher. He finds more than he bargained for.
I'm not much of a short-story reader, but these are great. You can't go wrong with Box.