Author: C.J. Box
Vicious Circle is book number 17 in the Joe Pickett series and fortunately for us it stands alone well. Sometimes for a series this long running it’s good to come in later because there’s no preconceived notions and nothing to compare it to.
Box gives us enough back story to understand what’s going on in the story but not so much that those familiar with the story would be bored.
Joe Pickett is a Game Warden in Wyoming, enforcing hunting laws in the mountains. He is trying to chase down a poaching ring causing strife in the area, and the past just came back to haunt him.
The book opens with Pickett flying in a small plane with members of the Civil Air Patrol looking for a lost hunter; and what they find is not what they were expecting.
Two years ago Pickett’s daughter was beaten and left by the side of a road, setting off a chain of events that leaves Pickett on the wrong side of a notorious local family, the only two remaining members of the family ended up in prison but the youngest son, Dallas, has just been released and sighted in town.
Dallas swore revenge and Joe is sure he means to exact it but there’s not a lot he can do until Dallas makes his move.
There’s a lot going on in Vicious Circle and we are right there with Joe as he wonders how, and if, it’s all connected.
Vicious Circle is a crime thriller, heavy on suspense and quite well written. It’s a book about revenge and taking an eye for an eye, or trying to anyway.
All of the characters in this novel are known from earlier books, some have had bigger parts than others but we know they have all been introduced along the way. Coming into a series so far down the storyline can be difficult because fans of the series know the characters well and have become good friends with them, so the last thing they want is to have to get to know them all over again every single book. But on the other hand, new readers need to get to know them so there has to be enough information for them to connect with characters and feel their depth. Personally, I think Box has captured the balance well. I am left intrigued to know more about Pickett and his family, and his dealings with the Cates family, but still feeling connected to his character in this book.
The story was well paced with the action non-stop and a range of puzzle pieces to try and put together. We know who from early on, and we know why but the how is not an easy question to answer.
Pickett has a long an interesting career under his belt from what is intimated throughout the story and it seems that trouble seems to follow him. He is an interesting character with a close and loving family and friends in all levels of law enforcement across the state.
I enjoyed all aspects of this book and it was an interesting change from the types of books I’ve been reading lately. It’s also a lot closer to the type of book I was reading before I started reviewing.
Vicious Circle is a book I would definitely recommend to those who like suspenseful thrillers and crime fiction. It doesn’t get bogged down in law enforcement procedures and it keeps the surprises coming. Yes, it’s book 17 in a series but I think it can still be enjoyed as an introduction to Joe Pickett and Twelve Sleep County.