Book Club: Vicious Circle

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Author: C.J. Box
ISBN: 9781784973148
RRP: $32.99

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.

Thanks to Harper Collins 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Vicious Circle so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

Vicious Circle is published by Harper Collins and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Vicious Circle

  1. Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Harper Collins for supplying the novel ‘Vicious Circle’ by C J Box for review. It was my first time reading novels by this author.

    This book was a follow on from a series of books by C J Box. Not having been introduced to these books or characters before, the author made it easy for the reader to get to know the characters throughout this book. Set in Wyoming, this is a book of revenge; a suspense drama where the main character Dallas Cates who is now released from prison goes on the prowl for revenge against Games Warden, Joe Pickett, who Dallas holds responsible for the death of his father, two brothers and his incarcerated quadriplegic mother. Joe has a troubled past history with the Cates family and therefore a personal interest in nabbing Dallas after continuing attacks on his own family members and his property occur. A few townspeople become innocent victims of the Cates plotting and end up murdered. Joe and his fellow law enforcement officers go in search of clues to nail Dallas and his band of ex con accomplices.

    The author uses great descriptions in regards to the scenery and the characters. I found the scene where Joe met up with Governor Allen a little mundane however. Not having an understanding of the American political system made it difficult to appreciate or take an interest in the references to Democrats, Republicans and all the political entanglements.

    The book doesn’t move very quickly in my view. I was waiting for the suspense to kick in with each ensuing chapter and was a little disappointed when a new character was introduced then no further dramatic events ensued. I felt impatient for the grittiness to truly commence, even though the book did hold some scenes of heightened drama. Saying that I still felt the scenes weren’t suspenseful enough in their depiction. It left me with a bit of an anticlimax feeling. When reading a revenge, suspense novel I at least expect that the bad guy will ‘meet his Waterloo’ and the good guy wins out. In this book the main bad guys were calmly arrested and we presume went back to jail. Thus, I suppose the premise of the next book.

    But being a story of revenge I was just expecting and hoping that it drew me in more, and was more gripping. It didn’t hold my interest to the extent I was hoping for but I suppose it didn’t help that I wasn’t able to read it in long stints. My reading was a little hit and miss and in small doses.

    I have to say that there just wasn’t enough drama, twists and turns to keep me guessing or fast action movement in this book to keep me riveted. It was an OK read but not outstanding.

  2. I really enjoyed this thriller – it’s slightly unusual, but still makes good use of many of the expected tropes of the genre. It’s well written, and strong characterisation makes it particularly involving.

    It’s the 17th in the Joe Pickett series; I hadn’t read the first 16, and it didn’t matter at all. Although there was the occasional reference to events that (I’d guess) formed the plots of earlier books, this one stands alone very effectively. I imagine the lives of Joe and his family would be even more involving if I’d been following them for longer, but plot wise it simply didn’t matter that this was within a series.

    Joe Pickett is a game warden. That’s an unusual choice, and leads to an unusual setting. American readers may be more familiar with wardens and their duties, but I’ve never seen one so central to a plot before. It’s a very effective way to have a highly competent hero who doesn’t fit the usual mould for thriller heroes.

    It also suits Box’s writing style – it’s more understated than you see in many thrillers, but very effective in sweeping you up. Some of the events are all the more chilling for the very ordinary, everyday approach to the prose.

    Two years ago an assault on his daughter led Joe Pickett into a confrontation with the Cates family, long despised by many in the region as white trash. Three of the Cates’ wound up dead, and two in prison. Now one is out of prison, back in town, and determined to wreak revenge on those he feels wronged him. Joe dreads what’s coming, but he’s too morally upright to take pre-emptive action. He’s also conflicted by his ability to see other points of view.

    This was a really good novel with an involving plot, strong characterisation, and a writing style that I found enjoyably understated for a thriller. It may be enjoyed not just by fans of the genre, but also by readers simply looking for well written, well characterised novels.

  3. What a intriguing read. Jo Picket a game warden has now got to watch his back as his daughters jailed attacker is released from prison. Revenge is a dish best served cold! The characters are easy to get to know and the book flows well. There have been a lot of books in the series before but you can easily read this as a stand alone book. It’s a great thriller story get comfy and enjoy!!

  4. I really enjoyed Vicious Circle by C.J Box and would highly recommend it to all , especially those who love a good suspense filled novel.
    As I understand it these books are a part of a series involving Joe Pickett .I had no problem having not read any of the others and think anyone wanting a good read could pick it up and follow the back story that is a part of this novel.
    After an assault on his daughter game warden Joe Pickett is swept up in a game of revenge with the Cates family .One of whom is now out of prison and wanting revenge on those he believes to have wronged him.
    A gripping read in my opinion and I will look at find previous books to read.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for allowing me to read and review this great read .

  5. Thanks Beauty & Lace and Harper Collins for this book to read. I see that C.J. Box has written numerous books and I am not aware of him. It wasn’t till I actually finished the book that I read that this particular book is Number 17 in a series about the main character of Joe Pickett. In saying that though, it’s not as if I have started this book and have no idea who or what is happening.

    I started the book and read it in one day because I just wanted to keep reading. I was totally immersed in the storyline.

    The character of Joe Pickett the game warden and his family is endearing and there are memorable moments and fast paced stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    A lot of characters that I liked in the book also and on further reading, I would be gripped with fear and heart stopping moments as I turned the pages over. That’s when I know that I am reading a thrilling storyline of adventure, crime and murder involved.

    C.J. really does describe descriptions really well that I could visualise it all.

    I am impressed with C.J. Box’s writing of the storyline. Definitely a book that is enjoyable to readers that like thrilling stories. You won’t be disappointed.

  6. Thank you BeautyandLace and Harper Collins for this book reading opportunity. This book is a crime thriller which to me is written well, but there’s many dimensions and aspects to this book.

    There were times when I was amazed with the author’s descriptions and fine details of characters and their gestures and appearances. It really made it a pleasure to read and I found myself smiling at the accuracy.

    Saying that, I have to say that there were the same details descriptions when things were not so pleasant, and they were a bit shocking, abrupt and sad. So I do think you need to be a bit tough to read this book, just in case you get a shock!

    The narrative moved well, but there were things I wanted to happen, that didn’t really develop as much as I wanted. But ofcourse, I am reading, not writing the book!

    It is a crime thriller, and I did keep reading to know what happened next. There are investigations, court hearings, family relationships, flashbacks, prison visits and other things that happen. Things are very clear, and graphic, so I would say the author has done a great job in the fine details. And that keeps the reader captivated.

    I liked the writing style, and the characters were varied and each has their own personalities. There’s the main hero, Joe, and his family and we keep reading and touching upon the past, involving Joe’s daughter, but it would have been nice if there was more to that story.

    The lead up to the end, was slightly predicatable, but still well written. I like the very last line in the book, it reminded me that things are real and aren’t just a happy ending line. Again, well written and thought out.

    So what I enjoyed is the writing style and descriptions, and what I didn’t enjoy so much is meeting characters, and learning about their life, and then some shocking things (I won’t spoil the story) happen!
    But isn’t that the true talent of a crime writer, to take us on a surprising, thrilling journey. So thank you CJ Box, well done!

  7. The story begins with Joe Pickett as a passenger in a plane with two others looking for Dave Farkus a hunter who has been reported as missing in the mountains. They think they see him and that he is being stalked by three people and believe that they are a witness to his murder. Dallas Cates who had been a boy-friend of Joe’s daughter April had just been released from prison and was out for revenge on Joe and his family after the death of his father and two brothers. Dave had previously phoned Joe that he had overheard a conversation in the Stockman’s Bar between Dallas and two others about Joe and his family. The local police arrest Dallas Cates and attempt to prosecute him for the murder of Dave Farkus but he cleverly manages to get out of it.
    There are a lot of twists and turns in this book as well as surprises which kept me guessing right up until the finish.
    I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading thrillers.
    I would like to thank Harper Collins and Beauty & Lace for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  8. Thank you Harper Collins and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review Vicious Circle by C.J .Box. Crime thrillers are not a genre I would normally choose to read but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style flowed well and the story was easy to follow, but with sufficient twists to keep it interesting. I didn’t realise that this was book 17 in the Joe Pickett series until I began reading the book, but found not having read the previous novels in the series didn’t impede my ability to follow the story at all. Box provides enough background on events and characters to fill you in, without providing so much detail that those who have read the whole series would be bored or frustrated.

    In many ways this is a classic good vs evil story of two families the Pickett’s and the Cates’, Joe Pickett, a game warden (which in the USA seems to be a part of the police force), his wife Marybeth, who works in a library, and their three daughters Sheridan, April and Lucy are the “good guys.” Eldon Cates, his wife Brenda and their three sons, Bull, Timber and Dallas are the “bad guys”.

    A couple of years before this book begins April had run off with Dallas (the local rodeo champion) to travel the rodeo circuit, then April was found on the side of the highway beaten and dumped. Pickett was convinced it was Dallas who had done it, but the available evidence pointed to someone else. April was unable to testify as she was in a coma in hospital, so Joe did some investigating himself which resulted in the deaths of Eldon and Bull, Brenda becoming a quadriplegic, and Dallas sustaining injuries that resulted in him being unable to compete on the rodeo circuit anymore. In addition Timber died shortly after, having fallen (?) from a hospital balcony.. Dallas was convicted of a separate misdemeanor and sentenced to a short stint in jail, and Brenda was also convicted and found herself in the women’s penitentiary.

    Dallas served a little over a year in prison, and has returned to town vowing revenge on the Pickett family who he considers to have destroyed his own..

    Over the course of the book we are introduced to a number of other characters, some clearly on the side of either the Pickett or Cates family, some whose allegiance is more fluid and some who are total innocents caught in the crossfire.

    One of the things that struck me reading the book was how hate can twist a person, how the need for revenge can inflame a person or a family beyond accepting their own role in circumstances, and how much easier it is to lay the blame on others than take responsibility for your own actions.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a crime thriller that is well written but not to intense (and won’t give you nightmares!)

  9. What a great read this novel was. No. 17 in the Joe Pickett series…I haven’t read the others but this book stood alone fine. I am however going to backtrack now because I’m curious how all the events unfolded and how it got this far. C.J Box has a unique writing style that hooks you in and if I didn’t have 3 kids and work I would’ve gladly read this in a day. It flowed easily and I was on the edge of my seat! Loved the ending and I can see how just maybe….it will follow on with another…maybe.
    I can’t praise this novel enough and I might even be able to get the man to read it since it’s quite blockey.
    Thanks again Beauty & Lace!

  10. This was a great read and is number 17 in the Joe Pickett series. I have never heard of C.J.Box which is surprising considering how many books have been written but I could see myself reading more books in the future.
    This story is easily read as a stand alone book as enough information is given about the previous interactions between the characters. Joe Pickett is an interesting character who seems to get into a lot of situations with criminals despite being a Wyoming Game Warden and not a standard officer of the law. This book is really about the revenge of one family who Joe has had a lot of trouble with over the years so anyone has read any previous books will really enjoy this book. The story is written in a way that is easy to follow and has insights of a few different characters whilst mainly being from Joe’s perspective.
    I would recommend this book to any fans of crime fiction as it would was very enjoyable to read.

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