“The Disappeared” by C. J. Box has all the elements that readers have come to enjoy in a Joe Pickett novel. This is a compelling mystery that is action-packed, has details about the Western setting, likable characters and humorous interaction.
“Over the 18 books I have written, Joe has moved around in the state of Wyoming quite a bit,” Box said. “He has gone to almost every corner of it, although there are a few more places for him to visit. In this book, he has gone to Saratoga, in south-central Wyoming, a place I am really fond of. Sometimes I use fictional locations, but Saratoga as described really exists. I love the great terrain and mountain ranges. I put in the book quote, ‘The terrain was high and the windswept desert would have no inkling that twenty-one miles to the south was a lush river valley with mountain peaks on three sides. Elk Mountain and the Snowy Range rose sun-kissed and blue…’ I hope readers learn about it through Joe’s travels. I also enjoy talking about the community. For example, in most Wyoming towns Friday night is much more popular for socializing than Saturday nights.”
Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett has to contend with a new governor, Colter Allen. He is continuing the previous practice of retired Gov. Spencer Rulon, requesting
Pickett to be a troubleshooter. Joe is asked to find a prominent female British executive that never came home from the high-end guest dude ranch she was visiting. Pressure is mounting from the family, the tabloids, and the British government to find out what happened to her. Unlike Rulon, Joe does not have a special relationship with Allen and suspects he has ulterior motives in asking for this favor.
The theme, according to Box, is “having the freedom to get away from life’s stress. I put in the C. S. Lewis quote because it applied perfectly, ‘Why would I ever trade long lazy walks in the forest to going back to traffic, bad air, and insipid “men without chests.”’”
Sheridan, his daughter, who works at the ranch, volunteers to help along with his dear friend, Nate Romanowski, who gets answers by ignoring the rules of law. Also, in need of a favor, Nate is willing to help as he tries to find answers to his own agenda. He wants Joe to intervene with the feds on behalf of Falconers who can no longer hunt with eagles even though their permits are in order.
As with all of Box’s books he delves into an environmental issue, absurd regulations, as well as showing how political leaders are both dislikeable and self-centered. This includes the governor’s chief of staff, Connor Hanlon, who loves to displace blame.
“The Disappeared” has a plot that will not vanish from reader’s minds. It is engrossing and riveting that has people turning the pages at a brisk pace.