C. J. Box
Charles James (C.J.) Box, Jr. is an American author of twenty-one novels. Box is the author of the popular Joe Pickett series, as well as several stand-alone novels, and a collection of short stories. The novels have been translated into 27 languages. Over ten million copies of his novels have been sold in the U.S. alone. The first novel in his Joe Pickett series, Open Season, was included in The New York Times list of "Notable Books" of 2001. Open Season, Blue Heaven, Nowhere To Run, and The Highway have been optioned for film and television. In 2016, Off The Grid debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in March.
Personal Life and Education
Box is a Wyoming native and currently lives in the state. He grew up in the town of Casper. Box graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from the University of Denver. He has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, a small town newspaper reporter and editor, and he owned an international tourism marketing firm with his wife, Laurie. They have three daughters and one grandchild. He and his wife Laurie split their time between their home and ranch in Wyoming.
In 2008, Box was awarded the "BIG WYO" Award from the state tourism industry. He served on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and currently serves on the Wyoming Office of Tourism Board.
- For Open Season, Box won the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, and the Barry Award, all in the Best First Novel category.
- Prix Calibre 38 Award (France)
- Blue Heaven, his first stand-alone novel, won the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel of 2008.
- 2010 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award
- 2016 Western Heritage Award for Literature by the National Cowboy Museum
Joe Pickett Novels
- Open Season (Putnam, July 2001) ISBN 978-0-399-14748-7 Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden--especially one like Joe who won't take bribes or look the other way--is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police. As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species, and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
- Savage Run (Putnam, June 2002) ISBN 978-0-399-14887-3 When a massive explosion occurs deep within the forests of Twelve Sleep County and a colorful environmental activist appears to have perished in the blast, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is called to the scene to help investigate. Pickett soon discovers clues that lead to a deadly conspiracy-one that will test his courage, his survival skills, and his determination to "do the right thing" despite all costs.
- Winterkill (Putnam, May 2003) ISBN 978-0-425-19595-6 Joe Pickett finds himself at the center of a confrontation between a special investigative team and a group of government-hating survivalists camped out on federal land. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Joe lays his life on the line to protect an innocent girl before a wave of violence surges over the Bighorn Mountains.
- Trophy Hunt (Putnam, June 2004) ISBN 978-0-399-15200-9 It's an idyllic late summer day in Saddlestring, Wyoming, and game warden Joe Pickett is fly-fishing with his two daughters when he stumbles upon the mutilated body of a moose. Whatever-or whoever-attacked the animal was ruthless: Half the animal's face has been sliced away, the skin peeled back from the flesh. Days later, after the discovery of a small herd of mutilated cattle, Pickett realizes this is something much bigger. Local authorities are quick to label the attacks the work of a grizzly bear, but Joe knows otherwise. Are the animals only practice for a killer about to move on to a different, more challenging prey? Joe's worst fears are realized when the bodies of two men are discovered within days of each other, their wounds eerily similar. There's a vicious killer, a modern-day Jack the Ripper, on the loose in Saddlestring--and it appears his rampage is just beginning.
- Out of Range (Putnam, May 2005) ISBN 978-0-399-15291-7 Joe Pickett receives some disturbing news: Will Jensen, a fellow Wyoming game warden and a good friend, has killed himself. And Joe's been picked to temporarily run Jensen's Teton district. Jackson, Wyoming, is a far cry from Joe's hometown of Saddlestring-it's the epicenter for many environmental extremists and an elite playground for the rich and powerful-and Joe quickly finds himself in over his head. Yet despite the pressures of his new job, he can't get his friend's suicide out of his mind. The closer Joe comes to the truth about Will's death, the more his own life spirals out of control-and he realizes that if he's not careful, he may end up as Jackson's next victim.
- In Plain Sight (Putnam, May 2006) ISBN 978-0-399-15360-0 Spring has finally come to Saddlestring, Wyoming and game warden Joe Pickett is relieved the long, harsh winter is finally over. However, a cloud of trouble threatens to spoil the milder weather—local matriarch and ranch owner Opal Scarlett has vanished under suspicious circumstances. Two of her sons, Hank and Arlen, are battling for control of their mother's multi-million dollar empire and their bitter fight threatens to tear the whole valley apart. Everyone is so caught up in the brothers' battle that they seem to have forgotten that Opal is missing. Joe is convinced, though, that the local outfitter who was the last to see her alive isn’t responsible for her murder. When a series of wicked pranks escalate into the most personal kind of violence, Joe starts to doubt what is happening is connected to Opal's disappearance -- but comes instead from the darkest chapters of his own past. And he knows whoever is after him has a vicious debt to collect and wants Joe to pay with his job, his home... his blood.
- Free Fire (Putnam, May 2007) ISBN 978-0-399-15427-0 Joe Pickett returns, this time to the wilds of Yellowstone National Park. For weeks, the headlines have been abuzz with the story of Clay McCann, a lawyer who slaughtered four campers in a far-off corner of Yellowstone. After the murders, McCann immediately turned himself in at the nearest ranger station. Seemed like a slam-dunk case for law enforcement – except that the crimes were committed in a thin sliver of land with zero residents and overlapping jurisdiction, the so-called free-fire zone. McCann has taken advantage of an obscure loophole in the law: neither the state nor the federal government can try him for his crime. The worst mass murderer in Wyoming history walks out of jail a free man. Governor Rulon, sensitive to the rising tide of public outrage, wants his own investigation into the murders and will reinstate Joe as a game warden if he’ll go to Yellowstone “without portfolio” to investigate. It quickly becomes clear to Joe that McCann is deeply involved with some illegal activity taking place in the park – something tremendously lucrative and unusually dangerous. As Joe and his partner Nate Romanowski search for the key to the murders, they discover that it may be hidden in the rugged terrain of the park itself.
- Blood Trail (Putnam, May 2008) ISBN 978-0-399-15488-1 It’s elk season in the Rockies, but this year one hunter is stalking a different kind of prey. Game wardens have found a hunter dead at a camp in the mountains—strung up, gutted, skinned, and beheaded, as if he were the elk he’d been pursuing. A spent cartridge and a poker chip lie next to his body. Ripples of horror spread through the community, and with a possibly psychotic killer on the loose, Governor Rulon is forced to end hunting season early for the first time in state history—outraging hunters and potentially crippling the state’s income from the loss of hunting license revenue. But when the brutal murders eerily coincide with the arrival of radical anti-hunting activist Klamath Moore, Pickett knows the Governor’s ruling is the least of his worries. Are the murders the work of a deranged activist or of a lone psychopath with a personal vendetta? As always, Joe Pickett is the governor’s go-to man, and he’s put on the case to track the murderous hunter, as more bodies—and poker chips—turn up.
- Below Zero (Putnam, June 2009) ISBN 978-0-399-15575-8 Six years ago, Joe Pickett's foster daughter, April, was murdered. Now, someone is leaving phone messages claiming to be the dead girl. As his family struggles with the disturbing event, he discovers that the calls have been placed from locations where serious environmental crimes have occurred. And as the phone calls grow closer, so does the danger. Meanwhile, a dying Chicago mobster named Stenko and a much younger girl cross the country. He’s on a mission is to reconcile with his extreme environmentalist son before he goes. His son is less interested in reconciliation than in getting his father to repent for the environmental crimes he’s committed during his lifetime. He wants his father to become not just carbon neutral, but to reduce his carbon footprint to below zero—as if he’d never even existed. As the path of Stenko and his companions starts to cross with Joe, Sheridan, and Nate, the question is raised: Is this young girl April or is The Pickett Family the victims of the cruelest of hoaxes?
- Nowhere to Run (Putnam, April 2010) ISBN 978-0-399-15645-8 Joe Pickett’s in his last week as the temporary game warden in the isolated town of Baggs, Wyoming, but there have been strange things going on in the surrounding mountains, and his conscience won’t let him leave without checking them out: reports of camps looted, tents slashed, elk butchered. And then there’s the runner who’s gone missing – an Olympic hopeful who’d been training in the region and then just…vanished. Joe doesn’t mind admitting that the farther he rides, the more he wishes he could just turn around and go home. And he is right to be concerned. Because what awaits him is like nothing he’s ever dealt with, like something out of an old story, except this is all too real and all too deadly. When he’d first saddled up, he’d thought of this as his last patrol. What he hadn’t known was just how accurate that might turn out to be.
- Cold Wind (Putnam, March 2011) ISBN 978-0-399-15735-6 When Earl Alden is found dead, dangling from a wind turbine, it's his wife, Missy, who is arrested. Unfortunately for Joe Pickett, Missy is his mother-in-law, a woman he dislikes heartily, and now he doesn't know what to do - especially when the early signs point to her being guilty as sin. But then things happen to make Joe wonder: Is Earl's death what it appears to be? Is Missy being set up? He has the county DA and sheriff on one side, his wife on the other, his estranged friend Nate on a lethal mission of his own, and some powerful interests breathing down his neck. Whichever way this goes...it's not going to be good.
- Force of Nature (Putnam, March 2012) ISBN 978-0-399-15826-1 Joe Pickett never wanted to know about it, but Nate Romanowski always knew trouble was coming out of his past. Now it's here, and it may not only be the battle of his life -- but of Joe's. In 1995, Nate was in a secret Special Forces unit abroad when a colleague did something terrible. Now high up in the government, the man is determined to eliminate anyone who knows about it, and Nate knows exactly how he'll do it-by striking at Nate's friends to draw him out. The entire Pickett family will be a target, and the only way to fight back is outside the law. Nate knows he can do it, but he isn't sure about his straight-arrow friend-and all their lives could depend on it.
- Breaking Point (Putnam, March 2013) ISBN 978-0-399-16075-2 It was always good to see Butch Roberson, Joe thought. Little did he know that when he talked to Butch that day in the forest, the man was about to disappear. He was heading into the mountains to scout elk, he said, but instead he was running. Two EPA employees had just been murdered, and all signs pointed to him as the killer. As the manhunt organized itself, Joe heard more of the story – about the tract of land Butch and his wife had bought to build their retirement home on, until the EPA declared it a wetland. About the penalties they charged him when he balked, new ones piling up every day, until the family was torn apart…and finally, it seems, the man just cracked. But was it the whole story? The more Joe looks into it, the more he begins to wonder – and the more he finds himself in the middle of a war he never expected and never wanted. Every man reaches his breaking point. Joe Pickett may just have reached his.
- Stone Cold (Putnam, March 2014) ISBN 978-0-399-16076-9 Everything about the man is a mystery: the massive ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming that nobody ever visits, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people. Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out what the truth is, but he discovers a lot more than he’d bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. The other is new—but Joe knows him all too well. The first man doesn’t frighten Joe. The second is another story entirely.
- Endangered (Putnam, March 2015) ISBN 978-0-399-16077-6 She was gone. Joe Pickett had good reason to dislike Dallas Cates, even if he was a rodeo champion, and now he has even more—Joe’s eighteen-year-old daughter has run off with him. And then comes even worse news: The body of a girl has been found in a ditch along the highway—alive, but just barely, the victim of blunt force trauma. It is her, and the doctors aren’t sure if she’ll recover. Cates denies having anything to do with it—says she ran away from him, too—and there’s evidence that points to another man. But Joe knows in his gut who’s responsible. What he doesn’t know is the kind of danger he’s about to encounter. Cates is bad enough, but Cates’s family is like none Joe has ever met before. Joe’s going to find out the truth, even if it kills him. But this time, it just might.
- Off the Grid (Putnam, March 2016) ISBN 9780399176609 The Red Desert of Wyoming is a bleak, beautiful, punishing place for anybody, but never more dangerous than it is now for Joe Pickett, Nate Romanowski, and the one who should never have been there: Joe’s daughter Sheridan. But now the stakes are higher than ever. Nate Romanowski is off the grid, recuperating from wounds and trying to deal with past crimes, when he is suddenly confronted by a small team of elite professional special operators. They’re not here to threaten him, but to make a deal. They need help destroying a domestic terror cell in the Red Desert, and in return, they’ll make Nate’s criminal record disappear. But they are not what they seem, as Joe Pickett discovers. They have a much different plan in mind, and it just may be something that takes them all down, including Nate and Joe. And if there is other collateral damage? That’s just the fortunes of war.
- Blue Heaven (St. Martin's Minotaur, January 2008) ISBN 978-0-312-36570-7
- Three Weeks to Say Goodbye (St. Martin's Minotaur, January 2009) ISBN 978-0-312-36572-1
- Back of Beyond (St. Martin's Minotaur, August 2011) ISBN 978-0-312-36574-5
- The Highway (St. Martin's Minotaur, July 2013) ISBN 978-0-312-58320-0
- Badlands (St. Martin's Minotaur, July 2015) ISBN 9780312583217
- Shots Fired: Stories from Joe Pickett Country (Putnam, July 2014) ISBN 978-0-399-15858-2
(Included in Shots Fired)
- Dull Knife (2005) ("A Joe Pickett Story")
- The Master Falconer (2006)
- Le Sauvage Noble (2007)
- "CJ Box Official Website".
- "Notable Books - Fiction - Results Listing". NYTimes.com. 2001-12-02. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- "Wyoming Business Report".
- "CJ Box Official website".
- "About C.J. Box | CJ Box Web Site". Cjbox.net. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- C. J. Box's website
- 2011 Interview in Shotsmag Ezine - "In the Spotlight"
- Reader's Digest Select Editions interview.
- C. J. Box papers at the University of Wyoming - American Heritage Center
- Profile on the Macmillan Speakers Bureau website