Below Zero (Joe Pickett Series #9)

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Overview

"Tell Sherry April called." That simple phone message shakes Joe Pickett's oldest daughter, Sheridan, and the rest of the family to the core. To Joe, it doesn't seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre, described in Winterkill, six years before. He was there, and he was unable to save her. But Sheridan starts to believe there's a chance that April is still alive, and her suspicions are confirmed when the person sending texts to her cell phone is able to recall family incidents only April could know." "Meanwhile, a

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Below Zero (Joe Pickett Series #9)

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Overview

"Tell Sherry April called." That simple phone message shakes Joe Pickett's oldest daughter, Sheridan, and the rest of the family to the core. To Joe, it doesn't seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre, described in Winterkill, six years before. He was there, and he was unable to save her. But Sheridan starts to believe there's a chance that April is still alive, and her suspicions are confirmed when the person sending texts to her cell phone is able to recall family incidents only April could know." "Meanwhile, a dying Chicago mobster named Stenko and a much younger girl cross the country. He's on a mission to reconcile with his extreme environmentalist son before he goes. His son wants Stenko to repent for the environmental crimes he's committed during his lifetime, by not just becoming carbon neutral, but reducing his carbon footprint to below zero - as if he'd never even existed." "But when "April's" texts start to refer to "bad things," and when Joe discovers they come from locations throughout the West where vicious murders have taken place, alarm bells go off. Joe, Sheridan, and Nate Romanowski take to the road to connect the texts with the crimes." As Stenko and his companions start to cross paths with Joe, Sheridan, and Nate, the question looms: Is this girl April, or is the Pickett family the victim of the cruelest of hoaxes?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Edgar-finalist Box's ninth novel to feature Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett begins with a bombshell: could Pickett's foster daughter, April, who apparently died six years earlier in a horrific conflagration when overzealous FBI agents confronted a group of dissident survivalists (see 2003's Winterkill), still be alive? Pickett's 17-year-old daughter, Sheridan, begins receiving disturbing text messages from someone claiming to be her dead sister, and Pickett's entire family is forced to relive the tragedy. Even worse, whoever is sending these messages is traveling cross-country with suspected serial killers targeting people whose carbon footprint is too high. Still struggling with the guilt of not protecting April from her nightmarish fate in Winterkill, Pickett vows to save her this time, no matter the cost. Powered by provocative themes of environmental activism, this relentlessly paced powder keg of a thriller could be Box's best to date. Author tour. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

What would you do if a loved one began text messaging you after her death? Is someone playing a bizarre hoax on the Pickett family? Sheridan, Joe Pickett's older daughter, begins receiving text messages from someone saying she's April, the foster child killed in the Waco-style raid six years earlier (as recounted in Winterkill). "April" seems to be a hostage of a deranged ecoterrorist and his father, and they're headed straight for Wyoming. Once again, game warden Pickett plunges into the middle of a topical environmental issue, putting his and his girls' lives on the line. Wyoming's immense spaces make a fitting background for another tense thriller, with the iconic Devils Tower holding court over a frantic chase through the tangled back roads of the Black Hills. Box's series is the gold standard in the western mystery subgenre (Blood Trail), and his latest is just as addictive as the others. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ2/1/09.]
—Teresa L. Jacobsen

Kirkus Reviews
Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett (Blood Trail, 2008, etc.) is at it again. Six years ago, April Keeley, the abandoned girl the Pickett family had taken in, died in a fiery shootout with allies of her irresponsible, litigious mother. Or did she? Suddenly Sheridan Pickett is getting text messages from someone who claims she's April, full of family details only April could know. Initially as skeptical as his daughter, Joe becomes convinced that April is alive but in grave danger once more. He'd been even more frantic if he knew that after a long string of dead-end foster homes, the 14-year-old had been rescued from a Chicago brothel by David "Stenko" Stenson, a gangster determined to show some kindness before cancer killed him, and Stenko's son Robert, a rabid environmental activist obsessed with forcing citizen polluters to buy carbon offsets, often at gunpoint. Box spices Joe's pursuit of the fast-moving Stensons and their unwilling companion with Joe's obligatory tangles with the governor's office, the FBI and his much-married mother-in-law. Basically, though, the tale is a tug-of-war between two father-figures over a young woman who isn't the daughter of either one. Though one of Box's plot twists pays off in spades, most of them don't, and the latest round of Joe's unending domestic troubles reads like soap opera. Despite incidental pleasures, this is the weakest of Joe's nine cases to date.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Blue Heaven, Box's previous book, was a terrific stand-alone thriller about rogue L.A. cops retired to Idaho. Below Zero is a return to the Joe Pickett series, Box's ongoing dissection of crime in Wyoming as seen through the eyes of a game warden whose favorite big game is human villains. Below Zero is the ninth Pickett book, and it could be the best one yet. Beautifully written and constructed, with an art that underplays its excitement and emotional strength, it quickly becomes personal with a phone message: "Tell Sherry April called." But April, the Picketts' foster daughter, was killed in a bloody massacre, described in Winterkill, which Joe witnessed. In subsequent calls, the girl calling herself April gives so many details of their life together that Sherry begins to believe she really is alive. Joe is still skeptical. Meanwhile, Box's amazing ability to create villains both frightening and believable kicks into high gear. An older man, Stenko, his son Robert, and a young girl (the one leaving messages and texting Sherry) are traveling across the country. Stenko's purpose is to undo the damage he's done to the environment by erasing his "carbon footprint" first to zero and then to below zero. Unfortunately, he is lowering his footprint with a series of mostly violent crimes. Stenko's first target is in a trailer park: a giant mobile home, called The Unit by a retired farm couple, that gets about seven miles per gallon. Stenko shoots the couple, then burns The Unit. "Here's the deal," Stenko says to his next targets. "I was a hard-charger. Ambitious, ruthless, I guess.... But then I got the word from my docs.... I thought, What a selfish bastard I am. Like you two, I took and took and I never gave anything back.... Now I've got this deficit I'm trying to pay down." --Dick Adler
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399155758
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/16/2009
  • Series: Joe Pickett Series , #9
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

C. J. Box

C. J. Box is the author of five Joe Pickett novels, and has won the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry awards. He has also been an Edgar Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. A Wyoming native, Box serves on the board of directors for Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good Reading

    I have read several other books by C.J. Box and have enjoyed them all. The books are always filled with adventure and twists and turns that you don't expect. This book was no exception. It grabs you and keeps you reading from the beginning. Unlike some murder/mystery books, this one was hard to predict. It was a little violent in places, as are all Box's books, but nothing extreme. I love his main character and this is another one of those books you can't put down once you start reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Good book but---

    Good book but lots of words run together. Looks bad on behalf of B&N e-books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book teaches about not giving up

    Joe Pickett is out of town when a call comes into his home from April. His family is in disbelief since April was killed five years ago.
    April had been abandoned by her mother when she was six. Joe and Maribeth took her in as a foster child with the view of adoption. Three years later, the Soverigns, a group of Montana Freeman survivalists took April back by a legal manuver. The FBI want to speak to the Soverigns concerning illegal weapons and are at their trailer. Joe sees a bad connection to a gas pipe and tries to warn everyone but there is an explosion. The authorites remove bodies of two adults and a child. Joe can't view the charred remains and believes April has died.
    However, one of the Soverigns escapes with April. She is then passed from one family to another and ends up with a family that cares for a number of children so they can get their welfare checks.
    When the father of this family makes moves as if to sexually prey on April, another girl, April's age stands up for her.
    The father then takes April to a whore house and sells her. As April is being groomed to work there, a man named Stenko arrives. He has a dispute with the owner and shoots him. Then sees April, who reminds him of his deceased daughter, Carmen, and rescues her.
    However, Stenko is dying of cancer. He and his son are traveling around, killing people who are harming the ecology.
    Joe sets out to rescue April, stop Stenko, and prove to April that he didn't abandon her when he thought she had died.
    There is a good deal of writing about the matter of trust in this story and it deals nicely with the relationship of Pickett and his older daughter, Sheriden.
    The plot is different, Pickett is an honorable character and there is a surprising plot twist at the end.
    Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    It's hard to believe C.J. Box wrote this book

    C.J. Box is one of my top 5 authors. I have read all his books and I thought each one was very good to excellent. That said, "Below Zero" was a total bummer. Some of the book was C.J. but most of the book I kept thinking, "I can't believe he wrote this book!" The plot was way below zero and the dialog was very childish. Maybe this book would be good if one was in 4th or 5th grade. If this was the first book I had read by this author, I NEVER would have picked up a second one.
    So disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The family is what makes C.J. Box's thrillers as exciting as they always are

    April Kelley supposedly died six years ago when the FBI opened fire on the Sovereign Cult (see WINTERKILL); who were fanatical survivalists. It comes as a shock when a resident in their old home tells Sheridan Pickett that April called and he gave the caller her cell number. Her mother Marybeth thinks it is a fake until April shares information with Sheridan about the Picketts that only the family would know.-----------

    Game Warden Joe comes home and after hearing the cell phone information contacts the FBI who becomes interested because April is traveling with Chicago mobster Stenko and his born again rabid environmentalist son Robert. The Feds track them through April's cell phone when she calls Sheridan who is with her dad Joe seeking her. Stenko and son go on a murder spree while Joe tries to extract his April from the killers and before the FBI open fire again.---------------

    Although six years have passed, the Pickets are euphoric that April somehow is alive although they wonder why she never contacted them before. The family is what makes C.J. Box's thrillers as exciting as they always are by bringing believable reactions and plausibility to the always exhilarating plot. This time it is extremely personal as readers are hooked with the non stop action and like the Pickett brood hope April not only comes out of it alive, but is innocent and returns to the family. Joe being the only cynic is still elated to learn she lives and risks his life to see she stays alive.-------

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    I love C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series.  Joe is a little unusual

    I love C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series.  Joe is a little unusual from most adventure heroes that are found in most books of this day and time.....he has a wife that he loves and two daughters that he cares deeply about.  Joe is truly a good  guy, not a goody two shoes but someone with his priorities in the right place.  Joe is a game warden in Wyoming and the plots are sat in the outdoors of the Rocky Mountains. The books are filled with adventure and twists that keep you reading. Below Zero is no exception.  

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  • Posted April 7, 2014

    Love

    C J Box is my new favorite author. I LOVE the Joe Pickett series.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Another great Joe Pickett story

    Starts fast and keeps moving. Recommended

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Zero

    Good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Zero

    So how r u

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Can't beat Joe Pickett

    Excellent as always.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Enjoyable reading. Good twists to the plot

    An interesting concept of todays world. Has a good thought process and keeps ones interest. Good conclusion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    CJ Box is great!!

    I love all CJ Box books!! I will read and continue to buy all of his books as long as he writes them.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Have always like CJ Box, but

    This is a pretty mundane novel. I can see why he has branched out to stand alone books. I always buy his books, but I will probably check out from the library from now on

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    Joe Picket Series is Great

    I have enjoyed all of his books in the series and he has obviously left us with a cliff hanger. While not a book club selection this time, we did read the first of the series. I will share the book with others members. Great series. Being from Nebraska, I can see the areas he writes about and feel like I am there.

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not his best work

    Box is an uneven author. Some of his books (Blue Heaven) shine, others drag. This one drags. The plot feels contrived. What rational lawman would take his daughter on a search for a killer? The set ups are strained, the coincidences unbelieveable.
    All in all not a very good novel. Let's hope his next one improves.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    Love CJ Box - he's a great writer

    I am hooked on this author. His books are exciting and an excellent read. I am a proud owner of one of every book he has written.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    CJ Box has another hit!

    We love CJ Box's books as they all seem to interconnect to keep the plot going from one book to another. There is no real vulgar language or sexual scenes in the book, so even teens could read this and catch the excitement in the book without having to give it an adult rating! CJ Box ranks up there with Tony Hillerman in giving you mystery and thrills but uses common everyday situations.
    Joe and Mary Beth are at their best and Sheridan and Lucy give it their all too! Who would think that the name April would come back into play! If you love the great outdoors and mystery--you will love the CJ Box books. Start with the first one so you don't miss a thing!

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  • Posted June 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Box keeps getting better

    This book was so good I had to pace myself, C.J. Box just keeps getting better.
    Cannot wait for the next Joe Picket book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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