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Breaking Point

by C. J. Box

Series: Joe Pickett (13)

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6814330,720 (4.09)30
Joe Pickett investigates the disappearance of a local businessman, who recently had his intended retirement property declared wetlands and is suspected in the murder of two EPA employees.
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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
This was an excellent adventure mystery. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read it out of order. Somehow I thought it was the second book in the series, but it is the 13th. More background on the character development would have been nice. However, I still love the Wyoming wilderness and small town setting, and the good strong people who inhabit it. Great writing, good story. Now to seek out book #2. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
I have read a couple of Joe Pickett novels and enjoyed them. This one, however, is awful. A trite plot twist, a not believable motive, the ubiquitous modern deus ex machina of the computer hacker, and a "jump the shark" use of a Hellfire missile.
Box seems to have run out of creative gas. ( )
  rhbouchard | Aug 26, 2022 |
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
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WHAT'S BREAKING POINT ABOUT?
Acquaintance and father of one of Lucy's best friends, Butch Roberson, is in trouble—he's been being harassed by some EPA agents and they've turned up dead. Joe was the last person to see him before he became a prime suspect in their murder and a subject of a manhunt. Which, in the perverse way that only bureaucrats can think, gets him in hot water.

Joe's now tasked with helping some contractors track Butch through the wilderness—he really doesn't want to do it, and almost quits over it. But the way these guys are acting, Joe figures that he's the only one who can ensure that Butch is brought in alive and with a shot at a fair trial (especially if he can get him into local custody).

Joe's been in hazardous wilderness conditions before—regularly, from the reader's point of view—but I think it's safe to say that these are the most dangerous he's been in. And the humans (officially and unofficially) hunting for Butch are just making things worse.

Meanwhile, Marybeth is doing a little investigative work on the side for Joe while helping Butch's wife and daughter through this time. She even sends up a flare hoping to get some help from Nate Romanowski.

There's a whole lot of moving pieces in this novel, and hopefully, the Picketts and Robersons come out of things alive.

FEDERAL AGENCIES
Outside of some FBI Agents (maybe only one), people who work for the Federal Government don't come across well in these books. And Breaking Point is no exception

I don't know—and really don't care—how much of Box's own politics are reflected in these books, but he does a great job of portraying the attitudes of people in Wyoming and Idaho (not that he does a lot of Idaho work, but there's some). Federal Agents are inherently suspect and will wield their power to damage the way of life of citizens. Sure, there are exceptions, but on the whole, you can't trust them to do the right thing.

It's never comfortable reading these depictions of the Federal Government, but if nothing else, it's good to be reminded of/exposed to the way hunters/ranchers/etc.out here think of them—and why they do.

THE SUB-PLOTS
The new head of Game and Fish, Lisa Greene-Dempsey (LGD) is a more interesting foil for Joe than the previous officious penny-pinchers. She's trying to reshape the Agency in a way that Joe's not comfortable with, and she's clearly playing politics with him/his job. But the way she's going about it—with good intentions, I think—makes her a better character and gives us more interesting reactions from Joe. It's always better to have competing good intentions than having one side just out to hurt the other/improve themself alone. The whole arc there is one of the best Joe vs. The System stories Box has given us.

I don't get the Marybeth story, it fizzled on all fronts for me. If it's to underline the financial hardships the family has gone through, he's done it more effectively before. If it's laying the groundwork for something else, on the other hand, great—but I want to see it soon. Generally, Marybeth's stories are a highlight of these novels but this one fell flat for me.

While Sheridan had a pivotal part to play here, it sort of seems to me that Box doesn't know what to do with her anymore (ditto for her sisters, but Sheridan's always shown the brightest among them, so it seems worse). I really hope he does something interesting with her soon, I'm not sure how long I'd have stuck with the series if not for her early on, and I don't want to not enjoy her in the future.

THAT DEATH...
There's a significant character death that shocked me—both in the manner, the function in the story, and the fact that it happened at all. Box treated the whole thing perfectly.

I'm not going to get into details, but it was a smart, gutsy move.

HOW'S THE NARRATION?
Chandler has the characterizations down pat—every time he says something as McLanahan (and how great is it to see how things went for him between Force of Nature and this book?) I want to punch the guy in his nose. Which is more violent than I typically get, but that voice is perfectly grating—a wonderful match for McLanahan's personality.

He's great even when he doesn't irritate me—Chandler has brought this series to life, and continues that work here. Really don't have much else to say.

SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT BREAKING POINT?
There's a great call-back to Savage Run, reminding the reader just how far Joe's come, and some of the things he's pulled off in his career.

Box delivers a great thriller here, as we're used to—with some important character work for Joe—including a move that'll change his professional life forever.

It's the thirteenth book in a series, and it's really difficult to come up with something to say. The storytelling isn't getting stale, the characters are developing nicely, the premise of the novel rings true, and Box executes it well. It's an incredibly consistent series, really—not getting much better (nor does it need to), it's definitely not getting worse.

There's not much more to say—if you've liked most of the previous twelve novels (like I have), you'll like this one. If you're intrigued by the idea of a Game Warden getting involved in criminal investigations while dealing with wilderness adventures, you'll likely enjoy this one, even without the backstory.

Box knows what he's doing at this point, and even with my quibbles, I figure he's going to do something in the future to remove them. Give this one a try. ( )
  hcnewton | Aug 4, 2022 |
Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming doing his job when he learns that there has been a double homicide in his neck of the woods of two EPA agents. He isn’t a lawman who was responsible for reporting to the local sheriff but basically worked for the U.S. government bureau of land management.
In this capacity, he is brought into the investigation as a scout to lead EPA agents through the forests in order to locate the fugitive. The fugitive, Butch Roberson, happens to be the father of his youngest daughter’s best friend and whose wife is a good friend of his wife. So to Joe Pickett this is more personal than work related. He agrees to go along with the agents so that he can hopefully spare Butch Roberson’s life, since the director of the EPA in charge of the man-hunt, seems to be a bit “gung-ho” to get Butch out of the picture without the benefit of a trial.
The more Joe learns the more things don’t seem to add up in his mind. To his way of thinking, the actions of the EPA don’t sit right with Joe; so he decides to do a little digging on his own to try to learn the truth.

Using a real life legal case as a back drop to events in this book as well as inspiration for the fictional story, author C. J. Box brings to light how far federal overreach can go in this day of armed EPA agents and elite EPA swat teams. Those who believe this sort of thing can't happen would do well to do some research on the matter.

The ramifications, in reality as in fiction, are many and worth considering.
This a compelling mystery that blends fact with fiction and illustrates how things can easily spiral out of control thanks to all too powerful government bureaucrats. ( )
  Persislee | Feb 7, 2022 |
Rock solid, fascinating, exciting mystery with some good twists. One of the better entries in the Joe Pickett series. The books are always solid but some have seemed rushed, written hurriedly to meet a deadline. Happily, this one is a little longer than average, the writing is assured, and it does not suffer from feeling like a first draft. ( )
  usuallee | Oct 7, 2021 |
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Epigraph
Banality of evil: A phrase coined by philosopher Hannah Arendt that describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.
You can still get gas in Heaven, and drink in Kingdom Come, In the meantime, I'm cleaning my gun.--Mark Knopfler, "Cleaning My Gun"
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For Mike and Chantelle Sackett And Laurie, always . . .
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On an early morning in mid-August, EPA Special Agents Tim Singewald and Lenox Baker left the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency building at 1595 Wynkoop Street in downtown Denver in a Chevrolet Malibu SA hybrid sedan they'd checked out from the motor pool.
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Joe Pickett investigates the disappearance of a local businessman, who recently had his intended retirement property declared wetlands and is suspected in the murder of two EPA employees.

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