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Murder Among Friends

Our Discussion On: "Open Season" by C. J. Box

C J Box and Open Season cover graphic

MAF members ended the year with yet another hit! Box’s first Joe Pickett book, Open Season, has clearly been one of the group’s favorites in 2016. We liked the fully realized characters, the author’s obvious and deep knowledge of the terrain and current issues facing his fellow Wyoming residents. Members appreciated the way we see both sides of the coin on local environmental issues, and the way they become personalized for both the locals and the environmental politicians and powers that be – not to mention the Miller’s Weasels!

Everyone liked the way we get to see both Joe’s flaws and his strengths, and that sometimes it is his flaws that help him in (or out!) of a situation. The fact that he’s “legendary” for having had his gun taken from him, and that with a regular gun he’s a pretty poor marksman, validates how real a character he is. He is also intelligent, tenacious, and determined to do the right thing. As he himself says, his priorities are his family and his job – and the story tests him on both of these.

We loved his family. In his lowest hour, his wife shows him her absolute support for him when he thinks she’s going to tell him that they are over. His highly engaging daughter Sheridan shows great imagination and courage, and still is a very believable young girl. Even three year old Lucy shows signs of distinction and is a convincing toddler too. In the climactic scenes, we thought the author did a superior job of showing how Joe has been pushed to his limits by the traumas his family has had to face – to the point where he had absolutely no compunction about using his (very good) skills with his shotgun.

The portrayals of Vern, Barnum, Wacey, and Ote completely engaged our interest and our opinions! We found “oily” too nice a word for Wacey, and we highly enjoyed seeing Vern, Wacey, and Etbauer (the sniveling bureaucrat) get their comeuppance from Joe. That the epilogue shows some incomplete “victories” with characters and situations (particularly with the fate of the endangered species and the impact on locals) only made the book that much more plausible.

We found Open Season, to be a very high quality way to go into the Holiday Season on a high note for mystery fans. Many members plan to continue reading the series, and we hear that a film or TV series may be on the way too. 

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