Box, C.J.

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Box, C.J.


Born in Casper, WY; married; wife's name Laurie; children: Molly, Becky, Roxanne. Education: University of Denver, 1981.


Home—Cheyenne, WY. Office—Rocky Mountain International, P.O. Box 5031, 1815 Evans Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82003. Agent—Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency, 30 Bond St., New York, NY 10012. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Wyoming Travel Commission, former manager of travel development; Rocky Mountain International Corporation, CEO, and president. Worked briefly as a ranch hand, exploration survey-crew member, fishing guide, and newspaper reporter and editor. Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, member board of directors.


Notable Book Award, New York Times, for Open Season, 2001; Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Mystery Writers of America, for Open Season; Gumshoe First-Novel Mystery Award; Anthony Award; Prix Calibre 38 (France); the Macavity Award.


Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho Travel-Smart, John Muir (Santa Fe, NM), 1998.

Blue Heaven, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Open Season, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.

Savage Run, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.

Winterkill, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.

Trophy Hunt, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Out of Range, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.

In Plain Sight, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.

Free Fire, G.P. Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of short stories to America's Best Mystery Stories 2006.


C.J. Box, a native of Wyoming, is best known for his crime fiction series featuring the Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. The Pickett books have been praised by fellow crime writers and critics alike, and have garnered Box an impressive array of awards. Box is also president and chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain International, a company that promotes tourism to Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho from Europe. According to the C.J. Box Home Page, Box "knows Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West intimately, and writes from that perspective."

Box's Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho Travel-Smart is a guidebook for visitors to those states. Box offers tips on sightseeing, recreation, lodging, dining, nightlife, and more. Also included are suggested itineraries.

Box's first novel, Open Season, was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2001 and was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel. In Open Season Wyoming game warden and family man Joe Pickett investigates the murder of three hunters. One hunter, who appeared to be delivering something to Pickett before his death, was found in Pickett's yard. The other two were found at their hunting camp along with the murderer, who was apparently killed in a gunfight with the hunters. Pickett finds himself investigating a mystery involving the murders, an oil company, and the endangered animals he tries to protect. "Wyoming first-novelist Box remains square on target throughout this superb debut," praised Bill Ott in a Booklist review.

Pickett is back in Box's second novel. In Savage Run, Stewie Woods, a famous radical environmentalist, and his new wife, are spending their honeymoon in Wyoming. After driving spikes into trees to discourage loggers, they are blown up by an exploding cow while cutting through a field. Soon, more radical environmentalists are turning up dead through a string of similar murders. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted: "This fine follow-up reinforces Box's status as a first-class talent." BookBrowser Web site contributor Harriet Klausner commented: "Box is a talented writer who takes his audience out of the typical suspense thriller box."

Box's third Joe Pickett mystery, Winterkill, was released in 2003. Once again, Box creates an issue-oriented novel, this time dealing with survivalists and illegal hunting. When Pickett finds the body of a federal bureaucrat pinned to a tree with two arrows and his throat cut, the game warden figures it may be the work of a local hunter. But the FBI has different ideas, for a survivalist group called the Nation of Sovereign Citizens has moved into the campgrounds of the national forest and the feds think this is another potential Waco or Ruby Ridge situation. Pickett has to find his perpetrator quickly before another tragic confrontation and shootout ensues. Rebecca House Stankowski, writing in Library Journal, praised the "rough-and-tumble action" in this third series installment. Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews critic commended the "nonstop action and [Box's] ability to see every side of the most divisive issues in the West." Though a Publishers Weekly contributor complained of "two-dimensional" characters, the same reviewer did note that the "description of the harsh yet splendid Wyoming landscape is vivid and memorable, [and Box's] handling of complex social issues [is] evenhanded and unsentimental."

The fourth novel in the series, Trophy Hunt, takes as its central issue animal mutilations. When Pickett investigates a series of such crimes, the locals begin to wonder if UFOs are involved, but the game warden finds a much more mundane culprit in this "superb" series addition, as Booklist contributor Keir Graff termed the novel. A Publishers Weekly contributor had a similar appraisal, concluding: "this skillfully crafted page-turner should have wide appeal." Box followed this up with his 2005 novel, Out of Range, in which Box is dispatched to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to investigate the supposed suicide of a friend and fellow game warden. Pickett quickly begins to doubt that the death was a suicide as he comes up against a developer eager to create a sort of spa for the super-rich where they can commune with the animals they will later eat. Graff, writing in Booklist, thought that Box keeps "getting better" with his series, as "he strides a Teton-sharp line between the hard-boiled ethos … and a western sensibility." For Teresa L. Jacobsen, writing in Library Journal, Out of Range is a "Western lover's mystery, relying heavily on guns and honor." Higher praise came from a Kirkus Reviews critic who felt this fifth novel in the series is the "best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must."

Back at his home in Saddlestring, Wyoming, for In Plain Sight, Joe finds himself the potential prey for an ex-con with a grudge (a character from Winterkill). He must also deal with squabbling sons, heirs to a wealthy ranching family, and with his boss. Though Graff, writing in Booklist, thought this work "lacks the intensity and inventiveness of the previous books," other reviewers had a higher assessment. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called this sixth installment "sprightly," and Jo Ann Vicarel, writing in Library Journal, commented that Box "writes edge-of-the-chair suspense; his prose sings with energy and heart-stopping action." Vicarel termed In Plain Sight an "unforgettable mystery." And a critic for Kirkus Reviews concluded: "Box continues to write the sharpest suspensers west of the Pecos."

Box told CA: "I have a background in journalism and have always tried to read novels written about or set within Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain west. I was troubled that so many novels (although many brilliantly written) didn't seem to get the state and region ‘right’ from my standpoint and my motivation was to write novels from the inside-out, from a point-of-view of a novelist who grew up there. I also wanted to tell stories that presented a balanced view of contemporary environmental and cultural issues."



Bloomsbury Review, September, 1998, April Leo, review of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho Travel-Smart, p. 25.

Booklist, May 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of Open Season, p. 1622; May 1, 2004, Keir Graff, review of Trophy Hunt, p. 1502; May 1, 2005, Keir Graff, "This Cowboy Has Issues," p. 1520, review of Out of Range, p. 1520; May 1, 2006, Keir Graff, review of In Plain Sight, p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Savage Run, p. 614; April 15, 2003, review of Winterkill, p. 573; June 1, 2004, review of Trophy Hunt, p. 518; April 1, 2005, review of Out of Range, p. 386; March 15, 2006, review of In Plain Sight, p. 263; February 1, 2007, review of Free Fire, p. S7.

Library Journal, April 15, 2003, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Winterkill, p. 130; May 1, 2005, Teresa L. Jacobsen, review of Out of Range, p. 67; May 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of In Plain Sight, p. 67.

Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2001, Eugene Weber, review of Open Season, p. 9.

New York Times Book Review, May 18, 2003, Marilyn Stasio, review of Winterkill; May 8, 2005, Marilyn Stasio, review of Out of Range, p. 23.

People, July 1, 2002, Edward Karam, review of Savage Run, p. 41; July 19, 2004, Edward Karam, review of Trophy Hunt, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of Savage Run, p. 50; April 7, 2003, review of Winterkill, p. 49; June 21, 2004, review of Trophy Hunt, p. 46; April 11, 2005, review of Out of Range, p. 37; March 20, 2006, review of In Plain Sight, p. 37.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 22, 2001, review of Open Season, p. 3.

Washington Post Book World, July 29, 2001, Katy Munger, review of Open Season, p. 13.


BookBrowser, (August 28, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Savage Run.

Booklist Online, (August 28, 2002), Bill Ott, review of Savage Run.

BookPage Online, (August 28, 2002), Bruce Tierney, "Mystery Is a Home on the Range with Wyoming Writer C.J. Box.", (April 6, 2007), Joe Hartlaub, review of In Plain Sight.

Deadly Pleasures, (August 28, 2002), Russ Isabella, review of Open Season.

Denver Post Online, (August 28, 2002), Leslie Doran, "A Hero for Game Wardens."

Mystery Ink, (August 28, 2002), review of Open Season.

New York Times Online, (August 27, 2002), Charles Wilson, "Savage Run: The Mystery of the Exploding Cow."

Official C.J. Box Web site, (April 23, 2007).

Overbooked, (August 28, 2002), Pam Spencer Holley, review of Savage Run.

Star Tribune Online (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN), (August 28, 2002), John Freeman, review of Savage Run.

Watermark, (August 28, 2002), Bruce Jacobs, review of Open Season.

Wyoming Authors Wiki, (April 6, 2007), "C.J. Box."