Off the Grid by C.J. Box

Publication Info: Published March 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.  Kindle edition, checked out of my local library. Off the Grid is #16 in the Joe Pickett series.Off the Grid

I’m almost caught up with this series. Actually, I’ll be sad when I get to # 19, Wolf Pack, which is Box’s latest entry in the series, because then I’ll have to wait until he writes and publishes the next one!

Governor Rulon’s time in office is about to end, but he sends Joe out on one more mission — to find out what’s going on out in the Red Desert area of Wyoming. Much to Joe’s surprise, the Governor wants him to find his old friend, Nate, to help with this mission.  Meanwhile, Sheridan, the usually predictably good daughter, gets herself into a bit of a mess right smack in the middle of the problems in the Red Desert, requiring Nate to come to her rescue. Without giving too much away, it was good to see  Nate finally get a bit of a break in this book. The poor guy has been on the run since book 3, Winterkill.

C.J. Box was in Denver at The Tattered Cover autographing books, which I unfortunately just missed in the midst of my move here. He does come here now and then, so I hope to catch him next time!

Highly recommended for mystery fans and those who like stories set in the west.

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy

Publication Date:March 19th 2014 by Henery Press

Summary: Zoe Chambers was at the town council meeting on a snowy night because her EMS partner Earl enjoyed witnessing town politics.  The crowded space, filled to capacity with town residents, was in an uproar. The chairman, Jerry McBirney, was making various demands like an angry despot and his cronies supported him. But when McBirney demanded that grandmotherly Sylvia Bassi be arrested for the theft of an old computer, the townspeople were appalled. Zoe’s friend, police chief Pete Adams, stepped in to try to settle the issue. Sylvia was the the police department’s secretary.Circle of Influence

Sylvia’s son, Ted, her daughter-in-law, Rose and her teenaged grandchildren Logan and Allison, all witnessed McBirney’s tirade against Mrs. Bassi. Zoe did what she could for Sylvia, too, as Rose was her best friend. Pete wondered why McBirney was in such an uproar over a computer that had been abandoned for a long time.

Shortly after this incident, Ted Bassi was found murdered in Jerry McBirney’s car. Initial evidence pointed to McBirney as the killer, but as Pete and Zoe dug deeper, the conclusions became murkier. Another body is soon found and another member of the Bassi family disappears. Someone is determined to see that Zoe doesn’t discover the truth.

Comments:  I discovered Circle of Influence on a list of finalists for the Agatha Award for First Novel.  When I started reading it, I expected a high-end cozy–in part because of the cover art. I was pleasantly surprised that there was much more to it. Although some of the characters were too predictable, not all were, and the book was well plotted. I look forward to reading more in the Zoe Chambers series.

Recommended for general mystery readers.


The Dream Stalker by Margaret Coel

Publication Date: October 1997 by The Berkley Publishing Group

Summary: The people on the Wind River Reservation struggle financially. Most of the Northern Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone barely eke out a living. Father John O’Malley, who runs the St. Francis Mission, struggles right along with them. When the United Power Company comes along and promises an influx of much needed cash in exchange for storing some nuclear waste in “safe containers” on the reservation, most of the people jump at the glib promises.Dream Stalker

But there are enough dissenting voices to concern the UPC. Their representatives approach Father O’Malley and ask him to support their cause. They know he has a lot of influence in the community. One of the most vocal protestors is a woman named Vicky Holden. Vicky grew up on the reservation, but is now an attorney living in the nearby town. More educated about the hazards than most, she is fiercely and vocally against the UPC’s plan. This puts her at odds not only with UPC, but also with many in the Native community who want to have a better standard of living for themselves and the generations to come.

After Father O’Malley finds a murdered man and Vicky receives death threats, it is obvious that someone will stop to nothing to get the UPC plan approved.

Comments: After I got about a third of the way through this book, I realized this is the one in the series I’d read before, back when it was first published. At the time, I wasn’t very impressed and didn’t read any more of the series. Then, while browsing in my local library several months ago, I came across the second in the series, Ghost Walker, and picked it up. I really liked that book, so picked up the third. I still can’t say I love this one, and I didn’t like it as much as Ghost Walker, but I think that’s partly because it lacked some subtlety in the “evil corporation” lesson.

However, the book did get me to do some research online on the Wind River Reservation. And I’m looking forward to reading more in the series to learn about Coel’s characters as well as the realities of reservation life.

Recommended for mystery readers and anyone interested in learning more about present-day Native American life.