“Shadows Reel” is book twenty-two in the “Joe Pickett” series, but each person is introduced within the context of the current narrative, so all readers immediately know the characters and are pulled into the story. Joe Pickett and his family have grown, changed, and aged over the books as real people are wont to do. All the characters are complex with real jobs and real life problems. They have depth, purpose, and go the distance of the story. As this book opens, Pickett has not yet had the stitches removed from his injuries in the previous book and has residual aches and pains and a limp from a previous bullet wound in his leg. He finds all of this annoying.
The story begins on Thanksgiving Day, and it will soon be the worst Thanksgiving that Joe Pickett has ever had. This is rural Wyoming, after all; people should be enjoying themselves, hunting, fishing, basking in the wonders of nature, or reading books. There should not be stolen birds, Nazi memorabilia, or tanks, and multiple murders are definitely undesirable. Separate storylines unfold concurrently, and events are complex and complicated. The action is told from several points of view, so readers know things that other participants do not yet realize.
Box’s vivid details and descriptions push readers into the narrative. Sunlight streams through cloud holes to bathe sections of the timber in bronze light. Mature river cottonwoods are still blazing yellow and red with fall colors. People approach the back door of the ranch house slightly from the side, moving from Russian olive bush to Russian olive bush. A strange man leaves a package at the library, not a book exactly, but a very odd leather-bound binder.
“Shadows Reel” is a compelling story with drama, action and intrigue within the context of a naturally beautiful setting. I received a review copy of “Shadows Reel” from C.J. Box, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Penguin Random House Publishing. I recommend the entire “Joe Pickett” series; the books do not have to be read in order, so just pick up any of them. They are all compelling and entertaining