Category Archives: out of things to read

The Monday Book: THE DISAPPEARED by CJ Box

Paul Garrett, a regular contributor to THE MONDAY BOOK, reviews The Disappeared. It’s not his fault it’s appearing on a Tuesday.

My introduction to C. J. Box was his 2013 thriller The Highway, a book about a semi-driving serial killer. I picked up the book around ten-thirty one morning and the world stopped until 11:30 that night when my wife admonished me to put the book down and go to sleep. Since then, I have read several of his novels.  While he once produced a book about every couple of years, lately he has been pumping them out at a brisk pace, James Patterson style.

 In Disappeared, he continues the story of Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game Warden. Over the years we have become familiar with Joe, his wife, who is a librarian and sort-of silent partner in his investigations, and his two daughters, one adopted.  Along with the investigations, we have followed their personal difficulties.

Joe once again teams up with Nate Romanowski, a renegade and former special operator (think Jesse Ventura with an even bigger attitude). He once yanked the ears off a recalcitrant perp.

When A British celebrity and a fellow game warden both go missing at about the same time, the new governor sends Joe out to investigate.  Joe sets off on a search that jeopardizes his career as well as his life and that of his adopted daughter. On the trail of the missing, he crosses paths with the [PG1] standard variety of ne’er-do-wells and unique characters who populate his stories.

Like most of the Pickett stories, this is a procedural, wherein we follow Joe as he chases clues and goes down various blind alleys and switchbacks on the way to solving the crime. Picket stories take place in Northwestern Wyoming, and as usual the breathtaking and often desolate setting, brutal weather and environmentalism play important roles. Joe’s workmanlike prose gets the job done without flourish or extravagance.

The story develops like an avalanche crashing down Gannett Peak; slowly at first but gaining speed and momentum until reaching a final deadly crescendo. Though I consider myself adept at prematurely guessing the outcome of these types of stories, I was totally unprepared for the final plot twist that put everything in perspective.

The Disappeared will not disappoint C. J. Box fans. For those new to Joe Pickett, it will be a satisfying intro.


 [PG1]

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Filed under book reviews, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: FISH by L.S. Matthews

I picked up this book while on a week-long writing retreat, one evening when I couldn’t face my own writing any more. It was short, easy to read in an evening, and I stayed up and read it before bed.

LS Matthews has written a charming and deceptively simple story of Tiger, the child of foreign aid workers in a war-torn country. Tiger is the only character in the book who gets a name. The wise guide who takes the family on their harrowing journey says his name is too hard to pronounce so call him Guide. The donkey (also a major character) is Guide. And Tiger’s parents are Mom and Dad.

The country itself is not named. The novel uses childhood innocence to observe the building horror of the situation, and the difficult questions that the horror will stop for Tiger’s family but not the rest, because they are being evacuated if they can reach the airplane. Tiger wants to know what will happen to his friends. His parents try hard to soft-petal that answer, but readers get it.

A journey fraught with hardships resulting from the drought and war that ruined the country shows perils from natural to human. They cannot cross the easiest border because it is now closed to refugees. They are a target, as foreign workers, for kidnapping and ransom. And they don’t know how to navigate the mountains that separate them from the plane that will not wait, and cannot communicate with the plane.

If the book sounds dark, it isn’t. Donkey and Fish are two of the most human characters in the book; on the day they have to leave, Tiger rescues a fish from a receding mud puddle. The fish would have died, the puddle drying up and leaving him noplace to live. Fish continues to be a metaphor for the family’s survival, placed in a water bottle, and eventually…. well, you read the book. You’ll find it interesting.

Spoiler alert: the donkey makes it. :]

Although written for children, I found the simplicity of the story and the metaphor-rich writing lovely, and moving in their stark poetry. Two fins up.

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