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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

C.J. Box and the Novelist Interviews

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Today’s program features an extended interview with novelist C.J. Box, whose Joe Pickett novels are a tremendously entertaining introduction to the modern mountain west, with its variety of subcultures and high profile conflicts. (The transcript is posted here.) Each of Pickett books is a great thriller, but they all also convey enormous amounts of quality information on the controversies that define a lot of the region. Open Season, for example, is a page turner built on the federal Endangered Species Act. The ESA and related environmental statutes such as the Clean Water Act and CEQA have absorbed most of my law practice over the past two decades, so I am a difficult audience to impress when it comes to the details of the operations of the various laws, but Box learned the field and built a great story around the strange consequences of the laws’ operations.

Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Other books in the series treat the tension between development and the traditions of the region, conflicts over hunting and global warming, third generation ownership of the ranches that define the mountain states’ histories and many other “front page” controversies, and of course, Yellowstone’s volcanic past (and future?) –the subject which first brought Box and me together.

Read the Pickett novels in the order in which they are written as they occur in real time over a decade in the life of the protagonist. The sequence:

  1. Open Season (2001)
  2. Savage Run (2002)
  3. Winterkill (2003)
  4. Trophy Hunt (2004)
  5. Out of Range (2005)
  6. In Plain Sight (2006)
  7. Free Fire (2007)
  8. Blood Trail (2008)
  9. Below Zero (2009)
  10. Nowhere to Run (2010)

Pickett’s excellent Blue Heaven (2209) is a stand-alone mystery set in northern Idaho, which has won many of the key awards in the genre.

Blue Heaven

Friday’s interview is the latest in a series of long-conversations with novelists including Robert Ferrigno, Vince Flynn, Rich Lowry, Piers Paul Read, Steven Pressfield, Daniel Silva and Brad Thor. These long-form interviews are departures from the standard format, based on my belief that these authors are popular because they are tackling big issues even as they inform and entertain. Your comments on this approach and especially on the Box conversation are welcome at

The website for CJ. Box is


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