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A Different Kind of Detective

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With crime fiction writer C.J. Box




“When ranch owner Opal Scarlett vanished, no one mourned except her three grown sons, Arlen, Hank, and Wyatt, who expressed their loss by getting into a fight with shovels.

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett almost didn’t hear the call over his radio when it came over the mutual-aid channel. ”

From C.J. Box’s most recent novel, In Plain Sight.

If you haven’t read C.J. Box’s crime novels featuring his Wyoming-based game warden detective Joe Pickett, you’re missing a real treat. As Box says, “Game wardens are unique because they can legitimately be involved in just about every major event or situation that involves the outdoors and the rough edges of the rural new west. ” And situations there are in Box’s books aplenty…including murder.

C. J. Box is the author of eight novels including the award-winning Joe Pickett series. He’s the winner of the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre 38 (France), the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award, and an Edgar Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. His novels have been cited by the New York Times (2001 Notable Book), Booksense 76, People, Booklist, and many others. His short stories have been featured in America’s Best Mystery Stories 2006 and limited-edition printings. The novels have been national bestsellers and have been translated into 12 languages.

Free Fire (A Joe Pickett Novel) will be published by Penguin/Putnam in May of 2007, and Blue Heaven will be published by St. Martins Press in October, 2007.

Box is a Wyoming native and has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, and small-town newspaper reporter and editor, and he co-owns an international tourism marketing firm with his wife, Laurie. An avid outdoorsman, Box has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

Box lives with his family outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Join C.J. Box and host Paula B. for a fascinating discussion about Joe Pickett, writing crime and mystery stories, and the mountain west, including:

  • How he came up with his game warden “detective,” Joe Pickett
  • How Joe Pickett differs from other crime fiction protagonists
  • How the landscape of Wyoming shapes his characters and stories
  • Why he doesn’t think his books fall into the “mystery” category, and how he would characterize them
  • How he approaches dropping hints and clues
  • What characteristics make for the best detectives and mystery stories
  • How he approaches writing his villains
  • How he deals with the challenges of writing a series, like back story, continuity, character fatigue, etc.
  • What he finds most difficult about writing
  • How he feels about being compared to New Mexico crime fiction writer Tony Hillerman
  • How he depicts regional issues like energy development, the environment, and so on
  • Why he started writing novels
  • What he wishes more people would ask him about.

Interviewee: C. J. Box
Host: Paula B
Date: October 16, 2006
Running time: 56:26
File size: 41 megabytes
Rating: The interview is rated G. The trailer after the interview is rated PG.
C. J. Box’s Web site:

Purchase C. J. Box’s gripping books from