Putnam/Penguin Random House, $27.00, 371 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-17660-9
In today’s hi-tech world, it’s almost impossible to get away from all the must-see, must-have, must-buy devices that didn’t even exist as recently as fifteen or twenty years ago . . . gizmos we didn’t need or want until relentless, incessant, slick and highly persuasive advertising coupled with good old-fashioned peer pressure convinced us otherwise . . . and Apple stock went from twelve to somewhere around a thousand dollars per share before splitting. The world got wired. Now, thanks to all the above, we can know in an instant when our relatives go to dinner, buy new shoes, or capture the Pokemon in the latest idiotic game craze. We can be on the scene as the latest outrage is taking place anywhere in the world . . . and we can be tracked down and found anywhere in the world using those same high-tech tools. Who cares? If you’re an honest, hard-working, upstanding citizen who’s observing the law, who cares. There’s nothing to worry about. Unless, of course you don’t want to be found. Then it’s a brand-new and totally different equation.
Off the Grid, By C.J. Box–who’s a neighbor just a couple hundred miles north of Colorado Springs in Wyoming–addresses that very situation.
Nate Romanowski, the complicated goodguy/ badguy serial character and best friend of Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett, his wife Marybeth, and the guardian angel of the Pickett daughters, Sheridan, Lucy and April, has holed up and gone off the grid. He’s evading the authorities who want him for a series of targeted killings in Mr. Box’s last novel entitled Endangered (MBR number 209). Nate’s living in a line-shack cabin with his girlfriend, Olivia Brannan, flying his falcons, and healing up from wounds he received in a massive shootout. It’s been seven months without electricity, running water, phone service, or even trips to the store. Their shopping’s done by Dr. Bucholz, the sympathetic rancher who’s harboring Nate, and delivered by a ranch hand named Rodrigo. It’s worked so far, but when Liv finds out that her mother is dying and books a flight to Florida, Nate’s cover is blown. Federal agents show up two hours after she leaves for the Denver airport. They’re from a secret agency within the Federal Government who appear to have unlimited power, access, and a mandate from the highest levels, to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil. They need a Master Falconer. Someone who can connect with a middle-eastern man who’s also a falconer and a possible terrorist who has disappeared from their radar somewhere in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Nate can either accept the challenge, or he and Liv will be returned to prison. If he survives the mission, his record will be erased. He’ll be free.
As with all of the Pickett novels, the sense of place is exquisite, the action and plot twists are relentless, the prose is magical, and the denouement breathtaking. If you’re not already a fan of C.J. Box, you will be as soon as you read Off the Grid, or any of his previous and compelling works. I guarantee it!