Title: Off the Grid by C.J. Box
Joe Pickett Series Book Sixteen
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Length: 380 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program
New York Times–bestselling author C. J. Box returns with a suspenseful new Joe Pickett novel.
Nate Romanowski is off the grid, recuperating from wounds and trying to deal with past crimes, when he is suddenly surrounded by a small team of elite professional special operators. They’re not there to threaten him, but to make a deal. They need help destroying a domestic terror cell in Wyoming’s Red Desert, and in return they’ll make Nate’s criminal record disappear.
But they are not what they seem, as Nate’s friend Joe Pickett discovers. They have a much different plan in mind, and it just may be something that takes them all down—including Nate and Joe.
Off the Grid by C.J. Box is a terrifyingly realistic thriller that takes place in the very isolated Red Desert area in Wyoming. This sixteenth installment in the Joe Pickett series reunites Game Warden Joe Pickett with his good friend, Nate Romanowski, when their paths unexpectedly cross after the outgoing governor asks Joe to investigate the suspicious happenings in the desert.
Nate has been living completely off the grid when an unspecified government agency sends two of its agents to coerce him into finding missing journalist Muhammad “Ibby” Ibraaheem. Although Ibby’s reputation is impeccable, his disappearance nearly two years earlier certainly caught the attention of the federal government and it appears he may be involved in some type of terrorist plot. Nate wants nothing more than to be left alone, but the agents’ promise of expunging his record coupled with some very unsubtle threats convince him to accept the assignment.
Just as Joe is heading home from a long day in the field, a distress call about a rogue bear possibly attacking a hunter puts his evening plans on hold. Using info from the GPS trackers on both the hunter and the bear, his worst fears are realized when he finds the nearly dead hunter in the bear’s cache. Joe narrowly escapes the hunter’s fate when the bear returns but both he and the bear escape the encounter unscathed. With the bear’s whereabouts now unknown, he thinks outgoing Governor Spencer Rulon is planning to assign him the nearly impossible task of tracking the bear but much to his surprise, Rulon wants Joe to investigate what is going on in the Red Desert.
Neither Nate nor Joe is prepared for what is awaiting them in the desert. The conditions in the remote area are harsh and unforgiving but what they discover at Ibby’s camp ratchets the danger level into the stratosphere. Ibby’s idealistic plan is about to come to fruition but, unbeknownst to him, the other men he is working with are planning an attack so catastrophic that it is nearly incomprehensible. Nate and Joe are determined to foil the terrorist plot but they are so completely outnumbered and outgunned, they cannot help but wonder if they will escape with their lives.
With a plausible plot and plenty of action, Off the Grid by C.J. Box is a pulse-pounding thriller that is fast-paced and engrossing. The storyline is horrifyingly realistic in this post 9/11 era and the bad guys are chillingly brutal and willing to die for their cause. The beautiful yet desolate Red Desert is the ideal setting for these nefarious dealings and it is also the perfect backdrop for Joe and Nate’s final stand against the evildoers. A riveting novel of suspense, this sixteenth installment in the Joe Pickett series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series.