Skip to main content

The Disappeared: A Joe Pickett Novel


The Disappeared: A Joe Pickett Novel

THE DISAPPEARED, the latest in the Joe Pickett series, is simply the greatest. C. J. Box has created in Pickett, a Wyoming game warden, an unassuming, very real American hero of (barely) above-average skills and superior character, who deals with the concerns of the average person --- family, food, shelter, job, job and job --- with an awareness of his limitations that does not prevent him from utilizing to the utmost those skills that he possesses.

The driving news in THE DISAPPEARED is that Pickett’s good relationship with the governor’s office has come to an end. Colter Allen, the newly inaugurated governor, and Connor Hanlon, his chief of staff, are not exactly warm and fuzzy toward Pickett. They inexplicably give him a new assignment that is somewhat above his pay grade. Pickett receives word of this when he is summarily summoned to a remote airfield on a cold January morning to meet with Allen and Hallon. The subject of the assignment is Kate Shelford-Longden, the CEO of a well-known and high-powered British advertising agency. Shelford-Longden disappeared during the previous summer while vacationing in Wyoming at the Silver Creek Ranch, where she was last seen leaving to make a four-hour drive to the airport. Neither she nor her rental car has been seen in the intervening months.

"Every word of THE DISAPPEARED is wonderful.... Box’s clean, cold prose compels you to love the Wyoming countryside as much as he does, whether or not you’re an outdoors person. But it’s his character development that makes the book a winner."

Pickett knows the ranch, given that Sheridan, his oldest daughter, is taking a gap year to work there, following her graduation from the University of Wyoming. He can’t figure out why the governor has picked him out of all the law enforcement personnel in Wyoming to conduct the investigation. When Pickett starts sifting around, he finds that all those who investigated before him have resigned just when they seem close to getting an answer.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office appears to be more interested in impeding the investigation than aiding it. Nate Romanowski, Pickett’s old friend, shows up as well, but he is not there to help. Rather, he is seeking assistance with a matter involving falconers, who are inexplicably being blocked from engaging in a perfectly legal activity. Nate has an idea as to what is going on, but Pickett isn’t sure if his unconventional friend is a genius or is paranoid. Actually, he is a bit of both, but it takes a while for Pickett and the reader to find out why.

A lot of what is occurring has to do with the dramatic vignette that opens THE DISAPPEARED, which involves a sawdust burner that is being put to some extracurricular use during the late-night hours. Pickett isn’t the sharpest blade in the drawer, but he is a persistent and an honorable one. Longtime readers of the series will know walking in that the governor may have picked the wrong game warden if he wanted somebody who would come up empty-handed. Pickett solves not just one mystery --- with a major assist from Sheridan --- but also another that wasn’t on the agenda.

Every word of THE DISAPPEARED is wonderful. It never lags or disappoints. Box’s clean, cold prose compels you to love the Wyoming countryside as much as he does, whether or not you’re an outdoors person. But it’s his character development that makes the book a winner. He plays a neat trick here with Pickett who, near the end, is probably at his lowest point ever. Just when the reader thinks there is no way that Pickett is going to resolve his problems, a savior --- part deus ex machina, part guardian angel --- unexpectedly appears on the scene. As far as I’m concerned, the next book in the series cannot come soon enough.

Oh, and one other thing, CJB: That “hospital” thing bugs the heck out of me as well, but is one of many reasons that I strongly recommend THE DISAPPEARED.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 29, 2018

The Disappeared: A Joe Pickett Novel
by C. J. Box

  • Publication Date: January 29, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525535888
  • ISBN-13: 9780525535881