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Breaking Point
Cover of Breaking Point
Breaking Point
Joe Pickett Series, Book 13
by C. J. Box
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett's hunt for a fugitive reveals a conspiracy in this taut thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Joe Pickett always liked Butch Roberson—a hardworking local business-owner whose daughter is friends with his own. Little does he know that when Butch says he is heading into the mountains to scout elk, he is actually going on the run.
Two EPA employees have been murdered, and all signs point to Butch as the killer. Soon, Joe hears of the land Butch and his wife had bought to retire on—until they are told the EPA declared it a wetland—and the penalties they charged Butch until the family was torn apart by debt. Finally, it seems, the man just cracked.
It's an awful story. But is it the whole story? The more Joe investigates, the more he begins to wonder—and the more he finds himself in the middle of a war in which he must choose sides.
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett's hunt for a fugitive reveals a conspiracy in this taut thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Joe Pickett always liked Butch Roberson—a hardworking local business-owner whose daughter is friends with his own. Little does he know that when Butch says he is heading into the mountains to scout elk, he is actually going on the run.
Two EPA employees have been murdered, and all signs point to Butch as the killer. Soon, Joe hears of the land Butch and his wife had bought to retire on—until they are told the EPA declared it a wetland—and the penalties they charged Butch until the family was torn apart by debt. Finally, it seems, the man just cracked.
It's an awful story. But is it the whole story? The more Joe investigates, the more he begins to wonder—and the more he finds himself in the middle of a war in which he must choose sides.
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  • From the book

    Also by C. J. Box

    Title Page

    Copyright

    Dedication

    Epigraph

    DAY ONE

    Chapter 1

    DAY TWO

    Chapter 2

    Chapter 3

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 7

    Chapter 8

    DAY THREE

    Chapter 9

    Chapter 10

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 12

    Chapter 13

    Chapter 14

    Chapter 15

    Chapter 16

    Chapter 17

    Chapter 18

    Chapter 19

    Chapter 20

    Chapter 21

    Chapter 22

    Chapter 23

    Chapter 24

    DAY FOUR

    Chapter 25

    Chapter 26

    Chapter 27

    Chapter 28

    Chapter 29

    Chapter 30

    Chapter 31

    Chapter 32

    Chapter 33

    Chapter 34

    ONE WEEK AFTER

    Chapter 35

    Chapter 36

    Chapter 37

    Afterword and Acknowledgments

    1

    ON AN EARLY MORNING IN MID-AUGUST, EPA SPECIAL Agents Tim Singewald and Lenox Baker left the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency building at 1595 Wynkoop Street in downtown Denver in a Chevrolet Malibu SA hybrid sedan they'd checked out from the motor pool. Singewald was at the wheel, and he maneuvered through shadows cast by tall buildings while Baker fired up the dash-mounted GPS.

    "Acquiring satellites," Baker said, repeating the voice command from the unit.

    "Wait until we get out of downtown," Singewald said. "The buildings block the satellite feed. There'll be plenty of time to program the address. Besides, I know where we're going. I've been there, remember?"

    "Yeah," Baker said, settling back in his seat. "I know. I was just wondering how long it would take."

    "Forever," Singewald said, and sighed, taking the turn on Speer that would lead them to I-25 North. "Wyoming is a big-ass state."

    The GPS chirped that it had connected with the sky. Baker punched in an address and waited for a moment and said with a groan, "Four hundred and twenty-two miles. Six hours, twenty-seven minutes. Jesus."

    Said Singewald, "Not counting the guy we need to pick up along the way in Cheyenne. Still, we ought to make it before five, easy."

    "Where are we staying? Do they have any good places to eat up there?"

    Singewald emitted a single harsh bark and shook his head. "The Holiday Inn has a government rate, but the bar sucks. There are a couple good bars in town, though, if you don't mind country music."

    "I hate it."

    "Six and a half hours," Baker said as Singewald eased the Chevy onto the on-ramp and joined the flow of traffic north.

    IT WAS A CLEAR summer morning in mid-August. The mountains to the west shimmered through early-hour smog that would lift and dissipate when the temperature rose into the seventies. Both men wore ties and sport coats, and in the backseat was a valise containing the legal documents they were to deliver. Both had packed a single change of clothing for the drive back the next day.

    Tim Singewald had thin sandy hair, small eyes, a sallow complexion, and a translucent mustache. Lenox Baker was fifteen years younger. Singewald didn't know him well at all, although his impression of his colleague was that he was overeager. Baker was dark and compact and exhibited nervous energy and a wide-eyed expression he displayed when talking with a senior staffer that said, Keep me in mind when promotions or transfers come along.

    Singewald noticed that Baker wore a wedding band, but he'd never heard the wife's name. Singewald had been divorced for six years.

    All he knew about Baker was, like thousands of others across the...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 21, 2013
    Bureaucracy run amok drives Wyoming construction company owner Butch Roberson to the breaking point in Box’s excellent 13th Joe Pickett novel (after 2012’s Force of Nature). When game warden Pickett investigates a cut fence between private land and public land, he comes across Roberson, who says he entered the public land to scout elk. Before leaving, Pickett delivers a friendly warning to Roberson, who resents the laws restricting his access to public land, to repair the fence. Later, Pickett learns that Roberson is the prime suspect in the killing of two armed EPA agents. Vindictive EPA regional director Juan Julio Batista, who quickly arrives on the scene, calls in a lot of manpower, while Pickett leads a team on horseback into the mountains after Roberson. Former sheriff Kyle McLanahan goes gunning for Roberson, too, prompted by hopes of a reward. Thrilling wilderness chases, chilling stories of the abuse of power, and Pickett’s indomitable frontier spirit power this explosive novel. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2013
    Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett, who attracts trouble the way carcasses attract maggots (Force of Nature, 2012, etc.), gets in the line of fire between an old friend and the Feds. When two EPA agents, sent all the way from Denver to take contractor Butch Roberson into custody. are shot to death, Butch himself is the obvious suspect. But Joe, who saw Butch only hours before he disappeared, can't help wondering why the EPA was so interested in Butch, whose attempt to build a new house for his family in Aspen Highlands blew up in his face, and why the new, race-baiting EPA regional director Juan Julio Batista has taken such a personal interest in the case. Joe has no time for any speculations, though, before he's pressed into service to lead an ill-equipped EPA party searching for Butch up the mountain where he was last seen. Little does Joe know that he's not the only one on the hunt. His old nemesis, ex-Sheriff Kyle McLanahan, has heard the rumor of a big reward for bringing in Butch and has gotten Dave Farkus, a clueless employee Butch fired, to lead him and Jimmy Sollis, the no-account brother of slain deputy Trent Sollis, to Butch first. Box doles out complications and misfortunes with masterly control; each time you're convinced things can't get any worse for Butch or Joe, they do, usually in unexpected ways. And every twist tightens the analogy between the shiftless vigilantes after Butch and the Feds determined to capture or kill him, two parties that are not only equally villainous, but villainous in exactly the same way. Its basis in a real-life conflict makes Joe's 13th case one of his most tendentious, but it's Box who makes it one of his most exciting.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2013

    In his 13th outing (after Force of Nature), the Wyoming game warden must weigh his devotion to law enforcement versus his personal values and integrity. This conflict is ignited by the murder of two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agents, the flight of accused murderer Butch Roberson, and the reappearance of Joe's old nemesis, ex-Sheriff McLanahan. Joe faces powerful forces who want Roberson dead and his family ruined, while the feds use all resources at their command, including unmanned drones, during the ensuing manhunt. Relying on reason and his strong will, Joe unravels the complicated puzzle and finds corruption and abuse of authority that cause him to re-evaluate his life. VERDICT Like the forest fire described in the book, fans of this series will burn through the pages to discover who-dun-it and why. With each book, Joe Pickett has evolved as a complex, deep character, richly described by Box. Another must-read.--Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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