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Cj Box Books In Order

Updated on May 6, 2014

What Is The Order Of The Joe Pickett Novels?

Having recently caught up with the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box, I figured that some people might be asking whether they should read the C.J. Box books in order or it really doesn't matter how you read the series.

Well, unlike many other mystery series I've read before, I think this one can be read out of order without losing a sense of what is going on with the main character. Sure, I always recommend to read the books in order even if just to follow the main protagonist as he evolves from book to book, but here you can really read them independently and still enjoy the plot.

C.J. Box has written the popular Joe Picket series, but he has also another one that he started in 2011 involving Cody Hoyt, an acoholic cop who is

Above: the latest Joe Pickett book: Breaking Point by C.J. Box

struggling to do the right thing. There are currently two books in that series, and as soon as I get to read them, I will post my reviews on them as well.

In the meantime, let's see what is the proper order of the C.J. Box books involving Joe Pickett.

Overview Of The C.J. Box Books In Order - Reading The Joe Picket Books In Chronological Order

Here is a quick overview of all the Joe Picket books in chronological order, (further down you will find also the Cody Hoyt series) for anyone who wants to tackle them from the very beginning - or maybe you've read one of the books, liked it and now you want to catch up on all the previous books. So this is where to start.

  1. Open Season - Joe Pickett #1. The book was first published in 2001. It is the very first Joe Picket novel.
  2. Savage Run - Joe Pickett #2. The second book in the Joe Pickett series was first published in 2002.
  3. Winterkill - Published in 2003, this is the 3rd book in the by now very popular series involving the game warden Joe Pickett.
  4. Trophy Hunt - Book #4 in the series was published in 2004.
  5. Out of Range - This is the fifth book in the series involving Joe Pickett. The book was published in 2005.
  6. In Plain Sight - Book #6 belonging to the Joe Picket mystery series, it was published in 2006. I like how so far the author published a book a year, without letting his fans wait too much for the next installment.
  7. Free Fire - Here is book #7, which was published in...that's right, 2007
  8. Blood Trail - The next book in the popular mystery/thriller series was published right on time in 2008.
  9. Below Zero - Book #9, published in 2009 finds again Joe Pickett fighting the threat against his family.
  10. Nowhere to Run - This is book #10, which was first published in 2010.
  11. Cold Wind - The next book in the Joe Pickett series was published in 2011. It is the 11th book.
  12. Force of Nature - Here is the book published in 2012, his 12th Joe Pickett book.
  13. Breaking Point - Currently the latest Joe Pickett novel, published this year in March. Now we have to wait another year for another installment of this great mystery series. In the meantime while waiting, why not grab one of his other books, the first in the new series called Back Of Beyond involving Cody Hoyt?

Open Season - Joe Pickett #1

Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel)

This is the very first book in the by now quite popular mystery/thriller series involving the game warden Joe Pickett.

Joe Picket is not your usual hero. He doesn't have a lot of emotional baggage, he's quite happily married with growing kids and he enjoys his work as a game warden as well.

Throughout this series when problems start, they are all related to environmental issues, to animals and of course, murders. A great start to a new great series. Recommended.


So What Is A Game Warden Anyway?

I've seen some people ask about what exactly a game warden is. Somebody even mentioned that it must be related to online gaming....

Not so at all. A game warden is actually a so called 'green worker', an employee that protects the wild life and nature. In brief: a cop who loves and protects nature.

Green Collar Jobs For The 21st Century
If you want to learn more about green jobs and green collar workers involved in protecting and saving our environment, our eco-system and the mother Nature, this page right here on Squidoo is a great start. And yes, a game warden is a green collar worker doing his part as well.

Savage Run - Joe Pickett #2

Savage Run: a Joe Pickett Novel
Savage Run: a Joe Pickett Novel

The second installment in the Joe Pickett series involving the happily married game warden finds him trying to solve the murder of an environmental activist.

If it weren't tragic, the beginning of the book could be quite funny - imagine a person getting killed by nothing else than an exploding cow...Yep, an exploding cow, you've read that right...

Joe Pickett does his regular job of patrolling the wilderness area assigned to him, checking the licenses for fishing and hunting that they're in properly order when the crime happens on his watch.

The book is quite intense with lots of twists and turns, mystery and even some thriller bits. Also a recommended reading. I liked this one better than the first novel.


Winterkill - Joe Pickett #3

Winterkill (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Winterkill (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Here is the third Joe Pickett novel which this time around involves his family, no less.

This foster daughter is kidnapped, so for Joe now this is all too personal.

This time around Joe leaves his role of game warden and becomes more like Lee Child's hero, Jack Reacher.

I loved this book, it had a much faster pace, it was a great thriller overall and the scenes described about the Wyoming wilderness in winter are simply incredible - especially for people like me who might never get to visit the US this lifetime.


Trophy Hunt - Joe Pickett #4

Trophy Hunt (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Trophy Hunt (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Here we have book #4, and this time around it is summer. Joe is enjoying his fishing trip with his daughters when he finds the corpse of a moose.

It could be a grizzly bear which is known to roam the area, but Joe has that nagging feeling that comes from years of doing his game warden job, which tells him that it might actually be a person at work...

The more he investigates, the more mutilated and disfigured corpses of animals he finds, like an entire herd of cattle.

If you're squeamish of gruesome and creepy descriptions, this book might not be for you, but if you like a good thriller with a great protagonist and lots of action, it is a book I recommend picking up.


Out of Range - Joe Pickett #5

Out of Range (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Out of Range (A Joe Pickett Novel)

The next book in the Joe Pickett series finds him trying to figure out the suicide of a friend and colleague, a fellow game warden.

He is actually in the middle of a wedding reception when the news about his friend comes through, which means leaving all behind to temporary fill in the job that has just became vacant.

And along the way he has to deal with politics, an angry wife and the fact that he's pretty much cut off from the world around him.


In Plain Sight - Joe Pickett #6

In Plain Sight (A Joe Pickett Novel)
In Plain Sight (A Joe Pickett Novel)

In Plain Sight is the 6th book in the Joe Picket series. After a heavy winter, spring has just started to show through, and Joe is happy about it.

This time around Joe is wrongly accused of having murdered the brother of J.W. Kelley and he has to find the real killer fast.

Also he gets right in the middle of a nasty family feud, and he gets a new boss who doesn't like him at all. All this is enough to make any person crazy, but Joe manages to solve the crime and come out smelling like a rose like usual.

Btw this book does leave thins with a cliffhanger at the end, so maybe this book is the exception to what I said before about not needing to read them in order. Here you might have to do it.


Free Fire - Joe Pickett #7

Free Fire: A Joe Pickett Novel
Free Fire: A Joe Pickett Novel

Joe Pickett is a game warden no more. He has been fired by his boss and now he's working at his father in law's ranch.

But of course he can't leave things behind, not when he gets a call from the governor to do some secret jobs for him as a game warden again.

So far this has been my most favorite novel involving Joe Pickett. It is a great mystery which gets a bit darker, and if you've read the C.J. Box books in order so far, it's easy to see how the writing gets just better and better with every single book.


Blood Trail - Joe Pickett #8

Blood Trail (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Blood Trail (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Joe Pickett is a game warden again, but this time his employer is the governor himself, who asked Joe to work for him in the previous installment of the series.

Here we find him working to solve the murder of an elk hunter. There have been several hunters killed recently, which means that a serial killer is on the loose.

Here is again a novel with some vivid descriptions of the killed hunters, who are treated just like the animals they hunt.

Here we also see how Joe is more and more apart from his family who lives in the town and no longer at the warden house. He is a game warden, but his assignments are no longer tied to a particular area, which means that Joe has to go wherever he is needed, even if that means miles away from his family.

A great 8th book which is well worth reading.


Below Zero - Joe Pickett #9

Below Zero (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Below Zero (A Joe Pickett Novel)

This book definitely has lots of twists and turns. April, his foster daughter who has been killed several years ago, is apparently alive and sending text messages to one of his daughters.

Now the whole family is torn apart by the thought of April actually being alive and if she really is, she needs help.

Here is another book that should be read in order - or at least you should read Winterkill before this one so it all makes sense much easier.


Nowhere to Run - Joe Pickett #10

Nowhere to Run (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Nowhere to Run (A Joe Pickett Novel)

The next book in the series finds Joe spending his last week working as a temp game warden away from home. He is soon to return, but before doing so he needs to solve yet another case.

This time the case involves him personally. He is shot at, his horses are killed, and he loses all his gear too. And of course, the authorities don't believe him when he points the finger at the Camish and Caleb twin brothers.

Actually this is another book that should be read in the proper chronological order, since you might find it all confusing if you just jump in the middle Why is Joe exiled and what is going on with his family back home?

A great read, especially if you've read the series in order.


Cold Wind - Joe Pickett #11

Cold Wind (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Cold Wind (A Joe Pickett Novel)

Cold Wind is the next installment in the Joe Picket series, the 11th book actually.

Here again it is all personal with Joe who's father in law has been murdered and his wife Missy has been arrested for it.

In fact Missy is guilty of shooting her husband (she's been portrayed as evil throughout the series),

But then at the trial things change and Missy goes free. Without giving away more of the plot, let's just say that there are some awesome twists and turns that keep you turning the pages one after another.


Force of Nature - Joe Pickett #12

Force of Nature (Joe Pickett)
Force of Nature (Joe Pickett)

Force of Nature is a very recent book by C. J. Box, having it published in 2012.

Here we meet Nate Romanowski, a friend of Joe's who is in trouble. Nate did appear in previous novels as well, but there was never so much emphasis on this character as much as it was here. In fact pretty much the whole book evolves around him and the danger he puts unwillingly Joe's family in because he is hunted due to a secret that can kill anyone who learns about it.

A great read, even though Joe was kind of less in the spotlight. You find yourself turning the pages fast and before you know it, the book is over. A great thriller.


Breaking Point - Joe Pickett #13

Breaking Point (A Joe Pickett Novel)
Breaking Point (A Joe Pickett Novel)

So far this is the latest Joe Pickett book, published in March 2013. Now we have to wait another year for another book in the series...

Butch Roberson's daughter is a friend of Joe's daughter and the men are also neighbors. Butch tells Joe he goes hunting, but as he finds out soon enough, Butch actually is running from the law enforcement, as he is suspected of killing two EPA employees.

The more Joe looks into it all the more complex becomes the web of intrigue surrounding the case and Joe is now wondering why whoever is after Butch doesn't want to catch him - but to kill him.


Two Short Stories In The Joe Pickett Series

Only published as eBooks

Here are two novellas in the same series which are quite short, so I didn't add them to the regular list of books, but they are worth mentioning if you like this series. They are cheaper of course, and you can't find them in paperback. You do need a Kindle or another eBook reader to grab these books.


The Master FalconerCHECK PRICE

The Cody Hoyt Series

The New Series By C. J. Box Involving Cody Hoyt

Granted, I haven't read this series yet, but I'm getting the two books soon so I'll post proper reviews once I've read them. There are only two books currently in the Cody Hoyt series, so they will get read pretty fast.

Back of Beyond: A Novel (Cody Hoyt)
Back of Beyond: A Novel (Cody Hoyt)

This is the first book in the new Cody Hoyt series, published in 2011. The series involves the alcoholic cop Cody Hoyt who used to be great at his job before the alcohol got the better of him. He lost his job, his family and it seems his life is going downwards fast as well.

A great premise for a great start of a mystery series.

The Highway: A Novel (Highway Quartet)
The Highway: A Novel (Highway Quartet)

This book will be released in June this year, so I'll have the time to read the first one before the second one is out.


Should One Read The C. J. Box Books In Order?

Should One Read The C. J. Box Books In Order?

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Have You Read Any C. J. Box Books?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      No but I always love a good mystery!

    • Camden1 profile image


      5 years ago

      I haven't ready any CJ Box books, but your descriptions make me think they are a series that I would enjoy!


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