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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

C.J. Box’s Hot New Thriller, “Below Zero”

Also: Wade Rouse brings his rustic tales to Milwaukee

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We've all come across them, in the headlines or in person: activists whose passion for a cause borders on obsession. In Below Zero, C.J.Box's new thriller in the popular Joe Pickett series, the author ventures into the provocative territory of activism gone awry.

When a large man bearing a warm and reassuring disposition lumbers into a couple's RV, little do they suspect he's being goaded on by his overzealous, environmentalist son to correct his carbon footprint. Together, father and son veer from Chicago's seamy underbelly to the lofty hills of South Dakota in a desperate bid to right the man's past wrongs. The pair attracts the attention of game warden Joe Pickett when they pick up some precious cargo along the way-an adolescent girl who holds the key to redemption for both Pickett and the man he's pursuing. Each is plagued by past inaction and eager for a second chance at winning a daughter's trust.

And just as he presents us with fatherly affection through varying lenses, so Box tackles the many faces of environmentalism, from the fanatical to the more rudimentary act of living lightly on the Earth. Pickett's outlaw accomplice, living on the fringe of society, serves as an adherent of the latter approach, chewing over contentious approaches to dealing with global warming in his secluded enclave and emerging with the notion that "the problem is the issue has moved from science into religion with true believers on both sides." From a car chase in Wyoming's spectacular Pumpkin Buttes to a standoff in a coal-fired power plant, Box's new novel won't disappoint those with a penchant for thrills mired in deeper matters of conscience. Box will be reading from his new book at Mystery One on June 24 at 7 p.m.

Also coming to Milwaukee this week is Wade Rouse, author of the new memoir At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream. His visit is part of a 10-city book tour that begins and ends in the author's native state of Michigan. Perhaps encouraged by the interest that Paris Hilton's rural misadventures in "The Simple Life" generated among a certain demographic, Rouse must have thought, "Anything a rich blonde on stilettos can do, an impeccably dressed gay man from Michigan can do better"-until he's undone by a raccoon and the eternity that stands between him and the nearest Starbucks. You can hear Rouse recount his rustic recollections when he comes to Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon on June 18 at 7 p.m.

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