CJ Box Books In Order: A Full Guide

Prepare to dive into the thrilling world of CJ Box’s novels featuring Joe Pickett. A Wyoming game warden with a heart for justice, Pickett’s adventures unfurl across over twenty gripping novels. This blog post will guide you through the roller-coaster ride of mystery, crime, and wilderness survival that is the Joe Pickett series.

Whether you’re a newcomer or a long-time fan, this post will provide a comprehensive list of CJ Box’s books in order, answer questions on whether they need to be read sequentially, and discuss the total number of books in this engrossing series.

CJ Box Books In Order

The Complete List of Joe Pickett Books in Reading Order

The Complete List of Joe Pickett Books in Reading Order
The Complete List of Joe Pickett Books in Reading Order

CJ Box has crafted an impressive collection of stories in his Joe Pickett series. It’s essential to know the proper sequence of these novels to fully appreciate the development of characters and overarching storylines. Here is the comprehensive list, starting from the first book:

  1. Open Season (2001)
  2. Savage Run (2002)
  3. Winterkill (2003)
  4. Trophy Hunt (2004)
  5. Out of Range (2005)
  6. In Plain Sight (2006)
  7. Free Fire (2007)
  8. Blood Trail (2008)
  9. Below Zero (2009)
  10. Nowhere to Run (2010)
  11. Cold Wind (2011)
  12. Force of Nature (2012)
  13. Breaking Point (2013)
  14. Stone Cold (2014)
  15. Endangered (2015)
  16. Off the Grid (2016)
  17. Vicious Circle (2017)
  18. The Disappeared (2018)
  19. Wolf Pack (2019)
  20. Long Range (2020)
  21. Dark Sky (2021)

Additional novels released after September 2021 should be added as my training data only covers up until that point.

Do you need to read the Joe Pickett series in order?

While each Joe Pickett novel can technically stand on its own, reading them in the order of publication allows for a deeper understanding of the character evolution and continuous subplots.

Expert Tip: There’s a clear progression of Pickett’s personal and professional life throughout the series, which adds richness and complexity to the narrative. Therefore, it’s generally recommended to read them in sequence.

How many books are in the CJ Box series?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, CJ Box has published 21 main novels in the Joe Pickett series. Additionally, he has written several standalone novels and short stories. However, please check the most recent publications, as CJ Box continues to contribute to the thrilling saga of Joe Pickett.

Open Season (2001)

Open Season (2001)
Open Season (2001)

In the serene landscapes of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, Joe Pickett, a conscientious game warden, lives a peaceful life with his wife and daughters. However, when he finds a local hunting outfitter dead in his own backyard and five endangered animals in his freezer, Pickett is thrown into a dangerous mystery.

As he investigates, he unearths a sinister plot concerning the Endangered Species Act and faces criminals who wouldn’t hesitate to kill to keep their secrets safe. Amidst growing threats and a lack of support from his superiors, Pickett must uphold the law and protect his loved ones.

Savage Run (2002)

After the peaceful resolution of his first case, Pickett’s life is again disrupted when an environmental activist, Stewie Woods, dies in a fiery explosion. As he investigates, Pickett learns that Woods was not the first activist to meet a violent end.

A web of deceit unfolds as Pickett tracks a killer targeting activists, leading him to a face-off with a businessman whose wealth allows him to operate above the law. In a thrilling chase through the wilderness, Pickett must stop a killer and reveal a plot that could change the fabric of his society.

Winterkill (2003)

Winterkill (2003)
Winterkill (2003)

In the depths of winter, an unspeakable massacre occurs on Earl Alden’s high-profile ranch, pulling Pickett into a dangerous conflict. Tensions run high as tribal interests, bureaucratic indifference, and federal authority collide. With the bodies piling up, Pickett finds himself at odds with almost everyone including his own family.

As he races against the clock, Pickett must unravel a mystery shrouded in secrecy and deception to restore peace and justice in his community.

Trophy Hunt (2004)

During a sweltering summer, Pickett is confronted with a horrifying mystery of animals and humans turning up gruesomely mutilated around his district. As he investigates the unprecedented carnage, Pickett faces resistance at every turn, complicating his search for the truth.

While juggling personal troubles at home and opposition from local authorities, Pickett must uncover the chilling reality behind the murders before the killer strikes again.

Out of Range (2005)

Out of Range (2005)
Out of Range (2005)

Joe is called to Jackson, Wyoming, to fill in for a fellow warden, Will Jensen, who has committed suicide. As he steps into Jensen’s shoes, he begins to question the circumstances around his friend’s death. While balancing his responsibilities as a temporary game warden, he starts uncovering clues that hint at foul play.

The deeper he digs, the more dangerous his path becomes. In the glamorous ski town, Pickett uncovers a world of greed, secrets, and deadly intentions hidden beneath the veneer of affluence and respectability.

In Plain Sight (2006)

In this installment, Pickett investigates the shocking murder of ranch owner Opal Scarlett, who disappeared years ago, leaving her sons, Hank and Arlen, to battle over her vast property. When Arlen is found dead, Pickett gets drawn into the Scarlett family’s secrets and feuds.

The more Pickett uncovers, the clearer it becomes that he’s dealing with much more than a family dispute. While battling a manipulative killer and political interference, Pickett must also confront a personal enemy, intent on causing havoc in his life.

Free Fire (2007)

Free Fire (2007)
Free Fire (2007)

Joe Pickett is called in when Earl Alden and his wife are found dead, apparently victims of a murder-suicide. But things don’t add up, and Joe is determined to uncover the truth. His search leads him to Yellowstone National Park, where the laws of man seem insignificant to those of nature.

With potential murderers walking free due to a loophole in the law, Pickett must navigate the dangerous wilderness and a legal minefield to bring the culprits to justice.

Blood Trail (2008)

The state of Wyoming is rocked when a series of horrific murders targeting hunters threaten to ignite a wave of public outrage. With the situation escalating, Pickett is deputized to help solve the crimes and prevent further bloodshed. As he delves into the case, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a cunning and ruthless killer.

The chase forces Pickett to grapple with issues of animal rights, hunting ethics, and the very value of human life.

Below Zero (2009)

Below Zero (2009)
Below Zero (2009)

In a surprising twist, Pickett’s foster daughter April believed to be dead, reaches out to the Pickett family, leading them into a web of lies, secrets, and danger. On a mission to find April, Pickett, and his family venture far from home, confronting powerful and ruthless adversaries.

The quest brings them face-to-face with the destructive potential of a warming planet and the merciless individuals who would profit from it.

Nowhere to Run (2010)

During his last week on the job before his new assignment, Pickett attempts to enjoy a tranquil patrol in the mountains. However, his peace is shattered when he stumbles upon a brutal scene of animal cruelty and crosses paths with a pair of mysterious runners with an unnerving aura of invincibility. As the situation escalates, Pickett becomes a hunted man.

In the rugged wilderness, he must outwit his pursuers and uncover the reason behind their relentless torment.

Cold Wind (2011)

Cold Wind (2011)
Cold Wind (2011)

When Earl Alden is found dead, suspended from a wind turbine, it’s up to Joe Pickett to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Joe’s task becomes even more complicated when his mother-in-law, Missy, Earl’s wife, is arrested for the murder. Despite their strained relationship, Joe knows Missy is not capable of such a brutal act.

Battling against time and prejudice, Joe must follow a trail of corruption, greed, and betrayal to uncover the truth and save Missy from a wrongful conviction.

Force of Nature (2012)

Joe’s friend, falconer Nate Romanowski, is forced into the limelight when his past catches up with him. Wanted by the authorities and targeted by a former colleague from his special forces days, Nate attracts danger that threatens not only him but also those he cares about. As Nate goes on the offensive, Joe is torn between his duty as a law officer and his loyalty to his friend.

Breaking Point (2013)

Breaking Point (2013)
Breaking Point (2013)

The EPA’s reckless disregard for the law pushes local businessman Butch Roberson to his breaking point. When Butch becomes a suspect in a double murder, Joe Pickett, convinced of his innocence, takes on the federal agency to prove it. But the more Joe uncovers, the more he realizes that there is a dangerous conspiracy at play.

Fighting against an unknown enemy, Joe must uncover the truth before it’s too late for him and Butch.

Stone Cold (2014)

Joe Pickett is assigned to investigate Wolfgang Templeton, a wealthy, mysterious man living in remote Wyoming who’s been receiving death threats. As Joe digs into Templeton’s past, he discovers that his target might be a potential killer instead of a victim.

Dealing with a potentially lethal adversary, Joe needs to unravel Templeton’s secrets while ensuring his own survival and that of those dear to him.

Endangered (2015)

Endangered (2015)
Endangered (2015)

Joe Pickett’s world is turned upside down when his foster daughter, April, is found beaten nearly to death in a ditch. With a local family of notorious criminals being the prime suspects, Joe takes the law into his own hands to track down the person responsible.

However, his quest for justice leads him into a deadly confrontation with the region’s most powerful family. Joe must fight for his family’s safety and bring April’s attacker to justice.

Off the Grid (2016)

Joe’s friend, Nate Romanowski, is approached by a government agency with an intriguing offer: to have his criminal record wiped clean in exchange for a seemingly simple task. But the mission leads Nate into a deadly game involving terrorists and an impending attack.

Meanwhile, Joe’s daughter Sheridan faces a personal threat when a stranger on her college campus seems to know too much about her family. With dangers converging, Joe and Nate must navigate their way through the perilous landscape.

Vicious Circle (2017)

Vicious Circle (2017)
Vicious Circle (2017)

A past mistake comes back to haunt Joe Pickett when a vengeful rodeo star is released from prison. Dallas Cates, the man once involved with Joe’s foster daughter April, blames Joe and his family for his downfall.

As Dallas starts to exact his revenge, Joe must shield his family from danger. With his loved ones caught in a vicious circle of hate and violence, Joe must stand his ground to protect them.

The Disappeared (2018)

Joe Pickett is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a high-profile British businesswoman who vanished from a luxurious dude ranch. Meanwhile, Joe’s friend Nate is dealing with a related issue that puts him in grave danger. As the two men navigate a web of treachery and lies, they must solve the mystery before they too disappear.

Wolf Pack (2019)

Wolf Pack (2019)
Wolf Pack (2019)

A disturbing drone activity triggers a string of investigations, pulling Joe Pickett into a lethal situation. The illegal drone operator is not only killing wildlife but also seems connected to a deadly plot that could result in widespread carnage. As Joe and his team race against time, they must put an end to the deadly scheme before it spirals out of control.

Long Range (2020)

When the wife of a prominent judge is shot, Joe Pickett is called in to assist in the investigation. The shot, made from an incredibly long distance, immediately raises the suspicion of a professional assassination.

At the same time, Joe’s friend Nate Romanowski has problems of his own: a powerful local figure has a vendetta against him and is willing to go to great lengths to hurt him. As the situation escalates, Joe must protect those he cares about from an unknown enemy.

Dark Sky (2021)

Dark Sky (2021)
Dark Sky (2021)

Joe Pickett is tasked with escorting a Silicon Valley CEO on an elk-hunting trip. But what was supposed to be a simple assignment soon turns into a deadly pursuit as the CEO vanishes and the tech mogul’s killer closes in on Joe and his guide.

With no communication or backup, Joe must use his wits and experience to protect his charge and ensure his own survival in the unforgiving wilderness.

Who is Joe Pickett in C.J. Box’s novels?

Who is Joe Pickett in C.J. Box's novels?
Who is Joe Pickett in C.J. Box’s novels?

Joe Pickett is the central character in C.J. Box’s series. He’s a dedicated and honest game warden working in Wyoming. His character resonates with readers due to his moral integrity, his love for nature, and his devotion to his family. Throughout the series, he’s seen tackling environmental issues, crime, and personal challenges.

Despite facing numerous adversities, Joe remains steadfast, staying true to his principles and demonstrating unwavering commitment to his role as a game warden.

What makes the Joe Pickett series unique?

The series’ uniqueness lies in its perfect blend of action, mystery, suspense, and the exploration of environmental and ethical issues. Box’s vivid descriptions of the Wyoming setting allow readers to feel immersed in the rugged beauty of the American West.

Additionally, Joe Pickett’s character, an everyday man upholding justice in his corner of the world, adds a relatable, human element to these gripping narratives.

Is it essential to read the Joe Pickett series in order?

While each book in the Joe Pickett series can stand alone with its self-contained story, reading the series in order allows readers to better understand character development and ongoing story arcs. Joe’s relationships, family dynamics, and personal growth evolve with each book, enhancing the reading experience when followed chronologically.

What is the recurring theme in the Joe Pickett series?

One of the prominent themes in the Joe Pickett series is the struggle between nature and man. This theme is reflected in the environmental issues depicted in the stories and in Joe’s role as a game warden. Other recurring themes include justice, family, loyalty, and the moral dilemmas faced by individuals in power.

Who are some significant characters in the series besides Joe Pickett?

Key characters besides Joe Pickett include his wife, Marybeth, his daughters Sheridan, April, and Lucy, and his close friend, Nate Romanowski. Marybeth is a librarian with a strong sense of justice, often serving as Joe’s moral compass. Nate, a former Special Forces soldier, often aids Joe in his quests, providing a grittier, vigilante contrast to Joe’s by-the-book approach.

Is there any character development for Joe Pickett throughout the series?

Absolutely. Over the course of the series, readers witness Joe’s growth both professionally and personally. He evolves from a somewhat naive game warden to a seasoned investigator confronting complex moral dilemmas. On the home front, Joe navigates the challenges of being a husband and father, which often intersect with his professional life.

What are some of the awards that C.J. Box has won for the Joe Pickett series?

C.J. Box’s series has garnered numerous awards, including the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best First Novel for “Open Season,” the Anthony Award, the Prix Calibre .38 for Best American Crime Fiction, and the French Prix SNCF du Polar for best crime fiction novel.

Is there a noticeable writing style in the Joe Pickett series?

C.J. Box’s writing is marked by fast-paced plots, rich characterizations, and atmospheric descriptions of the Wyoming landscape. He uses a third-person narrative and includes multiple viewpoints, contributing to the depth and complexity of the stories.

Can readers who don’t usually enjoy crime novels appreciate the Joe Pickett series?

Yes, definitely. While the series falls into the crime genre, its appeal extends beyond due to the exploration of environmental issues, human relationships, moral dilemmas, and the captivating backdrop of Wyoming’s wild landscapes. It’s also a testament to C.J. Box’s storytelling abilities that he can engage a wide range of readers.

Are there any plans to adapt the Joe Pickett series for television or film?

A television adaptation of the Joe Pickett series was indeed in development. For the most current information, please check the latest updates online.


C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series offers readers an exhilarating journey through the captivating landscapes of Wyoming, blended with engaging narratives and complex characters. While rooted in the crime and mystery genres, the series resonates with a broad spectrum of readers due to its exploration of environmental ethics, family dynamics, and moral dilemmas.

Reading the series in order can enhance the experience, providing a deeper understanding of character development and overarching story arcs. Regardless of whether you’re a devoted crime novel fan or a newcomer to the genre, the Joe Pickett series is a compelling and rewarding literary adventure.

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About Ben Hudd

Hi, my name is Ben, and I am part of the writing crew for TheWritersHQ!

I have a roaring passion for books and writing, and have written 2 books throughout my life! I am now excited to share my writing and book knowledge with the world!