The reservation deadline is Tuesday, October 22.

WILSON, N.C. — New York Times bestselling author C. J. Box will be the featured speaker at the Barton College Friends of Hackney Library’s annual Fall Dinner and Lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Hardy Alumni Hall on the Barton campus. A book signing and wine reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 7 p.m. Copies of the author’s books will be available for purchase at the event.

Reservations are required. Tickets for the dinner event are $35 per person, with reservations accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 22. Members of the Barton College Friends of Hackney Library may reserve tickets for $30 per person. Table reservations must be for a total of eight persons. Space is limited, and the Friends are encouraging those interested in attending to make their reservations as early as possible. Please contact Luann Clark at 399-6329 or the Friends at fohl@barton.edu for reservation information.

Box is the award-winning author of the popular series of novels featuring crime-solving Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, as well as several stand-alone novels and short stories. His books have earned both popular and critical acclaim. His novels appear frequently on the “New York Times” bestseller lists, and three of them have debuted in the top 15 or higher, with “Force of Nature,” the 12th novel to feature Pickett, coming in at number three.

His first stand-alone book, “Blue Heaven,” garnered the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe award for Best Novel, and he has also received the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and the Gumshoe Award, among others, for his various works. His short stories have been featured in “America’s Best Mystery Stories of 2006” and limited-edition printings. Three of his novels, “Open Season,” “Blue Heaven,” and “Nowhere to Run,” have also been optioned for film. And, the popularity of Box’s novels is not just an American phenomenon: the translation into French of his first Pickett book, “Open Season,” received France’s Prix Calibre 38 award in 2004; his 2008 Pickett series novel “Blood Trail” was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin (Ireland) Literary Award; and his books have now been translated into 25 languages.

Critics also like his work–from his first book to his latest, and everything in between. About Open Season, Bill Ott reviewing for Booklist writes, “. . . Wyoming first-novelist Box remains square on target throughout this superb debut. . . . Joe Pickett, game warden of Twelve Sleep County in Wyoming, is just the kind of everyman hero we can’t help but identify with. . . . the soft-spoken Joe Pickett is a Gary Cooper for our time: flawed, insecure, but a stand-up guy when it counts–the perfect mix of dream and reality.” Publishers Weekly’s review of Open Season predicts that “Box’s superb debut . . . should immediately make him a contender for best first novel or even best novel awards. . . . Meet Joe Pickett: he’s going to be a mystery star.”

For number thirteen in the Pickett series, “Breaking Point,” released in March 2013, “Publishers Weekly” gave it a starred review: “Thrilling wilderness chases, chilling stories of the abuse of power, and Pickett’s indomitable frontier spirit power this explosive novel.” Patricia Ann Owens, writing in “Library Journal,” says of “Breaking Point,” “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.”  Upon its release, “Breaking Point” debuted on four New York Times bestseller lists.

Like Pickett, his most enduring and beloved character, C. J. Box is a Wyoming native. Born and raised in Casper, he has worked as a ranch hand, surveyor, fishing guide, and small town newspaper reporter and editor. Box is an avid outdoorsman, an attribute he shares with many of his characters; he has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden, and skied throughout Wyoming and the Mountain West. He has not only parlayed this love for the outdoors of the western U.S. into award-winning novels set in his native Wyoming and surrounding states, but also into Rocky Mountain International–a marketing firm established in 1990 and co-owned by Box and his wife, Laurie–that coordinates international tourism activities for the state tourism departments of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and North and South Dakota. He and his wife currently live in Wyoming.

A graduate of the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications, Box worked as a journalist for the Wyoming’s “Saratoga Sun,” and then as a columnist for the “Rawlins Daily Times.” It was during his stint there that he began work on first novel “Open Season,” which was declared a New York Times Notable Book in 2001 and was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel (proving prescient the aforementioned Publishers Weekly critique of that book).

As Box explains in an interview in “Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series,” “I have a background in journalism and have always tried to read novels written about or set within Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain west. I was troubled that so many novels (although many brilliantly written) didn’t seem to get the state and region ‘right’ from my standpoint and my motivation was to write novels from the inside-out, from a point-of-view of a novelist who grew up there. I also wanted to tell stories that presented a balanced view of contemporary environmental and cultural issues” (vol. 202, p. 64).

And, his novels continue to explore these contentious themes, including endangered species, logging, wind farms, green technology, hunting, and more. Yet in an August 30, 2012 interview with Nichole L. Ballard in the “Rawlins Times,” Box says that his novels ”aren’t agenda books. They aren’t written to pound home a point of view. They are more to expose both sides of a controversial issue and let the reader come down where they will. In my view, because Wyoming has so many cutting-edge environmental, energy and cultural issues, I think to write about it–well it’s important to include all that. . . . I believe that no matter what, the genre [fiction] should be more about something besides simply a whodunit. In addition to “Breaking Point,” Box’s newest releases include a stand-alone novel slated for publication in August 2013, “The Highway,” which features the return of protagonist Cody Hoyt from Back of Beyond (2011). Box’s web site summarizes the book in this way: “When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls — and their car — simply vanish.” It’s up to former police investigator Cody Hoyt, who has problems of his own, and his former rookie partner to try to find them and bring them back before someone else becomes a victim on “the highway.”

In his newsletter, Box shares that “The Highway” is “the scariest book he’s ever written.” The theme of this novel comes from the headlines. Explaining the background behind it, Box says, “Several years ago, while flying around America on a book tour, I picked up a newspaper someone had left on the next seat in the departure lounge and read a small item detailing the creation of a ‘Highway Serial Killer Task Force’ by the FBI. The few factoids mentioned in the story were chilling. The FBI claimed there are hundreds of missing women throughout the United States, most of them truck stop prostitutes. The murderers were likely long-haul truckers. Law enforcement guessed there were ten to fifteen (and possibly more) serial killers currently ‘working’ on the nation’s highways. Only one had been caught. To those of us who live in rural America where every journey involved hundreds of miles of driving, there is a very real love/hate relationship with the operators of those massive trucks.”

If advance reviews are any indication, “The Highway” will also be rocketing up the bestseller lists. According to Patricia Ann Owens’s starred review in “Library Journal,” this new thriller “weaves together subplots into a nonstop, action-filled race against time. Rolling down the superhighway of suspense, this thriller will leave readers breathless.” And, “Publishers Weekly’s” signature review says, “Filled with believable characters and hard, realistic dialogue, Edgar-winner Box’s perfectly paced novel . . . offers a suspenseful story laced with more than a few shockingly unexpected plot twists.”

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