MSU College of Law



May 15, 2007


MSU Law Professor Explains Plot Behind Free Fire

Famed Author C.J. Box Introduces Kalt-Inspired Novel

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University College of Law Professor Brian C. Kalt and mystery writer C.J. Box introduced Free Fire yesterday and explained the novel’s inspiration from Professor Kalt’s article “The Perfect Crime” (Georgetown Law Journal, 2005). 

Professor Kalt’s article uncovered Yellowstone National Park’s “Zone of Death,” a 50-square-mile strip of land in the remote Idaho portion of the park that contains a potentially deadly loophole.  The area sits in one state, but in the district of another, so the Sixth Amendment requires that any crime committed there must be tried before a jury drawn from that strip of land – but nobody lives there.

Free Fire is C.J. Box’s seventh installation of his popular Joe Pickett novel series and unfolds as protagonist Joe Pickett is called to investigate an attorney who admitted to murdering four campers in the remote area of the park, but convinced the courts that he could not be prosecuted.  Box fans and those interested in the novel’s potentially real plot gathered at Schuler Books & Music in Okemos for a short reading from the novel, background on Box’s inspiration and research, and to ask Professor Kalt questions on Yellowstone’s “Zone of Death.”

Professor Kalt offered advice and reason to Free Fire readers: First, “Don’t get any ideas,” he said, explaining several limitations to the loophole.  Second, “Joe Pickett series enthusiast U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) is aware of the loophole and is interested in possibly fixing it.”

Box’s Joe Pickett series was described by The Wall Street Journal as “outstanding” and Free Fire has already received starred reviews in Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus listed it as one of the "Hot Releases of 2007."  Free Fire is now on sale, but its official unveiling takes place at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park on May 18 where Professor Kalt will be on hand to further explain Yellowstone's "Zone of Death."

MSU College of Law was in founded in 1891 and is a private institution of higher learning devoted exclusively to professional education in law.  The Law College is one of only a few private law schools to be affiliated with a research university, enabling it to provide a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program.  Classes offered in its state-of-the-art facilities provide students the benefits of a Big Ten campus while maintaining the small school culture.  Its 2006 graduates achieved a 93 percent bar examination passage rate nationwide and the Law College’s Intellectual Property and Communications Law Program falls in the nation’s top-20 according to U.S. News & World Report.  The Law College is one of the oldest continuously operating independent law colleges in the nation.  For more information about the Law College, visit


Book Reading

Nearly 50 admirers of C.J. Box (l) and his Joe Pickett series listen as MSU Law Professor Brian Kalt (r) answers questions on Yellowstone’s “Zone of Death.”