Conservation Officer Grady Service, who patrols the vast, imaginary Mosquito Tract in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is a man made "to live big and hard," which is why he loves his job so much—the breathtaking beauty of his surroundings, the paradoxical savagery of the animals and weather, and, of course, the irresistible pull of danger. What he doesn't love are poachers, particularly when their target of choice amounts to an endangered species, and their weapon of choice is anything but sporting. It's been a long time, for instance, since wolves made a habitat out of the Mosquito Tract, and Grady bristles at the thought of them as prey for fat-cat trophy-hunters wielding 50-caliber rifles. And if wolves are generally rare in the Mosquito Tract, a blue wolf qualifies as a kind of miracle, though one that's merely a come-on to the trigger-happy. Poachers and trophy hunters, however, are small potatoes compared to the miscreants who blew up a federal animal lab. At first, zealots belonging to the Animal Freedom League seem the obvious suspects—until Grady begins viewing the explosion as a cold-blooded experiment in make-believe. The two human corpses inside may not have been collateral damage at all, he decides, but rather the intended result of an elaborate and deadly cover-up. Before Grady can get to the bottom of the convoluted goings-on, he'll be in the sights of a 50-caliber rifle himself.
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