Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Joe Pickett (Free Fire, 2007, etc.), once again at the governor’s behest, stalks the wraithlike figure who’s targeting elk hunters for death.
Frank Urman was taken down by a single rifle shot, field-dressed, beheaded and hung upside-down to bleed out. (You won’t believe where his head eventually turns up.) The poker chip found near his body confirms that he’s the third victim of the Wolverine, a killer whose animus against hunters is evidently being whipped up by anti-hunting activist Klamath Moore. The potential effects on the state’s hunting revenues are so calamitous that Governor Spencer Rulon pulls out all the stops, and Pickett is forced to work directly with Wyoming Game and Fish Director Randy Pope, the boss who fired him from his regular job in Saddlestring District. Three more victims will die in rapid succession before Joe is given a more congenial colleague: Nate Romanowski, the outlaw falconer who pledged to protect Joe’s family before he was taken into federal custody. As usual in this acclaimed series, the mystery is slight and its solution eminently guessable long before it’s confirmed by testimony from an unlikely source. But the people and scenes and enduring conflicts that lead up to that solution will stick with you for a long time.
More of a western than a mystery, like most of Joe’s adventures, and all the better for the open physical clashes that periodically release the tension between the scheming adversaries.