Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett’s 15th case takes him through some of the darkest days of his checkered career.
While Joe’s surveying a field in which someone massacred a flock of endangered sage grouse, he gets a call that a young woman’s been found in a ditch, badly beaten. Maybe it’s not Joe’s adopted daughter, April, who ran off with rodeo rider Dallas Cates shortly after her 18th birthday (Stone Cold, 2014). But Joe and his librarian wife, Marybeth, know it is, and of course they’re right. Eldon and Brenda Cates insist that Dallas got much too badly banged up at a Houston rodeo to have lifted a hand against April, with whom he’d already split up. Although April, lying in a medically induced coma, is in no position to dispute their story, Joe’s ready to kill Dallas himself—until an anonymous tip identifies survivalist Tilden Cudmore as April’s abductor. Certainly everything about Cudmore’s behavior, especially when he’s confronted by the law, indicates that he fits the bill. While Joe is still wondering which of the suspects is really guilty, his old pal Nate Romanowski, the outlaw falconer last seen giving evidence against murder-for-hire kingpin Wolfgang Templeton, is released from prison, made to sign away most of his civil rights into the bargain, and lured into a lethal ambush and left for dead. Who’s responsible for his shooting? What have they done with his lover and business partner, Liv Brannan? And what hope does Joe have of solving such a range of felonies, especially those that hit closest to home?
All the action and suspense of Box’s long string of high-country adventures, with a solution that’s considerably tighter and more satisfying than most of them. One of Joe’s best.