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by C.J. Box

Pub Date: March 20th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-15826-1
Publisher: Putnam

The dark past from which Nate Romanowski’s hidden for so long and so successfully finally catches up with him and his friend, Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett (Cold Wind, 2011, etc.).

“The Five. They’ve deployed,” Nate’s pal Large Merle tells him with his dying breath. As soon as he hears the news, Nate knows that his years of living off the grid in Wyoming’s Twelve Sleep County—no job, no bank account, no Social Security number—haven’t buried him deep enough. Setting his beloved falcon free and abandoning or destroying most of his meager belongings, he high-tails it out, pausing only to shoot three locals who draw on him first. Joe Pickett, tangling once more with Ten Sleep County Sheriff Kyle McLanahan over his responsibilities as government official, witness and friend of the fugitive Nate, is pulled so completely into the triple murder investigation that at one point Luke Brueggemann, his new trainee, asks him, “Does that mean we’re going to get to do real game warden stuff?” Nate, meanwhile, makes the rounds of all his closest friends and relations from his days in Special Forces and finds that those who haven’t recently died are in serious danger of getting killed before his eyes. Clearly John Nemecek, the master falconer from Special Forces who taught Nate everything he knows before sucking him into an improbable intrigue that led to a catastrophic screw-up for the federal government, is determined to keep his secret at all costs.

The secret is preposterous but serviceable, and the strenuously unnuanced story moves like greased lightning. Box has done much better work, but this high-casualty actioner is just fine.