Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett’s last patrol before he returns to his family and his old posting in Twelve Sleep County leads to another round of tense high-country adventure.
Something is wrong in the Sierra Madre. Two years after Olympic track hopeful Diane Shober disappeared while she was training in the high altitude, locals like fisherman Dave Farkus still whisper about the place. Now someone has butchered an elk—maybe a Wendigo, a spirit who’s supposed to stick to the Canadian side of the border. When he goes to investigate, Joe runs afoul of the Grim brothers. Ticketed for fishing without a license, Caleb Grimmengruber warns Joe to drop the matter and ride off. But Joe’s insistence on doing his job has bloody consequences that leave Joe, “outgunned, outnumbered, and outmanned,” limping back to civilization. Discredited once again by law officers who improbably dismiss his story when they can’t find the Grims, Joe resigns himself to riding out his enforced leave in his home. But forces conspire to send him and his outlaw buddy Nate Romanowski back into the Sierra Madre to look for Diane, and inevitably for the twins who bested him the first time around, this time to complete a mission that Nate calls “the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
After an uncharacteristically weak outing (Below Zero, 2009), it’s great to see the usual Box strengths—exhilarating landscapes, high adventure, thrilling suspense, surprising moral quandaries—done to a turn.