Rookie Twelve Sleep County Game Warden Joe Pickett’s not much of a shot, and he’s been looking like a goat ever since poacher Ote Keeley got the drop on him with his own gun during a routine arrest. But at least he’s doing better than Ote, who’s turned up dead on the woodpile outside Joe’s house. Joe’s search in Crazy Woman Creek canyon for the two outfitters and guides Ote was most recently partnered with ends happily, though violently, and suddenly Joe is the man of the hour. Longtime County Sheriff Bud Barnum nervously asks Joe’s assurance that he’s not going to support neighboring game warden Wacey Hedeman’s challenge in the upcoming election; trophy wife Aimee Kensinger, who really likes men in uniforms, invites Joe’s family to housesit her palatial digs for three weeks; and wily Vern Dunnegan, Joe’s predecessor, wants Joe to join him in pulling down big bucks from InterWest resources, the fat-cat corporation for whose gas pipeline Vern’s lining up local support. All this good news is only a front, of course, for a monstrous assault on Joe’s livelihood, his integrity, and his family—and incidentally on an inoffensive species long assumed extinct. In response, Joe promises one of the bad guys that “things are going to get real western,” and that’s exactly what happens in the satisfyingly action-filled climax.
A high-country Presumed Innocent that moves like greased lightning. First of a welcome new series, though it’s hard to imagine tourism-marketing exec Box topping his debut.