Ten stories—three never before published—from the best-selling creator of Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Joe Pickett (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.).
Joe appears in three of these tales and has a cameo in a fourth. In “One-Car Bridge,” he delivers bad news to a mean millionaire rancher whose day is about to get worse. “Dull Knife” shows him investigating the death of a former women’s basketball star whose car plunged into an icy lake. “Shots Fired: A Requiem for Ander Esti” takes him into an innocuous sheep wagon from which shots have been fired at a visiting hunter’s car. And in “The Master Falconer,” he’s on hand to lend support and comfort to his friend Nate Romanowski, whose falcons have been seized by an Arab patron whose money Nate refused. The other stories are more wide-ranging. A pair of Czech visitors to Big Sky country try to get tough with a biopirate in “Pirates of Yellowstone.” A fishing expedition ends in predictable violence in “Every Day Is a Good Day on the River.” A kidnapped lawyer turns the tables on a disgruntled legal opponent in “Pronghorns of the Third Reich.” The short, heartfelt “Blood Knot” shows the last morning a teenage girl joins her grandfather to fish. The title character in “La Sauvage Noble ('The Noble Savage')” ships off to Paris with a Wild West show looking to get screwed, and does so in more ways than one. And the fate of the incautious trappers in “The End of Jim and Ezra,” set in 1835, shows how little has changed in the years since.
Box generally avoids whodunits and surprises; the title story’s subtitle gives away its principal revelation. But if you’re looking for rising tension played out against spectacular natural scenery, nobody does it better.