In his 17th adventure, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett (Off the Grid, 2016, etc.) goes another 15 rounds with surviving members of the toxic Cates family.
Joe has run into ex-everything Dave Farkus too many times in too many unsavory ways to expect any favors from him. So he’s doubly surprised when Farkus phones him from Stockman’s Bar to say he’s overheard a conversation about Joe and his family before he’s abruptly cut off. Joe’s concern turns to alarm when Farkus disappears from a hunting trip, and his blood is curdled by the discoveries of dead Farkus and disconcertingly alive Dallas Cates, the disgraced rodeo star who ran off with Joe’s daughter April, dumped her out of his truck, and ended up in the prison he’s just been released from, hungry for vengeance for the deaths of his father and two brothers. County attorney Dulcie Schalk has no trouble linking Dallas to the dead man, but high-priced defense attorney Marcus Hand, now married to Joe’s scheming, useless mother-in-law, Miss Vankueren, has even less trouble getting the charges dropped, leaving Dallas and his two hirelings free to roam the trails of Ten Sleep County, virtually immune from prosecution, as they ponder new ways to menace the Picketts. Can Joe gather enough evidence to neutralize Dallas before the charismatic sociopath, whose paralyzed mother, Brenda, is the queen bee of the Wyoming Department of Corrections’ Women’s Center, neutralizes Joe and his whole family?
Bracingly familiar pleasures expertly packaged. The two families’ fraught history, tangled enough to fuel a whole season of high-country soap opera, keeps this installment from being the best place to take the initial plunge into the franchise, but first-timers will be intrigued and fans amply rewarded.