When , as an author, you are sixteen volumes into a series, you certainly have a stamp of approval. This, the first in the series, was for me a great introduction. When I put it down, I was a C. J. Box fan.
Honest Joe Pickett, game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, is unpopular in a place where almost everybody hunts and a lot of them wish he would look the other way. One such, a hunt outfitter who constantly skates near the edge of legal hunting, is found dead in Joe’s back yard. The bodies of his usual companions are found strewn about their camp in the mountains.
InterWest is a company intent on pushing an oil pipeline through Joe’s territory. Nothing must be allowed to stand in their way, including the habitats of endangered species.
Joe is slow, often caught off guard by being too trusting. His pregnant wife and young daughters are his world, above his poorly paid job. He gets tempted by a supposed offer by his mentor and former colleague to join InterWest for three times his current salary. Feeling that the murders involve him personally, he ignores pressure by the sheriff and his superiors to leave the investigation to others, and begins to find a few clues. Behind the scenes the pressure mounts, his family is threatened and he is suspended from his job.
Unbeknownst to Joe, his seven year old daughter Sheridan has a secret that a sinister man finds out and threatened to kill her family if she tells anybody about it. Her fears and anxiety are well told and notch up the tension to breaking point.
From then on, Joe solidifies and the pace picks up to as racy a thriller as you could wish for. Some might find Joe to be less than a hero, but he is my sort of man – kind, slow to anger, but gutsy and stubborn when threatened. If you love and appreciate wild, wide-open spaces, and wildlife anywhere on the globe, beautifully described with spiritual feeling, you will also become a C.J.Box fan.
Our thanks to Carolyn Darr of PENGUIN RANDOMHOUSE for the invitation to attend this crime scene…