Inspired by a real-life Wyoming game warden's encounter with sinister mountain-man twin brothers, Edgar-winner Box's outstanding 10th Joe Pickett novel (after Below Zero) takes Pickett into darker territory than ever before. Pickett's eerie last patrol as a temporary game warden in a remote mountainous area turns into a savage brush with death, followed by a crisis of conscience that drives the decent Pickett back into the same mountains to rescue Diane Shober, an Olympic runner who vanished there—and to bring Caleb and Camish Grim, twin brothers suspected of poaching (and maybe worse) to justice. Box inexorably builds Joe's harrowing personal quest into a complex meditation on human greed and government corruption. A lone black wolf, possibly Box's symbol for the wilderness within and without the human soul, tracks Joe throughout this terrible, beautiful tale of courage and compassion and culpability. Author tour. (Apr.)
Heading into the Wyoming backcountry while responding to a hunting complaint, game warden Joe Pickett senses someone lurking in the woods. Rumors have been flying about this region ever since a world-class female runner disappeared here a few years ago. But it's not until Joe is ambushed and almost killed and staggers out of the forest talking about twin survivalist-type guys and a lone woman that things get really crazy. The runner's parents, the media, and mercenaries descend. Box's latest thriller (after Below Zero) is an intense story of multiple crimes that asks rhetorically how much government interference is mandatory when people just want to be left alone. Echoing themes from earlier books (Winterkill), Box views the quandary from all sides in this well-structured novel. VERDICT A perfect choice for fans of Nevada Barr's Hard Truth, which grappled with a similar topic, and readers who like political issues mixed in with their suspense, this title can be read as a stand-alone. However, series readers will enjoy Nate Romanowski's growing role as sidekick, much like Joe Pike in Robert Crais's Elvis Cole novels. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 12/09.]—Teresa L. Jacobsen, Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA
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.