Mysterious Book Report EndangeredEndangered by C.J. Box

Putnam, $26.95, 369 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-16077-6

I’m going way out on a limb with our review this week, and it’s a scary proposition, because it concerns a subject that engenders a wealth of strong feelings . . . The Endangered Species Act. It’s a concept that everyone has an opinion about—and pro or con—they all have validity. We’re not going to try hashing it out here, except to point out that central planning (Federal Laws), can’t possibly work in all the jurisdictions (State Rights to local controls), because the situation on the ground isn’t the same in every instance. Then, there’s the law of unintended consequences . . . remember the spotted owl? It was put on the endangered list, which resulted in the utter devastation of the northwest timber industry and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Turned out the little rascals weren’t quite so scare after all. Heavy-handed, arrogant know-it-alls from federal agencies running roughshod over local experts are causing an immense backlash among the ordinary taxpaying citizens who foot the bills for those so-called ‘protective’ bureaus. Ask the folks in Silverton, Colorado, or anyone downstream . . . like the whole Navajo Nation and the mayors of the cities who get their drinking water from Lake Meade or Lake Powell how it’s working out for them, after some ignorant jackasses from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) released a few million gallons of arsenic and lead contaminated mine-water into their water supply systems—turning the Animas River a bright neon orange in the process. And, unlike private industry, there’s not one shred of individual accountability. Not one. Zero. Zip. Nada. As I said, it engenders strong feelings, and yes Virginia, there is a book review in here . . .

Endangered, by C.J. Box, again features Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett, who’s trying to save his adopted daughter April, from the rodeo cowboy she ran away with, several months earlier. Dallas Cates is the cowboy’s name, he’s a local boy Pickett has had suspicions about since a group of high school jocks were convicted of beating and raping a teenaged girl. All the boys went to prison except Cates. He was exonerated when the others refused to testify against him. Now Cates has April—or did have—until her father got the sheriff’s call telling him that she’d been found in a ditch, badly beaten and barely alive. Now she’s in a Montana Critical Care Unit, hooked to life support systems and holding on to life by the thinnest of threads as her family agonizes nearby. As if that’s not enough to deal with, Joe’s also trying to solve the mystery of LEK64, a group of sage grouse found wantonly slaughtered in his patrol area. The grouse, once plentiful, are becoming scarce and a battle is brewing between Washington, D.C. and the Wyoming Governor about the status of the birds. If they go on the endangered species list, it would shut down the state’s oil, coal and cattle industries in the effected areas—virtually the entire state. Like all his books, Endangered ratchets up the tension, suspense, and surprises with every chapter, until the reader can’t stop before learning what’s on the last page. Read it and find out for yourself, why C.J. Box is today’s “must read A-list author” and a favorite of many other writers including me.


John Dwaine McKenna