Putnam, $26.95, 370 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-16076-9
For all of the fans who, like me, are mourning the cancellation of the show Longmire by the A&E Network, don’t despair . . . there’s an alternative out there. The novels of C.J. Box, one of today’s “A-list, must read authors,” according to no less of a luminary than world-class author Lee Child, are available to ease your pain and provide an entertaining set of yarns about a Wyoming Fish and Game Warden named Joe Pickett. For those of you who aren’t familiar with C.J. Box, he’s won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe and Barry Awards as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 literary award, and his books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. His newest work, entitled, Stone Cold, is the fourteenth in the Joe Pickett series, and many, including myself, think it’s the best yet.
Pickett, officially a badge carrying Wyoming Game Warden, is in reality a troubleshooter for Governor Rulon, the states chief executive officer. The Governor sends Pickett to find out the details of one of the state’s newest, richest and most reticent citizens, a man named Wolfgang Templeton, who bought a huge ranch in the Black Hills, located in the remotest section of the northeast quadrant of the state, and promptly closed it off. Governor Rulon wants to know what’s going on up there. Templeton, a former hedge fund manager, has targeted the most impoverished part of the state, where he’s turned himself into a modern day benevolent dictator whose word is law, whose resources appear to be unlimited, and whose riches seem to come out of thin air. Rumors are rife about the goings on up there: the parties, the women, the mysterious comings and goings in the middle of the night from a private airstrip . . . but the most sinister rumor of all is that the despot’s fabulous wealth comes from the targeted killings of prominent people. Pickett goes in, under the guise of helping the local game warden implement some new department policies, but in reality he’s undercover, reporting everything back to Governor Rulon. What he finds is shocking in the extreme, puts his life on the line and turns an old friend into an adversary . . . while at the same time, Pickett and his wife Marybeth are trying to protect their adoptive daughter April from herself, and their collegiate daughter Sheridan from a possible campus rampage. Like all the novels in the series, Stone Cold will keep you guessing and turning the pages until you’ve read the last one. And hey . . . best of all . . . you don’t have to put up with all those ‘erectile dysfunction’ commercials every seven minutes, either. You’ll love Joe Pickett and the novels of C.J. Box once you’re introduced to them. Enjoy!