Putnam/Penguin/Random House, $27.00, 370 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-53819-6
Unlike most of the rest of our squared-off western states that’re all of a sudden filling up with folks fleeing from overcrowded, overtaxed and overregulated places to the east and west of them, Wyoming is still windswept, wide-open and mostly rural. It has some of the most spectacular scenery and most magnificent wild game and fish anywhere on earth. It’s a place where one can still stretch out, breath free . . . and get lost. Disappear and not be found. But Wyoming also has rules and regulations, as well as law and order, which is where a fictional Wyoming Game Warden named Joe Pickett comes in. He’s the kind of man we all aspire to be: kind; true to his ideals of family and career and country; pragmatic; altruistic; idealistic; tough, brave and dedicated. He’s a confidant and trusted ally of the retired Wyoming governor . . . the adversary of the sitting one . . . and as such, he’s had more hairy adventures than Indiana Jones.
Now, in his latest—and twentieth tale—Wolf Pack by C.J. Box, Joe Pickett has his hands full. He’s got his job and seniority back, had all of his back pay restored . . . has a newer, larger and better house . . . even a brand new pickup truck, all issued to him by the Wyoming Division of Wildlife. He’d lost everything in his last adventure, The Disappeared, but was restored, thanks to a spirited pro bono defense by the retired governor.
But now, Pickett has a new problem. Someone has been using a large, professional drone equipped with cameras to stampede and kill winter weakened elk and mule deer. When Pickett and a neighboring game warden track the drone operator down, they’re confronted by the FBI and the DOJ and told to stand down—drop the case—on the grounds of National Security interests. When he’s told that “millions could die” by the officious, secretive and pushy Feds, it arouses Pickett’s suspicions and he vows to get to the bottom of it all. Then, as if that wasn’t enough to deal with, a legendary team of assassins, known as the Wolf Pack, has slinked into the small town of Saddlestring. They’ve been sent in by the Sinaloa drug cartel and the body count is climbing into epic numbers, thrusting Pickett and his allies into the most violent and deadly confrontation he’s ever encountered. Author C.J. Box is at the top of his game in this irresistible and chilling thriller!