Putnam Adult, ISBN 978-0399160752
March 12, 2013, 384 pages
Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett knows local construction company owner Butch Roberson, knows he is a very enthusiastic hunter, so he believes his story when he finds him on foot on federal land. Butch says he is scouting locations for the upcoming elk season, and while something feels off to Joe, he has no reason to question what the man says.
That is until Joe gets back to his truck and hears all the radio chatter.
It seems two EPA agents have been shot and the number one suspect is the man he just saw pick up his pack and gun and walk off deeper into the woods, Butch Roberson. Roberson and his wife had an ongoing dispute with the EPA about some land they wanted to build on, a dispute that had been going on for a year and might destroy their dream. When the agents came to serve some papers, Butch just reached his breaking point and struck out and shot the two men...or so it seems.
Two dead Feds bring down the wrath of the federal government and before you can hit a fly with your cowboy hat, a virtual army descends on the area, led by the quite distasteful EPA regional director Juan Batista. This is a man on a mission and his mission is to bring Roberson in, dead or alive. Yes, it does seem extreme, especially since there hasn't been a trial or even a full investigation yet. But for all their manpower and equipment, no one knows this forest and mountains better than Joe, who is ordered to guide a group on horseback into the dense forest to capture the fugitive. So against his wishes and his better judgement, once again Joe Pickett is going to be right in the middle of a bad situation
Especially since law enforcement is not the only people seeking Roberson. A reward was offered and greed often bring out the very worse characters, including in this case, ex-sheriff Kyle McLanahan, another distasteful character that fans of this series will remember. The Wyoming wilderness is a wild place and this is going to be one very thrilling and dangerous chase, from which not everyone is going to emerge. A great twist in the plot at the very end, and a change in Joe's life that may take future books on a new path makes for a fun and exciting read right to the very last page.
Now, I will warn you that some of the plot, especially when the Feds are involved, verges on being over the top. In fact, maybe it actually goes headlong over the verge. Box paints a grim picture of the possibilities involved when power is abused and you would almost think it is impossible that something like what happened to Butch and his wife could really take place. Until you realize it is based on a true story that ended up in front of the Supreme Court. So I guess it is not totally improbable ...well, except maybe for that Stinger missile which I doubt was in the actual case.
But if can roll along with that, you are in for a good ride. As fans of the series will know, Joe Pickett is a great character..I love the glimpses of his family...and you can not beat the fabulous Wyoming setting, one of my favorite part of Box's books.
If you have not read any of the previous books in this series, fear not, because I really think this one can stand alone. A quick, fun, exciting read, that I must say, I quite enjoyed.
My thanks to Library Thing and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.