This fourth entry in the Joe Pickett series is another well-written page-turner. (Read mostly on the iPad Kindle app so maybe I should have said: "well-written screen-swipe gesturer".)
While fishing with his daughters, game warden Joe makes a grisly discovery: a dead moose, seemingly mutilated with extreme care and expertise. An atmosphere of dread hangs over the scene
Maybe it's aliens, and the Joe Pickett series is about to take a turn into 1930's style science fiction? Not really.
But the mutilated corpses continue to pile up, including a couple of humans, and that broadens the investigation beyond Joe's employer, Wyoming Game & Fish. Joe's old nemesis, the corrupt Sheriff Barnum, is brought in, as is the FBI agent from the previous book, who also dislikes Joe.
Joe has no special expertise in detective work, but he's dogged, diligent, and motivated. There are a lot of twists and a semi-ambiguous ending that flirts with semi-supernatural James Lee Burke-style explication.
C.J. Box (once again) brings Joe's family into the mix, and does a fine job of giving Joe's wife and daughters unique and interesting character traits. From the past entries in the series, we know that Box isn't shy about visiting danger and tragedy upon the Picketts. This makes reading Box an excercise in trepidation. We're pretty sure Joe's going to make it to the end, but who knows about anyone else?