Out of Range

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Book number 5 in C.J. Box's series about Joe Pickett, a game warden working for the State of Wyoming. It helps to have read the previous ones. I can't say enough good things about the series.

In this one, Joe is tasked with filling in for the Jackson Hole game warden, Will Jensen. Joe had always looked up to Will, so it's very disturbing for him to learn that Will had gone crazy, taking his own life. Jackson Hole is also fast-paced, high-pressure, and very upscale compared to Joe's normal station. There's a meat-is-murder group not only trying to get hunting shut down in the area, but also opposed to a real estate mogul trying to establish a "pure meat" development. The developer is trying to railroad Joe's approval of his plans, and his comely wife seems to have an independent interest in Joe. Is she just a sucker for his game warden uniform?

But the overriding mystery is: what happened to Will? Is Joe in danger from the same nefarious forces? (Hint: yes, he is.)

Meanwhile back home, Joe's wife and kids are being harassed by anonymous phone calls. Joe's friend-with-a-mysterious-past, Nate, has pledged to look after Joe's family, but he has problems of his own: a guy from out of town is trying to track him down, and it's not to give him flowers.

Mr. Box does his usual fine job of describing the spectacular beauty and (sometimes) danger of the Wyoming countryside. Unlike many genre heroes, Box's Joe is quite human: he makes mistakes, he gets scared, he's a little slow on the uptake. He and his wife have believable strains on their marriage.

Sometimes I gripe about books getting padded out to contractually-obligated lengths. I didn't get that impression here, even at 384 (paperback) pages.

Last Modified 2015-03-12 6:39 PM EDT