Another stepping stone in my project to catch up with the prodigious output of C. J. Box, in his long-running Joe Pickett series.
The cliffhanger at the end of the last book has been resolved by the beginning of this one. Thanks to the (unfortunately fictional) ex-Governor of Wyoming, Spencer Rulon, Joe has his beloved game warden job back, a new house, and a salary increase. And a welcome respite (at least for one book) from his superiors in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Little Lucy has grown up during the series, and she's about to go to college like her sisters.
Joe's disturbed by some traps that have apparently been left unattended. Fortunately, the owner's name and address are on them, and Joe sets out to track him down. Meanwhile, across the mountains, the game warden, Katelyn Hamm, in the neighboring district witnesses an expensive drone spooking and stampeding mule deer, some to their demise.
Both incidents trace back to residents of a remote compound, who seem unconcerned with trifling violations of state game law. And Joe and Katelyn get visited by the worst kind of FBI agents, the ones who order them to back off. Hm. It's not too difficult for the reader to figure out what's going on, but Joe needs a few more chapters…
Meanwhile, there's a deadly team of killers apparently on the hunt as well. They leave a trail of corpses in their wake, but they are on a collision course with Joe, Katelyn, and Joe's loyal buddy, the falconer Nate Romanowski.
The body count seems unusually high in this book, but maybe that's what the market is demanding.
There's a political angle here: the officious FBI agents make use of the same tactic used to "get" Michael Flynn: 18 U.S.C. § 1001, wedging both Katelyn and Joe into "lying", in an unrecorded "interview". Box is appropriately contemptuous of this abuse.