Thursday, April 3, 2014
I've been a fan of C.J. Box since he began his series with Joe Pike in "Open Season" in 2001. The author is well regarded and has received many literary awards such as the Edgar Awards.
In this story, Joe is now a troubleshooter for Wyoming Governor Rulon. Joe is asked by Rulon to look into what is going on in Medicine Wheel County. It's a beautiful countryside but many of the residents have been on government assistant programs for lengthy times. Now, a wealthy man, Wolfgang Tomlinson has purchased a large parcel of land and set up a little domain. He is suspected of a murder for hire business.
Joe is asked to observe and report back. He's assisted by FBI agent Croon who is an old friend of Joe's. Joe's cover is to work with the local game warden and observe what Tomlinson is up to but to take no action. Of course, Joe does what he usually does, stirs up the pot and sees what transpires.
The writing is crisp and there are a number of surprises. Nate Romanowski appears. He's a falconer and old friend of Joe. Nate is a rebel and nature lover and always interesting to follow.
The setting is well described and we learn how this section of Wyoming became impoverished and how Tomlinson apparently came to the rescue of the town. Then, he becomes a little emperor and does whatever he wants.
There is also a subplot with Joe's daughter who is a college student. There is a man in her dorm who she suspects might be out to harm other students.
The dialogue is appropropriate as are the reactions of the inhabitants who see Joe as someone who might ruin the easy life they have. I found the other game warden to be sympathetic but his motivation was misplaced.