No way forward? No way back? Your time is up when you reach SAVAGE RUN Game warden Joe Pickett is called to a bizarre crime scene deep within the forests of Twelve Sleep County, Wyoming. Famous eco-activist Stewie Woods has been blown up in an explosion, along with his new bride and ten head of cattle. The case is wrapped up too quickly: an environmental publicity stunt gone wrong. But what is the millionaire rancher who owned the cattle hiding? And why is Joe's wife receiving mysterious phone calls from someone claiming to be Stewie Woods? Joe's search for the truth leads him ever deeper into the wilderness of the Bighorn Mountains. With two unlikely allies at his side, and two hired killers on his heels, Joe can't avoid the legendary Savage Run - a treacherous, isolated canyon with no crossing...
It's an hour away from darkness, a bitter winter storm is raging, and Joe Pickett is deep in the forest edging Battle Mountain, shotgun in his left hand, his truck's steering wheel handcuffed to his right - and Lamar Gardiner's arrow-riddled corpse splayed against the tree in front of him. Lamar's murder and the sudden onslaught of the snowstorm warn: Get off the mountain. But Joe knows this episode is far from over. Somewhere in the dense timber, a killer draws his bowstring - with Joe as his prey...
Local authorities are quick to label a rash of animal mutilations as the work of a grizzly bear, but Joe Pickett suspects that something far more sinister is afoot. And when the bodies of two men are found disfigured in the same way, his worst fears are confirmed: A modern-day Jack the Ripper is on the loose - and the killings have just begun.
A good friend and fellow game warden has killed himself, and Joe Pickett's been chosen to temporarily run his district. But Jackson, Wyoming, is a far cry from Joe's hometown of Saddlestring - and it doesn't help that now Joe feels compelled to investigate the circumstances surrounding his friend's suicide. But as he comes closer to the truth, the more his own life spirals out of control - and he realizes that if he isn't careful, he may be Jackson's next victim...
Spring has finally come to Saddlestring, Wyoming, and game warden Joe Pickett is relieved the long, harsh winter is over. However, a dark cloud threatens to spoil the milder weather. Local ranch owner and matriarch Opal Scarlett has vanished under suspicious circumstances. Two of her sons, Hank and Arlen, are battling for control of their mother's multi-million-dollar empire, and their bitter fight threatens to tear the whole town apart. Everyone is so caught up in the brothers' battle that they seem to have forgotten that Opal is still missing. Joe is convinced, though, that one of the brothers murdered their mother. Determined to uncover the truth, he is attacked and nearly beaten to death by Hank Scarlett's new right-hand man on the ranch - a recently arrived stranger who looks eerily familiar... A series of threatening messages and attempts to sabotage Joe's career follow. At first, he thinks the attacks are connected with his investigation of Opal's disappearance, but he soon learns that someone else is after him - someone with a very personal grudge who wants to make Joe pay... and pay dearly.
Joe Pickett, recently fired from his job as a Wyoming game warden, is working on his father-in-law's ranch when he receives a visit from the governor. Governor Rulon - a devious but down-home politico - has a special request, one Joe knows he can't refuse. For weeks, the headlines have been abuzz with the story of Clay McCann, a lawyer who slaughtered four campers in a far-off corner of Yellowstone. After the murders, McCann immediately turned himself in at the nearest ranger station. Seemed like a slam-dunk case for law enforcement - except that the crimes were committed in a thin sliver of land with zero residents and overlapping jurisdiction, the so-called free-fire zone. McCann has taken advantage of an obscure loophole in the law: neither the state nor the federal government can try him for his crime. The worst mass murderer in Wyoming history walks out of jail a free man. Governor Rulon, sensitive to the rising tide of public outrage, wants his own investigation into the murders and will reinstate Joe as a game warden if he'll go to Yellowstone without portfolio to investigate. Joe, happy to get his badge back, even under these circumstances, agrees. It quickly becomes clear to Joe that McCann is deeply involved with some illegal activity taking place in the park - something tremendously lucrative and unusually dangerous. As Joe and his partner Nate Romanowski search for the key to the murders, they discover that it may be hidden in the rugged terrain of the park itself.
It's elk season in the Rockies, but this year one hunter is stalking a different kind of prey. When the call comes in on the radio, Joe Pickett can hardly believe his ears: game wardens have found a hunter dead at a camp in the mountains - strung up, gutted, skinned, and beheaded, as if he were the elk he'd been pursuing. A spent cartridge and a poker chip lie next to his body. Ripples of horror spread through the community, and with a possibly psychotic killer on the loose, Governor Rulon is forced to end hunting season early for the first time in state history - outraging hunters and potentially crippling the state's income from the loss of hunting license revenue. But when the brutal murders eerily coincide with the arrival of radical anti-hunting activist Klamath Moore, Pickett knows the Governor's ruling is the least of his worries. Are the murders the work of a deranged activist or of a lone psychopath with a personal vendetta? As always, Joe Pickett is the governor's go-to man, and he's put on the case to track the murderous hunter, as more bodies - and poker chips - turn up.
Box's ninth novel to feature Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett begins with a bombshell: could Pickett's foster daughter, April, who apparently died six years earlier in Winterkill, still be alive? Tell Sherry April called. A simple phone message that shakes Joe Pickett's oldest daughter Sheridan and the rest of the family to the core. To Joe, it doesn't seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre described in Winterkill six years before. He was there, and he was unable to save her. But Sheridan starts to believe there's a chance that April is still alive, and her suspicions are confirmed when the person sending texts to her cellphone is able to recall family incidents only April could know. Joe, however, remains wary of the messages. But when the texts start to refer to bad things, and when Marybeth discovers they come from locations throughout the West where vicious murders have taken place, alarm bells go off. Desperate to discover if April is still alive and to save her from possible danger, Joe, Sheridan, and Nate Romanowski take to the road to connect the texts with the crimes. Meanwhile, a dying Chicago mobster named Stenko and a much younger girl cross the country. He's on a mission to reconcile with his extreme environmentalist son before he dies. His son is less interested in reconciliation than in getting his father to repent for the environmental crimes he's committed during his lifetime. He wants his father to become not just carbon neutral, but to reduce his carbon footprint to below zero - as if he'd never even existed. As the path of Stenko and his companions starts to cross with Joe, Sheridan, and Nate, the question is raised: Is this young girl April or are the Picketts the victims of a cruel hoax?
A Maxim Jakubowski Great Male Crime Sleuth. Game Warden Joe Pickett is a major star in the USA, having already headlined over a dozen cases. His adventures are finally being released properly in the UK at the rate of a title per month. This is chronologically his 10th outing. A gentle, married man with a keen sense of justice, he patrols the Wyoming Mountains and rights wrongs with a passion. The cowboy, with obligatory hat, as modern sleuth.
Joe Pickett's outlaw companion, Nate Romanowski, faces the battle of his life: one he may very likely lose. Nate knows too much about Special Forces Black Ops in Afghanistan - and he must be silenced. Nate's former comrades know the time has come to end the threat once and for all. And they do it by incorporating many of the same tactics that served their unique and secret unit well in the Middle East: recruiting locals. Nate can trust no one except Joe Pickett, who is constrained by his oath and duty to the law and the state. But Nate must involve Joe because he knows his enemy will strike at his friends in order to draw him out. The entire Pickett family will be a target. Nate can only fight back outside the law, and Joe must make a choice: help his friend or keep the peace?