Being a game warden in Wyoming is no day at the beach, as C.J. Box proves time and time again. The job involves keeping in line hunters armed with guns, poachers intent on thwarting the law, unpredictable and oftentimes brutal weather, and, of course, wild animals. But this time around, Joe Pickett also has to contend with drones that are causing animals to panic, stampede, and die, a couple of obnoxious agents from the FBI, and a trio of assassins who are on a killing spree. Makes one want to wish for a boring desk job.
That’s not Joe, however, and he is very good at his job. He’s rebounded from his last adventure which found him ousted from his post and his house burned to the ground. He has now been reinstated and not only has a spacious new home, but a brand new green pickup. Joe is out on his rounds when three things happen. First, he finds the mutilated body of a bobcat, its rear leg caught in a steel trap. Whoever set the trap had violated rules which require hunters to check their tracks within a certain time frame to prevent an animal from suffering a long, agonizing death. Second, he receives a call from another game warden, Katlyn Hamm, about a drone that is terrorizing animal herds. Third, a rancher, Herman Klein, calls to say that wolves are killing his cows. Joe knows he will need to follow up on the trap, the drone, and the wolves.
Although the hunter had affixed a sticker to the trap with his name and address, locating the man proves to be more difficult than Joe expected. And neutralizing the drone presents a challenge. They can’t just shoot it out of the air, since it soars higher than any projectile would be capable of reaching. Enter Joe’s friend, Nate Romamowski, a falconer who is fairly confident that his birds can intercept and down the drone. Which they indeed do. But that success backfires. Two FBI agents visit Katelyn and then Joe telling them to back off. Whoever is flying the drones is under FBI protection and saving “millions of people” trumps a few hers of animals being harmed by the drone.
The FBI agents, and many other officials, make the mistake of thinking they know the Wyoming area better than Joe. When the proverbial crap hits the fan, Joe and Nate will be the ones to save the day, although not everyone.
Box must be doing fabulous things for Wyoming tourism, because every time I finish one of his mysteries, I want to pack my bags and go.
Top photo: Bigstock