Title: Open Season
Author: C. J. Box
As Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett races against time to save an endangered species, he finds himself plunged into a deadly mystery.
Joe Pickett Series
“When a high-powered bullet hits living flesh, it makes a distinctive — pow-WHOP — sound that is unmistakable even at a tremendous distance.” And so it begins for Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game warden who, with the shot of a rifle, is thrust into a race to save not only an endangered species, but also the life and the family he loves.
Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden — especially one like Joe, who won’t take bribes or look the other way — is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, Joe takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he’d had run-ins before, chose Joe’s backyard woodpile to die on. Even when the “outfitter murders,” as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of two more bodies, are quickly solved, Joe continues to investigate, uncomfortable with the easy explanation offered by the local police.
As Joe digs deeper, he discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his front door: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. If word of this gets out, it will destroy any chance for InterWest, a multinational company, to build a natural gas pipeline across the state. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species, and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything and everyone he holds dear.
C. J. Box knows the wilderness and knows how to create a wonderfully authentic, vivid sense of place. Most of all, he knows how to create a memorable new hero: a man who is full of failings, yet still strong and honorable. This is mystery writing at its best — and the beginning of a brilliant new career.