Finally, books for readers who like mysteries, leather and cold cheap beer. This series follows the adventures of Joe Pickett and his work as a game warden in rural Wyoming. We get a glimpse of a man working a thankless job he loves, while he balances marriage and fatherhood. He’s Sherlock Holmes if he (Sherlock) had a heart and a gun rack. Excuse us while we go buy a wide brimmed hat for every day of the week.
Joe is the new game warden in town, and unlike his predecessors he suffers no fools and takes no bribes. When he finds a local hunter he called out dead near his woodpile, he knows it was no accident. Whoever did it also left an endangered animal in said wood pile, whose discovery would come with hefty fines and punishment (when we moved the welcome wagon brought local menus and a pie, but you do you, Wyoming). Throw in some oil pipeline drama, and you get where this is going; west the answer is always west. Will Joe be able to find the killer? Will things end in a shoot-out? We aren’t sure, but probs.
Things get off to a literal bang in this installment as Joe is called to investigate an explosion that killed an Environmental activist. Was it an accident (hint: no)? An Environmental publicity stunt gone wrong (also no)? One of Box’s fortes is fleshing out his characters and making them relatable and this book is no different. You’ll feel for both sides involved in the ranchers vs environmentalist conflict, and the old west take on the whodunit trope is wildly refreshing. Also apparently there’s an exploding cow in this one so, do with that what you will.
We are personally having a day today, so it’s comforting to know that in this one, Joe is just as human as the rest of us. So often heroes are painted as infallible and unwaveringly steady. While Pickett is certainly those things most of the time, this book opens with him being handcuffed to his own truck by an apprehended suspect. There’s also another murder to solve, but after today we just appreciate the fact that Joe can be just as bumbling as the rest of us. See also, there are cults in this one. Now it’s a party.
Joe knows his best friend and fellow game warden wouldn’t commit suicide. SUSPICION. So when he goes to cover for his late friend in the big city of Jackson Hole, he’s already leery. But will his investigation into his friends (not) suicide lead him down the very same path (we mean, no, there are like 800 books), or will he be able to discover the truth? Toss in a bit of long distance marriage and family drama and we have one intriguing listen ahead!
When a local ranch owner goes missing, Joe assumes it was one of her sons looking to inherit. Those are some cold Shakespearean vibes. We would know, we wrote a dissertation on King Lear, want to see it? Look. Look at it! Validate our degree! Whoa, sorry. Anyway. Joe soon discovers the sons suck but don’t suck enough to cause bodily harm to their mother. That’s a low bar. The killer could be an enemy from Joe’s own past, come to collect some revenge. Why though? It sounds like his wife probably makes a bomb BBQ or something equally western. Just steal some of that and call it a day.