By: C. J. Box
Narrator: David Chandler
Series: Joe Pickett, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins
Release date: 02-14-11
Genre: Ecology, Mystery, Suspense
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0.
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, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police.
As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the existence of this endangered species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
©2001 C.J. Box (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
Joe Pickett decided as a young boy that he wanted to be a game warden. It isn’t a glamorous or well paying job, but he gets to be outdoors, protecting the ecosystem. He is a new game warden struggling to make ends meet with his pregnant wife and two young daughters. Joe’s trying to do his job the right way without corruption or bribes.
Joe is surprised when his seven-year-old daughter tells him there is a man behind the woodpile. When Joe investigates, he discovers a dead local outfitter. A neighboring game warden, a local deputy and Joe go into the mountain to find the camp of the dead man’s friends. They discover more dead hunters and a survivor gets shot at the site. The local sheriff’s office is quick to declare the severely wounded survivor as the murderer and to close the case. Joe suspects there is a reason this hunter, with whom he had a prior run-in, chose his home to run to. He continues to push into the background, unknowingly stirring up trouble.
Joe doesn’t realize initially that the outfitter left something else in the woodpile as his daughter discovers the creatures and keeps them as secret pets. But someone else knows and is willing to lie, threaten and even kill to keep the secret. As Joe begins to suspect there is an endangered, maybe even thought extinct, species involved in the murders. Can Joe gather the facts he needs to show the truth before his career is ruined and his family suffers physical harm?
Joe is portrayed as a ‘regular Joe’ who sometimes feels inadequate. He plods along determined to uncover the truth. The story slowly, but steadily builds the suspense and danger to Joe and his family to the point where I was catching my breath. I enjoyed the scenes with Joe’s daughters and the critters. I appreciated the facts regarding the job of a game warden and the regulation details regarding endangered and extinct species. The author also explains the negative impact that the community will experience once an extinct species is disclosed. The dilemma between nature and man is an interesting element of the story. Meanwhile, the villains are disgusting and the corruption disturbing. There is foul language which is too bad. The writing is clearly written from a male viewpoint and it flows easily. I enjoyed the mystery and recommend this to crime suspense fans.