by C. J. Box
4 stars - a very satisfying mystery series
ALR Green - happy yellow lab as sidekick
Hard to believe, but this is already the 14th Joe Pickett mystery. It isn't easy to keep a series going that long without things going off the rails, but Mr. Box has the touch.
Joe Pickett, Wyoming game warden, and special troubleshooter for the governor is assigned to find out what's up on a ranch in the Black Hills. Some super rich fat cat has inexplicably selected one of the most impoverished counties of Wyoming to build his grotesquely huge ranch. Nobody is sure where his money comes from, but rumor has it that it just might be from brokering hits on unsavory characters. Uh oh.
Joe is supposed to go for a couple of days, have a look around, and report back home. No biggie. Except, well, Joe just isn't the kind of guy who can look and not act and before long he's embroiled in some pretty nasty business that appears to involve the entire county. Yikes!
There are a couple of things which keep this series fresh for me. Primarily, that there is more going on than the mystery itself. Joe's family members have always been important characters in the book and this time around is no exception. In addition to trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys, he's got one daughter worried about a creepy character in her college dorm and another daughter hell bent on taking off with a shady rodeo champion.
Then of course there is the setting itself. Wyoming, big country, wild, lots to see. Mr. Box does a great job describing the western territory, the climate, the wildlife, and the way of life.
So while I have lost interest in some mystery series that got off to a good start, I'm still scanning the new release shelves at the library for the next Joe Pickett adventure.