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Wolf Pack: A Joe Pickett Novel

Review

Wolf Pack: A Joe Pickett Novel

C. J. Box has conceived, constructed and delivered as terrific a series as one is likely to find in the Joe Pickett novels. Joe is an iconic Wyoming game warden who considers his position to be not so much a job as a calling, with the creatures --- dangerous and otherwise --- under his care second only in importance to his family. The newly published 19th installment finds Box yet again at his best as he presents an explosive and hair-raising tale, set in the contemporary west, where the modern world and all of its problems collide with nature in an unforgettable tableau.

WOLF PACK finds Joe in the driver’s seat of his life in a way that we haven’t seen in quite a while, if ever. He has his job back, a new home, and (as is often the case) a new truck to replace a damaged or totaled old one. Joe and his wife, stalwart and patient Marybeth, are also on the cusp of becoming empty nesters. Meanwhile, Nate Romanowski, Joe’s very capable and dangerous friend, has an announcement that is all but certain to change his own life forever. But the seeming domestic bliss in the Pickett household is not to last. Katelyn Hamm, a game warden in the territory adjacent to Joe’s, spots an anomaly while on patrol in the rustic and primitive area that she calls her own. That would be a drone that is harassing the wildlife there with deadly effect. It invades Katelyn’s territory and then retreats into Joe’s.

"C. J. Box is one of fiction’s most honored authors, and WOLF PACK is a stellar example of why. His combination of iconic and memorable characters and descriptive exotic backdrops is shot through with a plot containing several layers of irony."

A bit of sharp detective work leads Joe to what amounts to a compound of sorts that also ties into one of his own investigations involving a hunter who has been abandoning traps in the area, putting both animals and humans at risk. The folks occupying the compound include a man named Bill Hill, who freely admits that he has been operating the drone but isn’t troubled by any potential consequences. Ironically enough, Bill’s son is dating Joe’s youngest daughter, which puts Joe’s happy home life in a somewhat precarious position. Joe, of course, is driven to do the right thing regardless of ramifications. He becomes doubly determined to do so when a pair of east coast FBI agents show up and begin throwing the might and majesty of the federal government at him, as well as Katelyn, telling them to stand down with regard to Bill over what they consider to be a minor violation at best.

Meanwhile, a trail of violence and destruction beginning several hundred miles to the west of Wyoming is making its way toward Joe in the form of four mysterious strangers --- the Wolf Pack of the title --- who seem at odds with the world and will stop at nothing to complete their mission, killing everyone in their path along the way. Things get really “western,” if you will, in the final fourth of the book when the murderous quartet arrives in Wyoming, and all of the moving parts that Box ever-so-skillfully has assembled effectively come together for an explosive conclusion that echoes beyond the last paragraph.

C. J. Box is one of fiction’s most honored authors, and WOLF PACK is a stellar example of why. His combination of iconic and memorable characters and descriptive exotic backdrops is shot through with a plot containing several layers of irony. All of it resonates resoundingly from first page to last, at which point the reader is fully satisfied yet is still left wanting more. Those who have been on the Joe Pickett ride know what I am talking about. Newcomers to the character and the author have a wonderful experience in store.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 14, 2019

Wolf Pack: A Joe Pickett Novel
by C. J. Box

  • Publication Date: March 12, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525538194
  • ISBN-13: 9780525538196