Joe Picket is in a small aircraft looking for a presumably lost hunter as part of his job as Game Warden in Wyoming. What Joe fears is that Dave Farkus, the hunter in question, is running for his life in the woods that he knows so well. Farkus had left Joe a message regarding a man whom Joe had put behind bars, but who has come back to Saddlestring in the last few days. Farkus sees Dallas Cates with two other men and a woman in a bar he frequents. Dave has been trying to hook up with the bartender, Wanda, for years now, but to no avail. Joe knows that Farkus isn’t lost; he knows the woods too well. But his camping buddy reported him missing when he arrives at camp, a cold beer still in the arm rest, and Dave’s gun left behind, like he left in a hurry. What happens next lets Joe know that he, his family and friends are all in danger now that Cates is back in town.
Joe can’t blame the man for wanting to get revenge. It was all because of Joe that Dallas lost his career as a rodeo star, ending up in prison. But Dallas also blames Joe for the death of his father, his brother, and for sending his mother to the pen as a quadriplegic. Joe feels somewhat guilty about all of that. It was self-defense, but nevertheless, he can see the man’s point of view. When Joe’s daughters are threatened he knows he will do whatever it takes to save his family from Cates’ revenge.
Meanwhile, Joe is looking for a well-organized ring of poachers. For months now he’s gotten reports of animals killed out of season and without permits but so far he hasn’t caught up with them. By the time he reaches the site all that is left is tire tracks and kill guts.
This book was a quick read because I kept wondering what would happen next. Lots of action in this tale of the wild, wild west. This is the first of CJ Box’s novels that I’ve read, but will definitely read more.