Following his last high-stakes outing that resulted in his employment being terminated by the new governor, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is officially reinstated and back on the job in the latest must-read novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author C.J. Box.
When a herd of mule deer take off running from a high-tech drone, some of them dying in the process, Shell County game warden Katelyn Hamm tracks the small, unmanned aircraft towards Twelve Sleep County, which happens to be Joe Pickett’s district. Joe, who was recently fired after clashing with the new governor, only to have his job saved by the former (and fan-favorite) governor, Spencer Rulon, shares Hamm’s outrage and begins asking around, seeing if any locals have encountered the drone before.
Meanwhile, Joe and his wife, Marybeth, are still adjusting to life in their new home and the fact that it will soon be empty of all children. Lucy, the youngest of the three Pickett girls, is wrapping up her final year in high school and will soon leave the house like Sheridan and April before her. It’s just one of the many new things in Joe’s life, a list that also includes the low-tech game warden finally using Bluetooth and a humorous Kanye West reference. But things take a turn when Joe finally tracks down the owner of the drone and is then paid a surprise visit by two FBI agents who ask him to leave the aircraft’s operator alone. The warning, which Joe takes issue with, is more command than request, with little information–besides the fact that staying out of it could save the lives of countless people–passed to Joe and Katelyn Hamm.
In another plot thread, former special forces operator turned outlaw turned law-abiding citizen and master falconer Nate Romanowski is still adjusting to life on the grid when he witnesses a pack of dangerous strangers pass through Wyoming. After some digging, Nate and Joe discover that the four-man team, which consists of one especially lethal woman, is actually a syndicate of the Sinaloa cartel.
As more wildlife continue to die at the hands of the untouchable drone operator, Joe refuses to sit on the sidelines, even if it means going against the FBI, putting him on a collision course with two angry agents and, worse, a team of assassins. Once again, he has his buddy Romanowski by his side, but for the first time, the duo realizes they may have taken on more than they can handle . . . and that’s before Joe discovers that someone he loves dearly might just be caught up in the middle of everything.
Reading Box’s new book each year and following Joe, Marybeth, Nate Romanowski, and others is similar to catching up with old friends you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a real treat, especially for longtime fans of the series. Nobody has ever developed a family the way Box has with the Picketts over the course of nineteen novels. Whereas most series are losing steam and becoming repetitive this deep into their run, Box continues to find brilliant new ways to shake things up. That includes a number of shocking revelations here, all of them too good to spoil in this review, that’ll stun diehard fans who know all too well that Box is capable of landing hard-hitting twists when you least expect them.
C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett franchise is good enough to go toe-to-toe with any other series in print today, regardless of genre . . . and Wolf Pack is the most unexpected, relentless, and action-packed novel he’s ever written.
Author: C.J. Box
Series: Joe Pickett #19
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 9.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.