Western scenery, baddest bad guys inhabit C.J. Box’s ‘Endangered’


MARCH 31, 2015

 You have little-to-no control.

Deny no more. You’ve finally come to accept it: The future really isn’t  in your hands. You have no control over others, either, which is the hardest lesson to learn. And certainly, in the new book “Endangered” by C.J. Box, there’s no control over who becomes victim of a crime.

Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett was used to carnage. 

He’d seen plenty of blood from man  and beast, but the illegal massacre of an entire lek of politically loaded sage grouse really set him back on his heels. The slaughter had been senseless and near complete, but before he could collect his thoughts or evidence, Pickett received a call that made him forget about dead birds: A girl resembling his daughter, April, had been found in a roadside ditch, beaten half to death.

Immediately, Pickett had his suspicions: Some months before, April had run away with rodeo star Dallas Cates, the cocky youngest son of two irritating, edge-of-the-law lowlifes living nearby. Pickett was even more suspicious when Brenda and Eldon Cates showed up at the sheriff’s office, preemptively, to say that their boy was innocent. 

Dallas, they claimed, had been badly hurt riding a bull. He couldn’t have harmed April and besides, April had broken up with Dallas. Pickett doubted all that was true, but when April’s belongings were discovered in the possession of a local survivalist, he had to put his skepticism aside.

But as April lay in a Billings hospital in a medically induced coma, Pickett learned that she wasn’t the only VIP patient: His old friend, Nate Romanowski, falconer and sometime outlaw, was also hospitalized, having been shot by persons unknown. Pickett thought Nate had been set up; it appeared he’d been ambushed in the middle of nowhere. Now he, too, was unconscious. Nate’s girlfriend, Olivia Brannan, and his van were missing.

Pickett sensed that the Cates family was somehow involved — but how? Surely it was no coincidence that Pickett’s daughter and his closest friend were both hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Could the clues from one massacre stop another?

No matter where you are in the world, when you’ve got a book by author Box in your hands, you’re in the West. That may be due to a mixture of characters, led by the wonderfully stoic, thoughtful Joe Pickett — or it may be due to the natural beauty of which Box so perfectly describes.

And in “Endangered,” he does a lot of that: Pickett is sent all over Wyoming and into Montana here, which gives Box plenty of room for literary roaming. Meanwhile back home in Saddlestring, we’re left to squirm with new Bad Guys that may be the baddest that Box ever offered.

I wish you could see my copy of this book. I read it hard because it was that good. And yes, this is the latest in a series, but it can be read alone, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. Just be warned: Once you start “Endangered,” your reading time may be out of control.