5 stars out of 5
Quite a few books ago, I discovered this series because the last name of Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is the same as my maiden name. It's unusual enough that I simply had to check out the books - and quickly, Joe made my list of Top 10 favorite heroes. This is the 15th book in the series, and author C.J. Box remains at the top of his game - and yes, Joe is still on that list. And in this one, I found yet another personal tie-in; one of the characters, it seems, shares my March 21 birthday.
The book opens as Joe gets a call from local authorities saying they've found a near-dead young girl along a highway; she's been severely beaten, and it's suspected she's April, the adopted daughter of Joe and his wife Marybeth. Not long ago, the headstrong 18-year-old ran off with champion rodeo cowboy Dallas Cates, upsetting Joe, his wife and daughters Sheridan and Lucy.
Meantime, Joe's old friend and isolationist falconer, Nate Romanowski, has been freed from prison on the condition that he help the FBI track down Wolfgang Templeton, a billionaire who fled the country with Marybeth's mother after running afoul of the law. Nate's been warned to stay away from Joe, but as the story unfolds, the two are drawn close as seemingly unrelated events begin to interconnect (including the near murder of Nate that puts him in the same hospital as April and the disappearance of Nate's girlfriend, Olivia - the one with whom I share a birthday).
Angry over what's happened to April and Nate, upset by an apparently unrelated wholesale slaughter of potentially endangered wild birds and believing that April's rodeo cowboy is responsible for her beating, Joe sets out to find the truth - a truth that puts him in the crosshairs of an unbelievably nasty family and nearly costs him his own life.
This is another winner in the series, which I highly recommend. If possible, I think it's best to start at or near the beginning (Open Season, I believe, is the first, written in 2002), but readers of this one alone should be able to get enough of the background so as to not be lost.
Endangered by C.J. Box (G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2015); 384 pp.