Reading the West 6-21-10 |

Reading the West 6-21-10

For all of you Joe Pickett fans out there, he’s back and this time he is working a puzzling case in southern Wyoming’s Sierra Madres that involves elk poaching and missing athletes, and which, as might be expected, puts Joe in more than a bit of danger.

For those of you who don’t have a clue who Joe Pickett is, I can only say, “Where have you been?”

C.J. Box launched this Wyoming game warden character years ago with “Open Season.” Pickett is an average, run-of-the-mill game warden who finds himself constantly challenged by those people who would dare to violate game laws, and even the laws of nature. He’s been around for other books including “Savage Run,” “Winterkill,” “Trophy Hunt,” “Out of Range,” “In Plain Sight,” “Free Fire,” “Blood Trail” and “Below Zero.”

The newest novel, “Nowhere to Run,” opens with Joe heading into the high country of the Sierra Madres east of Baggs, Wyo., on the trail of someone who stole an elk from some bow hunters. It was to be his last patrol in the area; he has only one day of work before he can leave his exile in Baggs and return to his home in Saddlestring, Wyo., reuniting with his wife and daughters. And Joe is more than ready to go home.

Some game wardens, with only one day left on an assignment to a remote location, might have ignored the butchered elk and left it for the man or woman who would replace them. But not Joe Pickett. It was his job to deal with game crimes and he would do it to the best of his ability whether it was his first day on the job or his last. And in this case, it might just be the last.

The men he meets in the mountains who are no doubt responsible for the elk theft, have broken other laws as well: they are fishing without a license and have too many fish in their creel. Joe writes them a ticket and announces plans to haul them in to court when suddenly his world is torn asunder and he finds himself in as tight a spot as he’s ever been.

Like all of the Pickett books, the mystery deepens as Joe digs into the case. Where is the runner who went missing while training for the Olympics in these mountains? Who is the mysterious woman who provides aid to Joe after his run-in with the elk meat thieves? What are these Michigan politicians doing in Wyoming?

Box (I know him as Chuck because we worked together years ago at the Saratoga Sun newspaper) always says he writes “Wyoming from the inside out,” and if you know Wyoming (its news, people and places), you will recognize some of this story line – even some of the character’s will have meaning to insiders. And for those of you who don’t know Wyoming as well as Chuck and I, it is still a great book.

Chuck will be signing “Nowhere to Run” and his other novels at the Grand Encampment Museum on July 17 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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