Laconic Joe Pickett returns to his slightly offbeat duties in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains in C. J. Box's Savage Run
. Joe is called to the scene when an exploding cow kills a famous ecoterrorist, Stewie Woods, and his bride of three days, who were peacefully spiking trees. A visit to the cow's pugnacious owner leaves Joe defensive, angry, and curious: Why doesn't the rancher ask any questions about the bizarre accident that happened on his land? Then Joe's wife, Marybeth, begins receiving phone calls from her high-school boyfriend-the peculiarly healthy-sounding Stewie Woods. Stewie may or may not be alive, but his old pal Hayden Powell and other environmental activists are all turning up deceased in strange circumstances. As the body count climbs, Joe tries to sort out the bad guys, the good guys, and the truly dead guys in this sometimes funny, sometimes angry sequel to Box's award-winning first novel, Open Season
. Box depicts the spare beauty and cussed individualism of the intermountain West with the sure hand of a seasoned writer. --Barrie Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
Box's second novel offers more graceful writing than his overhyped debut, Open Season (2001), along with a little humor and a more fluid plot line. Wyoming Game Warden Joe Picket is still fallible, his strong sense of duty, honor and justice again naOvely running afoul of the greedy villains bent on misusing the exquisite, vividly described landscape. A pair of well-drawn, unconventional hit men, one a conscienceless killer, are murdering environmentalists. First, a powerful explosion blows up "infamous environmental activist" Stewie Woods and his new wife while they're sabotaging logging in the forest near Saddlestring, Pickett's headquarters. The sheriff thinks it was an accident, but Pickett is unsure. Then a proenvironment congressman, a writer, a lawyer and an animal-rights activist all die under questionable circumstances. When Pickett's wife, Marybeth, who grew up with Woods, receives mysterious phone calls from "Stewie," Pickett starts his own investigation. A spectacular chase through a treacherous, isolated canyon with a secret escape route is well paced and riveting. The suspense ratchets up another notch as Pickett and an unexpected ally confront the man who ordered the crimes. The author shows both sides of environmental issues - the activists' insistence on a pristine natural habitat countered by the Westerners' view of the land as their livelihood - and pulls no punches when describing how humans can brutalize one another. This fine follow-up reinforces Box's status as a first-class talent.
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