Endangered: A Joe Pickett Novel by C.J. Box


Reviewed by Allen Hott

Joe Pickett is a Wyoming game warden who is the center of many of Box’s stories. He is somewhat of a favored individual in Wyoming because the current governor is a believer in governmental involvement in the state’s wildlife. He is a fan of Pickett and uses him quite extensively in trying to keep things orderly.

As Endangered opens Joe is surveying the remains of LEK 64. A LEK is a state designation of annual gatherings of sage grouse or prairie chicken which are a protected species. It appears that someone destroyed these grouse as nothing appears to be left except a few feathers and some truck tire marks. After searching for survivors Joe begins putting what evidence he finds into his truck.

He is interrupted by a phone call from the sheriff in the county where Joe lives. Mike Reed, the sheriff, advises that they have found a young woman who has been savagely beaten and left in a ditch. She is unconscious and has no belongings with here but Mike feels that she is April, Joe’s adopted daughter.

April had left home recently and was traveling with her supposed boyfriend Dallas Cates who is a rodeo rider. Joe immediately suspects Cates because he has had run-ins with the entire Cates family quite often in the past. The chief tells him that he felt the same way and immediately checked with the Cates’ but was informed that Dallas was at home and had been for a few days after being severely injured in a toss from a bull he had been riding.

Now Joe is faced with two separate investigations although there is little doubt that the one involving his daughter has his utmost attention. And especially since that occurred his best friend, Nate Romanowski, has also been found in a unconscious state and might even die. Nate’s girlfriend and her van are both missing it seems from the same episode.

Joe’s family is very upset as the doctors are not able to predict if and when April will come out of the coma that she is still in. Now Nate is down the hall in the same condition.

Meanwhile a possible suspect in April’s beating is jailed but then that possibility appears to dissolve as another strange thing occurs in the jail where he is being housed.

However then a bright spot seems to appear for Joe as by tying together two different sets of sightings by individuals he believes he has insight on the culprits who shot up LEK 64 and possibly who took Nate’s girlfriend and her van.

From here out the plot thickens but in some ways begins to almost unravel as these two happenings pull together a lot of pieces. Joe does prove out his theory on the LEK massacre and is still pushing on April’s beating while she continues in a coma. But the ending will satisfy most readers!

Box keeps the reader in on the action with great dialogue, great visualizations of the scenery and plenty of character insight. Any one reading this book and reading Box for the first time will surely look for more of his stories.

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