Vicious Circle (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

vicious circleAs usual the action in Joe Pickett stories kicks in pretty quickly. In this one Joe, the Wyoming Game Warden, is in a plane trying to find Dave Farkus who has turned up missing in the mountains. Farkus who is always in and out of Joe’s life somehow appears to be lost and Joe’s boss sends Joe with the other searchers. The pilot is using FLIR which is a forward looking infrared device that picks up heat or light. Just as the pilot is turning to return to base Joe spots not only a figure down in the woods but then three flashes right near the figure.

However they do not have enough gas to circle around again so they head back to base. In the following days the sheriff decides that a posse needs to be sent out to where the body of Farkus is thought to be. Joe goes along with an undersheriff who appears to be acting somewhat strangely around the body when they find it. More later in the story on this.

It appears that since Dallas Cates and two others were just released from prison and Cates appears to have harbored some resentment against Farkus chances are those are the three who caused the flashes while shooting Farkus. Joe is concerned for his family since he knows Cates has harbored ill feelings for the Pickett family. Strangely enough one of Joe’s daughters was upset with her family and decided to follow around with Cates. The daughter had always been a rodeo person and had won honors as a performer so it fell into place that she would be a Cates follower. He was a very well-known professional rider who traveled the circuit when he could stay out of trouble.

While Joe continues in his game warden duties chasing a new group of poachers he still is also trying to locate Cates and his two accomplices. It gets even dicier as the body of the woman bartender who had been serving the Cates crew now turns up missing.

Also there appears a strangely dressed woman with tattoos on her arms who attempts to get to Joe’s daughters. On one attempt she ends up wounding a daughter’s friend in what is assumed to be a effort to get the daughter.

Strangely enough the sheriff catches Cates. He is put on trial but then a well-known and somewhat shady expensive attorney pulls off an unbelievable courtroom tactic that frees Cates to Joe’s misbelief and chagrin.

More and more strange and scary incidents continue to plague the Pickett family so against their better judgement Joe’s wife and daughters move in with Joe’s mother-in-law who has just recently married the attorney from the trial!

Joe finally does meet up again with Nate Romanowski, his old friend, who hovers between being a great friend and occasionally being on the wrong side of the law. Joe and Nate however always manage to work together in a semi- legal method to do things that are necessary to bring about justice and peace.

And that is exactly what Nate brings to the table in this one. It is a really interesting read with a great finish that has Box’s fans already ready for the sequel!