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by C J Box

Category: Fiction / Crime
369 pages; ISBN: 0-399-15045-5

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Coletta Ollerer


Joe Pickett, a game warden living in Wyoming, comes upon Lamar Gardiner, an official of the Forest Service, as he is illegally slaughtering a herd of Elk. He takes Lamar into custody but loses control of the situation and Gardiner escapes. The beginning of a forecasted huge snowstorn makes him think twice about going after the perp. He decides he must and finds Lamar pinned to a tree with arrows and a slit throat. He can’t leave him in the wilderness overnight so he manages to get him back to Saddlestring where he presents his body to the Sheriff.

Joe lives in Saddlestring with his wife, Marybeth and daughters, 11 year old Sheridan and 6 year old Lucy. There is another child, a foster daughter whom they took into their home when she had been abandoned by her mother. Her name is April and she is nine. A group of anti-government survivalists come into town and settle themselves at the Battle Mountain Campground. April is shocked and saddened to see her mother among them. The Picketts had petitioned the court for consent to adopt but the presiding judge became ill, further efforts with the courts resulted in lost papers and other delays. Then they received notice that April’s mother, Jeannie Keeley, was coming back for her daughter. The Picketts are saddened to hear Jeannie has actually returned. They are horrified when she abducts April from school and takes her to live with the survivalists.

Joe meets Nate Romanowski when Nate is picked up on suspicion of the murder of Lamar. “Joe stared at Romanowski, and was impressed -- and intimidated -- by his size and his calm. Romanowski stood stock-still, but Joe could see the man’s eyes move from deputy to deputy as they approached.” (p76) Nate is released from jail for lack of evidence and while Joe sees him as a scary, untamed loner he decides to trust him because he feels he cannot trust the `normal’ people in authority around him.

Some misinformed Feds get involved when they believe the real murderer of Lamar Gardiner is being harbored by the survivalists. They surround the survivalist camp and Joe is distraught that something bad might happen to April who is sequestered there with her mother. Joe and Nate work together to bring the situation to a satisfactory close. Everything takes place during a series of very severe storms, some involving the weather.


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