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by C.J. Box
G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2018
400 pages
ISBN: 0399176624

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Joe Pickett had in the past worked on special projects for the governor. But there is a new governor of Wyoming, one that doesn't much like the relationship Pickett had with his predecessor. So Joe was surprised to receive a summons to meet Governor Allen aboard his plane. While the governor wanted Joe's help, it was not a friendly request as from his predecessor, but rather an order for Joe to temporarily take the place of a game warden who apparently left in the middle of an investigation into a missing English woman. If he failed, the threat to Joe's career was clear. Further, under no circumstances was Joe's falconer friend Nate Romanowski to be anywhere near the investigation - as if Joe has any control over anything Nate does.

Tourism is important to Wyoming and most especially to the various dude ranches popping up around the state. Silver Creek Ranch was the most luxurious, most expensive and as fate would have it, the very ranch where Pickett's daughter Sheridan was employed. It is also where the very wealthy Kate Shelford-Longden was staying before she disappeared on her way to the airport. The press both here and overseas had been on the story from the beginning and with no breaks coming, the Governor is understandably anxious to find out what happened.

Joe understands the urgency although he is puzzled by the absence of the game warden of record for the region. When he arrives in town, he finds that not only has the warden left, he obviously left in a hurry leaving most of his belongings behind. If people know why the warden left they aren't talking, or at least not to Pickett.

Before Pickett has time to really get started in the investigation, the sister of the missing woman along with a reporter from England show up and muddy the investigation with their own agendas. And then there is Nate who again appears, wanting Joe to look into why falconers with valid permits are not being allowed to capture and hunt with eagles.

This is the eighteenth book in the series, and is probably my second most favorite thus far. There is, in addition to the main plot of what happened to the English woman, the subplots of the missing game warden and Nate with his eagles. They do all tie together in the end, but it takes awhile to get there. In the meantime, readers are given such a graphic description of a Wyoming winter that they'd best bring an extra afghan to their reading chair.

Once again Nate plays an important part and this time out is perhaps a bit more restrained than in some of the books. Readers learn a little bit more about the history of falconry and how it is practiced in the West today. His subplot brings home an environmental issue created by "clean" wind energy.

I would recommend this book to readers new to the series in that while Pickett's family is mentioned and his daughter Sheridan plays a role in the story, they are for the most part not part of this book. THE DISAPPEARED gives readers a chance to meet Joe Pickett, see him in action and learn enough of his backstory through references to be able to jump in and enjoy the book.

That said, as much as I love Joe Pickett, I would love to see a book with Nate Romanowski as the protagonist.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, March 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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