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by C.J. Box
G.P. Putnam's Sons, March 2019
384 pages
ISBN: 0525538196

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WOLF PACK, by C. J. Box, is Book 19 in the author's gripping series featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett. Each section of this novel begins with a date and a quotation from a different famous source related to a wolf or wolves, and each quotation adds to the depth of what will follow. As the book opens, Katelyn Hamm, game warden in Shell County, which borders Pickett's Saddlestring County, has discovered that someone is playing a deadly game of harassment with local herds of elk and mule deer. While trying to free her vehicle stuck in mud, a herd of mule deer runs panicked around her. A drone, remotely-operated by a mysterious someone, is chasing the wild animals and spooking them into stampeding. This is a deadly thing to do, as it tires the animals, making them vulnerable as prey, and ultimately killing some of them.

On the other side of the mountain, Joe Pickett, newly reinstated as game warden, has been looking into a report that wolf packs have been sighted in the area, although they were not supposed to be any. Katelyn enlists Pickett's help in finding the perpetrators of the criminal drone activity, and he in turn gets help from his long time friend, the enigmatic outlaw falconer Nate Romanowsky.

Through much investigation, Pickett and Nate discover that the drone operator may be someone living in a huge spread hidden from public access, far from town. When Pickett goes to confront the person there, he is basically told that he cannot arrest or prosecute him, that he is somehow either above the law or protected in some way. And one of many twists here is that Pickett's daughter Lucy, now a high school senior, is dating this man's son.

Pickett tries to contact Katelyn to tell her what he has discovered, but she will not speak to him. She is avoiding contact with him, and gets her husband Ryle to intercede and lie about her whereabouts. This causes more friction in her relationship with her husband and their argument has tragic consequences. Pickett is soon told by authorities to leave the case alone, which is something that he cannot do, even though it is the FBI that has warned him off the investigation - and even though he is told that thousands of lives would be at risk if he pursues the person he has found.

Meanwhile, we have seen some nasty goings on that seem unrelated to this situation. A gang of murderers takes over the home of a man and his wife and the members of this group torture the couple for information about someone named Ernie Mecca. The pack is led by Abriella, a merciless, cold-blooded fanatic, feared even by her co-killers. And when another couple is killed, we suspect this pack as well. There are many suspenseful moments in this novel, and not all the characters we have come to know and love will survive to people another book, but eventually C.J. Box ties up the loose ends and all the wolf packs, both human and animal, are accounted for.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, March 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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