It's an idyllic late-summer day in Saddlestring, Wyoming, and game warden Joe Pickett is fly-fishing with his two daughters when he stumbles upon the mutilated body of a moose. Whatever - or whoever - attacked the animal was ruthless: half the animal's face has been sliced away, the skin peeled back from the flesh. Shaken by the sight, Joe starts to investigate what he hopes in an isolated incident.
Days later, after the discovery of a small herd of mutilated cattle, Joe realizes this is something much more terrifying than he could have imagined. Local authorities are quick to label the attacks the work of a grizzly bear, but Joe knows otherwise. The cuts on the moose and the cattle were too clean, too precise, to have been made by jagged teeth. Are the animals only practice for a killer about to move on to another, more challenging prey?
Soon afterward, Joe's worst fears are confirmed. The bodies of two men are found within hours of each other, in separate locations, their wounds eerily similar to those found on the moose and cattle. There's a vicious killer, a modern-day Jack the Ripper, on the loose in Saddlestring - and it appears his rampage is just beginning.
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The first CJ Box book I read
Top five, easily.
When it gets 'western.' Anything with Joe and Nate Romanowski with his cal. .454 Casull–the final showdown at the trailer.
Joe Pickett, I've gotten used to listening to Chandler as Joe and he does a very good job. Kudos to the characterizations of Mary Beth, Nate and Sheriff Bynum His characterization of Bynum makes your skin crawl. You either hate him or are beyond extremely annoyed with him. There's no way you can like Bynum.
There were a couple of 'gotcha' moments with the cattle/moose mutilations. When I first encountered this book, I thought, "CJ Box is Wyoming's answer to S. Florida's Carl Hiassen." (He isn't.) This one is a little more 'woo woo' than most of his books. Still, a good solid mystery.
- Doc Holliday