Joe Pickett investigates a murder that hits close to home in this thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
“I would say that C. J. Box is at the top of his form, but the top just keeps moving ever upward...A nonstop thrill ride not to be missed!”—Bookpage
When Earl Alden is found dead, dangling from a wind turbine, his wife, Missy, is arrested. Unfortunately for Joe Pickett, Missy is his much-disliked mother-in-law, and he’s not sure what to do—especially since it looks like Missy is guilty as sin.
But then things happen to make Joe wonder: Is Earl's death what it appears to be? Is Missy being set up? He has the county DA and sheriff on one side, his wife on the other, his estranged friend Nate on a lethal mission of his own, and some powerful interests breathing down his neck. Whichever way this goes, it’s not going to be good...
About the Author
C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Joe Pickett series, five stand-alone novels, and the story collection Shots Fired. He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and two Barry awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 and a French Elle magazine literary award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He and his wife Laurie split their time between their home and ranch in Wyoming.
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Table of Contents
ALSO BY C. J. BOX
THE JOE PICKETT NOVELS
Nowhere to Run
In Plain Sight
Out of Range
THE STAND-ALONE NOVELS
Three Weeks to Say Goodbye
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Box, C. J.
1. Pickett, Joe (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Game wardens—Fiction.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
To the memory of David Thompson . . . and Laurie, always
When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.
He set out after breakfast on what would be his last day on earth.
He was an old man, but like many men of his generation with his wealth and station, he refused to think of himself that way. Deep in his heart, he honestly entertained the possibility he would never break down and perhaps live forever, while those less driven and less successful around him dropped away.
In fact, he’d recently taken to riding a horse over vast stretches of his landholdings when the weather was good. He rode a leggy black Tennessee walker; sixteen and a half hands in height, tall enough that he called for a mounting block in order to climb into the saddle. The horse seemed to glide over the sagebrush flats and wooded Rocky Mountain juniper-dotted foothills like a ghost, as if the gelding strode on a cushion of air. The gait spared his knees and lower back, and it allowed him to appreciate the ranch itself without constantly being interrupted by the stabs of pain that came from six and a half decades of not sitting a horse.
Riding got him closer to the land, which, like the horse, was his. He owned the sandy and chalky soil itself and the thousands of Black Angus that ate the same grass as herds of buffalo had once grazed. He owned the water that flowed through it and the minerals beneath it and the air that coursed over it. The very air.
Although he was a man who’d always owned big things—homes, boats, aircraft, cars, buildings, large and small corporations, race horses, oil wells, and for a while a small island off the coast of North Carolina—he loved this land most of all because unlike everything else in his life, it would not submit to him (well, that and his woman, but that was a different story). Therefore, he didn’t hold it in contempt.
So he rode over his ranch and beheld it and talked to it out loud, saying, “How about if we compromise and agree that, for the time being, we own each other?”
As the old man rode, he wore a 40X beaver silverbelly short-brimmed Stetson, a long-sleeved yoked shirt with snap buttons, relaxed-fit Wranglers, and cowboy boots. He wasn’t stupid and he always packed a cell phone and a satellite phone for those locations on his ranch where there was no signal. Just in case.
He’d asked one of his employees, an Ecuadoran named José Maria, to go to town and buy him an iPod and load it up with a playlist he’d entitled “Ranch Music.” It consisted largely of film scores. Cuts from Ennio Morricone like “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” the theme from A Fistful of Dollars, “L’Estasi Dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold),” and “La Resa dei Conti (For a Few Dollars More),” Elmer Bernstein’s theme from The Magnificent Seven, “The Journey,” and “Calvera’s Return,” and Jerome Moross’ theme from The Big Country. Big, wonderful, rousing, swelling, sweeping, triumphalist music from another era. It was music that simply wasn’t made anymore. The pieces were about tough (but fair) men under big skies on horseback, their women waiting for them at home, and bad guys—usually Mexicans—to be vanquished.
In fact, they’d vanquished some Mexicans of their own off the ranch in the last two months, the result of a surreptitious phone call to ICE placed by his wife. Although the Mexican ranch hands worked hard and were great stockmen, she could document how many times they’d refused to show her respect. She blamed their ingrained macho culture. So the immigration folks rounded them up and shipped them away. Their jobs had recently been filled by Ecuadorans like José Maria who were not as accomplished with cattle but were more deferential to his wife.
He threaded his horse up through gnarled bell-shaped stands of juniper. The trees were heavy with clusters of green buds, and the scent within the stand was sweet and heavy and it reminded him of a gin martini. His horse spooked rabbits that shot out from bunches of tall grass like squeezed grapefruit seeds, and he pushed a small herd of mule deer out ahead of him. It had warmed to the mid-seventies, and as the temperature raised so did the insect hum from the ankle-high grass. He hummed, too, along with the theme from The Big Country. He tried to remember the movie itself—Gregory Peck or William Holden?—but that was beyond his recollection. He made a note to himself to ask José Maria to order it from Netflix.
He paused the iPod and stuffed the earbuds and cord into his breast pocket as he urged his horse up the gentle slope. The thrumming of insects gave way to the watery sound of wind in the tops of the trees. The transition from an earth sound to the sounds of the sky thrilled him every time, but not nearly as much as what he knew he’d see when he crested the hill.
Clamping his Stetson tight on his head with his free right hand as he cleared the timber, the old man urged his horse to step lively to the top. Now the only sound was the full-throated Class Five wind, but there was something folded inside it, almost on another auditory level, that was high-pitched, rhythmic, and purposeful. He had once heard José Maria describe the sound as similar to a mallard drake in flight along the surface of a river: a furious beating of wings punctuated by a high-pitched but breathy squeak-squeak-squeak that meant the bird was getting closer.
From the crown of the hill, he looked down at the sagebrush prairie that stretched out as far as his eyes could see until it bumped up against the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. And it was all his.
From the gray and gold of the prairie floor, across five thousand acres, on a high ridge, sprung a hundred wind turbines in various stages of construction where just a year ago there had been nothing but wind-sculpted rock poking out of the surface like dry land coral. A fresh network of straight-line dirt roads connected them all. The finished turbines—and there were only ten of them operational—climbed two hundred fifty feet into the sky. He loved the fact that each tower was a hundred feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. And they were lined up tall and white and perfect in a straight line along the humpbacked spine of a ridge in the basin. All ten working turbines had blades attached. The blades spun, slicing through the Wyoming sky, making that unique whistling sound that was . . . the sound of money.
And he thought: Ninety more to go.
Behind the row of turbines was another row of towers only, and another, then seven more rows of ten each in different stages of construction. The rows were miles apart from each other, but he was far enough away on the top of the hill to see the whole of it, from the gaping drill-holes at the rear where the hundreds of tons of concrete would be poured into the ground to the bolted foundations of the towers and finally to the turbines and blades that would be built on top. They reminded him of perfectly white shoots of grass in various stages of growth, sprouting from the dirt straight into the sky.
The blades on the completed turbines had a diameter of forty-four meters or one hundred forty-four feet each. They would spin at close to one hundred miles per hour. Semi-trucks had delivered huge stacks of the blades and they lay on the sagebrush surface like long white whale bones left by ships.
He was so far away from his wind farm that the construction equipment, the pickups and cranes and earth-moving equipment, looked like miniatures.
That first line of almost-completed turbines stood like soldiers, his soldiers, facing straight into the teeth of the wind. They spun with defiance and strength, transforming the wind that had denuded the basin of humans and homesteads more than a hundred years ago into power and wealth.
And he waved his hat and whooped at the sheer massive scale of it.
Meeting the supplier-slash-general-contractor for the project the year before had been a spectacular stroke of luck, one of many in his life. Here was a man, a desperate man, with a dream and connections and, most of all, a line on a supply of turbines at a time when the manufacturers couldn’t turn out enough of them. This desperate man appeared at the right place and right time and had been literally days away from ruin. And the old man stumbled upon him and seized the opportunity, as he’d seized opportunities before, while those around him dithered and stuttered and consulted their attorneys, chief financial officers, and legislators. That chance meeting and the opportunity that came because of it had saved the old man a million dollars a turbine, or $100 million total. The old man had gone with his gut and made the deal, and here in front of him was the result of his unerring instinct.
Funny thing was, the old man thought, it wasn’t the wind farm that would really make him the big money. For that, he would look eastward toward Washington, D.C. That was the epicenter of the breached dam that was sending cash flooding west across the country like waves from a tsunami.
When he heard a rumble of a vehicle motor, he instinctively swept his eyes over the wind farm for the source of the noise, but he quickly decided he was too far away to discern individual sounds.
Since there weren’t any cows to move or fences to fix behind him, he doubted it was José Maria or his fellow Ecuadorans coming out his way. He turned in the saddle and squinted back down the hill he had come, but could see nothing.
The old man clicked his tongue and turned his horse back down the hill. As he rode down through the junipers, the harsh winds from on top began to mute, although they didn’t quell into silence. They never would.
Again, he heard a motor coming, and he rode right toward it.
When he emerged from the heavy-scented timber, he smiled when he recognized the vehicle and the driver. The four-wheel drive was on an ancient two-track coming in his direction. He could hear the grinding of the motor as well as the spiny high-pitched scraping of sagebrush from beneath the undercarriage. Twin plumes of dust from the tires were snatched away by the wind.
He waved when he was a hundred feet from the vehicle, and was still waving when the driver braked and got out holding a rifle.
“Oh, come on,” the old man said, but suddenly he could see everything in absolute gut-wrenching clarity.
The first bullet hit him square in the chest with the impact of a hitter swinging for the upper deck. Shattered his iPod.
If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.
An hour before dawn broke on Monday, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett backed his green Ford pickup down his driveway and called dispatch in Cheyenne.
“This is GF53 heading out,” he said. The pickup was less than a year old but the new-car feel of the suspension had long been pounded out of it on rugged two-track roads, through grille-high sagebrush, and another hard winter’s worth of snowdrifts. As always, he was crowded inside the cab by clothing, maps, gear, weapons, and electronics. The department refused to buy or provide standard crew-cab trucks for the fifty-four wardens in Wyoming for fear taxpayers would object to the showy extravagance, even though new single-cab pickups were so rare they needed to be special-ordered. Inside the cab it smelled of fresh coffee from his travel mug and an unusually flatulent Tube, his male corgi/Labrador mix, who was already curling up on the passenger seat. The newest addition to his standard arsenal was the Ruger .204 rifle mounted to the top of his cab for dispatching wounded or maimed game animals with a minimum of sound or impact. Since Joe’s record with departmental vehicles was by far the worst in the agency, he’d vowed to baby this pickup until it hit maximum mileage, something that had not yet happened in his career.
“Good morning, Joe,” the dispatcher said, with a lilt. The dispatchers found that phrase amusing and never got tired of saying it.
“Morning,” he said. “I’ll be in the east break lands in areas twenty-one and twenty-two this morning, checking antelope hunters.”
“Ten-four.” She paused, no doubt checking her manual. Then: “That would be the Middle Fork and Crazy Woman areas?”
As he began to sign off, she asked, “How are you doing? You had to take your daughter to college yesterday, right? How did it go?”
“Don’t ask. GF53 out.”
The day before, Sunday, Joe had been out of uniform, out of sorts, and nearly out of gas as he approached Laramie from the north in his wife Marybeth’s aging minivan. It was the last week of August, but a front had moved in from the northwest, and thin waves of snow buffeted the van and shoved it toward the shoulder of the two-lane highway.
“Oh my God, is that snow?” sixteen-year-old foster daughter April said with contemptuous incredulity in a speech pattern she’d mastered that emphasized every third or fourth word. “It can’t snow in friggin’ August!” April was slight but tough, and she had a hard edge to her look and style that seemed provocative even when it likely wasn’t intended to be. As she matured, she looked frighteningly like her mother Jeannie, who had never made it to forty. Same light blonde hair. Same accusing narrow eyes.
Joe and Marybeth exchanged glances. They’d had a discussion with no conclusion about whether frigging was an acceptable word in their family.
April said, “When I go to college, I want someplace warm. Someplace way far away from here.”
“What makes you think you’ll go to college?” Lucy, their fourteen-year-old said just soft enough that perhaps her parents in the front seat wouldn’t hear. Joe thought Lucy’s mutter had been below the belt, even if possibly true. Lucy was usually more diplomatic and nonconfrontational, so when she did unleash a zinger, it hit twice as hard as if one of the other girls had said it. Lucy was small herself, but not angular like April. Lucy was rounded in perfect proportion, and had blonde hair and striking features and the grace of a cat. Strangers were beginning to stare, Joe had noticed. He didn’t like that.
Marybeth heard everything going on in the backseat, and turned to try to head off what could come next. Joe checked his rearview mirror for April’s reaction and saw she was coiled and close to violence. Her face was drawn and red, her nostrils flared, and she was focused completely on Lucy sitting next to her.
“Girls, please,” Marybeth said.
“Did you hear what she friggin’ said?” April hissed.
“Yes, and it was inappropriate,” Marybeth said. “Wasn’t it, Lucy?”
A beat, then Lucy said, “Yes.”
“So apologize already,” April said. “I always have to friggin’ apologize when I say something stupid.”
“Sorry,” Lucy whispered.
“This is an emotional day,” Marybeth said, turning back around in her seat.
Joe shifted his gaze in the mirror and caught Lucy silently mouthing, “But it’s true.”
And April leaned into Lucy and ran a finger across her throat as if it were a knife. Lucy shrugged it away, but Joe felt a chill go up his back from the gesture.
“I hope we can get through this day without fireworks,” Marybeth said, missing what was going on in the backseat. “Waterworks is another thing.”
Her phone rang in her purse, and she retrieved it and looked at the display and put it back. “My mother,” she said. “She has a knack for calling me at just the wrong time.”
“We need to get some gas,” Joe said. “We’re running on empty.”
A gas station, announced by a green sign that read:
ROCK RIVER POPULATION 235
. . . was just ahead.
Sheridan, their nineteen-year-old daughter, was going to college. The University of Wyoming in Laramie was forty-five minutes to the south on the hump of the high plains. She followed them on the exit ramp in their newly acquired fifteen-year-old Ford Ranger pickup with the bed filled with cardboard boxes of everything she owned. Joe had lashed a tarp over the load before they left Saddlestring four hours before, but the wind had ripped long rents into it. Luckily, the rope held the shards down. He’d spent most of the trip worrying about it.
Marybeth either didn’t notice the ruined tarp or more likely didn’t think about it while staring out the window and dabbing her eyes with dozens of tissues that were now crumpled near her shoes on the floorboards like a bird’s nest.
Joe wished he’d brought his winter coat against the wind and cold. This was a place where the wind always blew. The trees, as sparse as they were on top, were gnarled and twisted like high country gargoyles. Both sides of the highway were bordered with a long ten-foot-high snow fence. It howled from the north, rocking both the van and Sheridan’s pickup as he filled the tanks with gasoline.
He tightened the ropes across the bed of her pickup and checked to make sure none of her boxes had opened. Joe imagined her clothes blowing out and rocketing across the terrain until they snagged on bits of sagebrush.
Joe Pickett was in his mid-forties, slim, of medium height and build, with brown eyes and a perpetual squint, as if he was always assessing even the simplest things. He wore old Cinch jeans, worn Ariat cowboy boots, a long-sleeved yoked collar shirt with snap buttons, and a tooled belt that read JOE. Under the seat of the van were his holstered .40 Glock 23 semi-automatic service weapon, bear spray, cuffs, and a citation book. There had been a time when mixing his family and his weapons had struck him as discordant. But over the years, he’d made some enemies and he’d come to accept, if not embrace, his innate ability to so often find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’d learned to accept suspicion and not feel guilty about checking over his shoulder. Even on freshman move-in day at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Sheridan watched him fill her tank and secure the load and gave him a little wave of thanks from inside the cab. He tried to grin back. Sheridan had blonde hair and green eyes like Marybeth and Lucy. She was mature beyond her years, but to Joe she looked vulnerable and frail, like a little girl. She wore a gray SADDLESTRING LADY WRANGLERS hoodie and had her hair tied back. When he looked at her behind the steering wheel, he saw her at seven years old, trying again and again with skinned knees and epic determination to ride her bike more than ten feet down the road without crashing. Until that moment, that very moment when they exchanged glances, it hadn’t hit him she was leaving them.
Sheridan, after all, was his buddy. Apprentice falconer, struggling athlete, first child, big sister. She was the one who would come out into the garage and hand him tools while he tried to repair his pickup or snow machine. She was the one who really wanted to ride along with him on patrol, and she made valiant, if vain, attempts to try to get him interested in new music and social media. She wouldn’t go far away, he hoped. She’d be back for summer and the holidays.
Joe swung into the van and struggled to close the door against the wind. When it latched, there was a charged silence inside. Marybeth took him in and said, “Are you all right?”
He wiped his eyes dry with his sleeve. “The wind,” he said.
Four hours later, having gotten Sheridan settled in at her dorm room in Laramie, met her roommate, had a final meal together at Washakie Center, shed more tears, and dodged two more phone calls from Marybeth’s mother, they were on their way back to Saddlestring. No words were spoken in the van. Everyone was consumed with his or her own thoughts, and the situation reminded Joe of the ride home from a memorial service. Well, maybe not that bad . . .
Marybeth’s phone burred again in her purse, and she grabbed it. Joe could tell from her expression she was both hopeful and fearful that it would be Sheridan calling.
Marybeth sighed deeply. “Mom again,” she sighed. “Maybe I ought to take it.”
After a moment, Marybeth said, “What do you mean, he’s gone?”
Marybeth’s mother, Missy, was back on the ranch near Saddlestring she shared with her new husband, the multi-millionaire developer and media mogul Earl Alden. He was known as The Earl of Lexington, because that’s where he’d originally come from when he was a mere millionaire. Between them, Marybeth’s mother—Missy Vankueren Longbrake Alden—and The Earl were the largest landholders in northern Wyoming now that they’d married and combined ranches. Missy had acquired her spread by divorcing a third-generation landowner named Bud Longbrake, who’d discovered during the divorce proceedings what the pre-nup she had him sign actually said.
The Earl was Missy’s fifth husband. She’d traded up with each one after her first (and Marybeth’s realtor father) died young in a car wreck. After a five-month mourning period, Missy married a doctor the day his divorce papers were finalized, then an Arizona developer and U.S. Congressman who was later convicted of fraud, then rancher Bud Longbrake. The Earl was her greatest triumph. Joe couldn’t imagine a sixth wedding. Missy was in her mid-sixties. Although she was still a stunner—given the right light and enough time to prepare—she’d met The Earl as her string was running out. Luckily for Missy, she took—and made—her last desperate shot just as her biological buzzer went off. Joe and Missy had a complicated relationship, as she put it. Joe couldn’t stand her, and she still wondered out loud why her favorite daughter—the one with pluck and promise—had stuck with that game warden all these years.
Marybeth said to her mother, “I’ll ask Joe what he thinks and call you back, okay?” Then, after a pause, she said irritably, “Well, I care. Good-bye.”
Joe snorted, but kept his eyes on the road.
“Mom says Earl went out riding this morning and hasn’t come back. He was supposed to be home for lunch. She’s worried something happened to him—an accident or something.”
He glanced at his wristwatch. “So he’s three hours late.”
“Has she done anything about it besides call you over and over?”
Marybeth sighed. “She asked José Maria to take a truck out and look for him.”
“She says Earl isn’t a very good rider, even though he thinks he is. She’s worried the horse took off on him or bucked him off somewhere.”
“As you know, that can happen with horses,” Joe said.
“She’s getting really worked up. He’s supposed to have his phone with him, but he hasn’t called, and when she tries him, he doesn’t pick up. I can tell from her voice she’s starting to panic.”
Joe said, “Maybe he got clear of her and just kept riding to freedom. I could understand that.”
“I don’t find that very funny.”
The small house was on two levels, with three bedrooms and a detached garage and a loafing shed barn in the back. Joe sighed with relief when they pulled up in front of it, but if he thought he was done with drama for the day, he was mistaken. The House of Feelings, as Joe called it, had been percolating at a rolling boil ever since. First, April moved into Sheridan’s old bedroom—she’d been sharing a room with Lucy the same way rival armies “shared” a battlefield. Lucy, giddy with pent-up gratitude, helped move April out, and Marybeth showed up just in time to spot the corner of a bag of marijuana in April’s near-empty dresser drawer. Marybeth was stunned and angry at the revelation, April was defensive and even more angry she’d been found out, and Lucy managed to slip away and vanish somewhere in the small house to avoid the fight.
Excerpted from "Cold Wind"
Copyright © 2012 C. J. Box.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love the way Box writes. You can just picture yourself in the wilderness he works in. This book was very clever and a real page turner! Looking forward to the next book!
How might the push for wind energy provide a motive for murder? I really like the complexity of the plots and characters in this series. Read the books in order for the best understanding.
This another great c.j box novel. It is another story about the country I love we lived in Wyoming for 55 yrs.so we can relate to the places and the people of his stories. Our whole family has read the whole series of joe pickett and are waitng for more, hurry C.J. Great reading for the younger generation. His books are a true meaning of GODS country and if the reader wants to know what this country is about read this series. They are great and keep them coming. Thanks again for keeping me up all night reading about a place we love.
Another fantastic read from C.J. Box and I can't wait for #12. I can only hope Joe ages slowly. Although each is a great read on it's own, I think it's better to start at the beginning and read them all. Make's it easier to understand the character development and references to earlier events.
I hate going through the reviews to get an insight on a book only to find people like "harstan" has pretty much given away all the best parts. A review is what a person thought about the book, not that person telling everyone what the book is about in such long, long detail. It kinda ruins it for those of us that still haven't read it yet. A 2cents review is okay but a 75cent review is a bit much!
I read C. J. Box when he put out his first Joe Pickett novel in 2001. I thought it was a great debut and picked up the next few as they came out. Well, then I kind of missed a few. I just finished the brand new book ( #11) in this series - Cold Wind - and I'm kicking myself. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this character. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. But Joe does a lot more than check hunting licenses and monitor wildlife. Joe is out patrolling the high ridges - home to the newest kind of farming in wind swept Wyoming - wind farms. He notices that one turbine seems to be turning slower than than the others - the dead body tied to it could be the reason. The body turns out to be Earl, the fifth husband of Joe's mother-in-law Missy. Missy and Joe have never gotten along, but when Missy is charged with murder, both she and Joe's wife Marybeth ask him to look into things on his own. It looks like the local sheriff has already tried and convicted Missy. Box has taken a very current and very hot topic and woven a great mystery around the whole issue of wind farms. (There's lots of debate in my part of the world about them right now) Joe Pickett is a wonderfully likable character who tries to do the right thing by everyone, every time. Think white hat. The supporting characters are just as well drawn - the sheriff and his cronies are eminently unlikeable. As is Joe's cold, calculating mother-in-law. Joe's personal life has evolved throughout the novels as well - I wonder how much of the trials of raising three daughters mirrors Box's own life with three daughters. Joe and Marybeth's relationship seems very real as well. The secondary storyline involving Joe's friend Nate Romanowski totally grabbed me. Nate is a master falconer and fugitive. He has gone off the grid and underground in the hills of Wyoming. There are those that want him dead. More Nate please! (Fans of Joe Pike and Jack Reacher would like this character) Box writes what he knows. His descriptions of the land, the politics, social issues and the people of Wyoming all ring true. The plotting is tight, the story flows seamlessly and the ending was great.
Joe Pickett is happy being home in Saddlestring, Wyoming with his beloved wife Marybeth and their daughter instead of being the Wyoming governor's point man. The only person who resides in the county that he dislikes is his mother-in-law Missy, who just married her sixth husband multimillionaire Earl Alden. However he is missing and she demands her game warden son-in-law find him. Joe arrives at the ranch and quickly finds a body in a wind turbine. He climbs the ladder and identifies the corpse as his latest father-in-law. Sheriff McLachlan orders him down as he knew this was a crime scene before her got there due to an informant's tip. He arrests Missy, but Joe believes she is being framed as the informant is her ex husband Bud Longbrake who lost his ranch to her when she divorced him. Marybeth begs Joe to investigate, which he reluctantly does. He quickly learns everyone within Earl's scope wanted him dead. That is enough for Missy to be not guilty in court, but Marybeth wants her mom proven innocent. This complex mystery with its strong casting is what fans expect in the Pickett investigative series as C.J. Box provides another terrific tale. The story line is personal because Joe and Missy detest one another, but both love Marybeth. Readers will enjoy Cold Wind as the hero works a case trying to prove his number one enemy is innocent. Harriet Klausner
The 11th book in the Joe Pickett series. Joe is a game warden in Wyoming. One morning he comes across a body hanging from a wind turbine. The deceased is Earl Alden, fourth husband of Joe¿s mother-in-law. Earl was known as a shifty, conniving businessman who owned the largest ranch in Wyoming and was due to make a bundle of money by leasing out his land to a wind turbine company. There are a lot of people who had it out for Earl. He finagled a parcel of land from a neighbor by having it declared an imminent domain. Bud, husband #3 to Missy Alden, lost his ranch in his divorce from Missy. Bud¿s son, although estranged from Bud, isn¿t too fond of Missy for what she did to his father. As though things aren¿t bad enough, it appears Missy has been framed for the murder. Joe isn¿t too fond of his mother-in-law but his wife, Mary Beth, asks for his help in clearing her mother¿s name. Meanwhile, Nate, Joe¿s falconer friend, has a group from his past looking for him. Joe is extremely likeable with the typical family woes and the politics of his job. The author manages to balance all of the storylines in a page-turning follow-up to an enjoyable series.
I received this book through Early Reviewers. I've read C. J. Box for years and I have to say this is his best to date! Started off great and kept me up reading through the night. Joe Pickett is our law abiding Game Warden who is put between a rock and a hard place to track down the facts of the brutal killing of his father in law Earl Alden even if it proves his mother in law Missy guilty. Missy Alden is not a nice person, liked by few and hated by most. Did she do this despicable deed? Can the elite Wyoming Lawyer Marcus Hand get her off? Has she really been set up?While Joe's friend Nate is busy with troubles of his own trying to track down the killers of his girl friend Joe works hard despite his dislike of Missy and gets to the truth.Fast start, fast paced and great finish leading you to wish you didn't have to wait for the next in this series.Great job Mr. Box.
This is the very first Joe Pickett book I've read. wow what a way to start! this book was realy good! I love the characters to. it held me from the very first page! I liked it so much that now I'm going to go out and buy the first Pickett book and go from there till I'm caught up. I want to get to know the main characters even better. I really enjoyed this book a bunch!!!
The latest Joe Picket series ended worse than a daily soap opera! ;-) Hardley can wait for the next one, excellent as always.
I recieved this book from the Early Reviewers program. I have read some, but not all, of the other Joe Pickett books. The mystery in this book was really good- who killed the rancher and why was his body hanging from a wind turbine. I could have done without the secondary story centering on Joe's friend Nate. When I want to read about missile launchers, fake passports and secret government agencies, I'll choose a thriller, In this book, I could have done without that storyline and just enjoyed the main mystery.
I have just found C.J. Box and like his writing very much. In Cold Wind his much married mother-in-law is charged with the murder of her husband. A rich landowner, Earl is found tied to one of his wind farm turbines. How he got there, why and who is to blame takes the reader on a merry chase through politics of wind, family makeup, and small town gossip. A great read with a satisfying ending. I plan to read the earlier books.
I must start with a disclaimer; I like C.J. Box, the author of Cold Wind. I have all his books. Cold Wind is the eleventh in his Joe Pickett series. Joe is an unconventional game warden living in Saddlestring, Wyoming. I happened to visit the area where his second book, Savage Run, was set just before I bought the book. I was struck by how well he captured the spirit of the area in his story. He has just gotten better with time.The usual cast of characters including his wife, three daughters, mother-in-law, and the mysterious Nate Romanowski are all present in the most recent story involving the murder of his father-in-law, the most recent husband collected by his wife¿s mother. Box has created a cast of characters that you care about whether you love or hate them, and he challenges your emotions in his current effort. Joe¿s wife has always worn a white hat in Box¿s stories, or at least she has had to fight hard to resist temptation. Joe is clearly the hero, but his ethics have been tested more than once. Nate is on Joe¿s side, but he has no qualms when it comes to taking action. The mother-in-law, Missy, is of questionable character and Joe dislikes her.Missy is accused of murdering her current husband. Joe found his body hung by a chain on the spinning blade of a wind turbine. It took all his courage to climb the tower to reach the body. How could a small, old woman manage to hoist the body to that height let alone chain it to the spinning blade? We won¿t mention that the sheriff, Joe¿s archenemy, had ordered her arrest before the body was even discovered based on a tip from her ex-husband, all before the murder had even occurred. No one else was suspected or investigated for the crime. It was all just too pat. Joe is torn when his wife asks him to discover the truth. He really dislikes Missy and would be happy to see her behind bars. But Joe cannot let the truth go untold.Cold Wind is a solid addition to the Pickett series. While it brings closure to the current mystery, it opens the door to the next novel that is sure to challenge Pickett¿s ability to survive as well as challenge everything that defines his being as an honest and honorable man.
I read C. J. Box when he put out his first Joe Pickett novel in 2001. I thought it was a great debut and picked up the next few as they came out. Well, then I kind of missed a few. I just finished the brand new book ( #11) in this series - Cold Wind - and I'm kicking myself. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this character. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. But Joe does a lot more than check hunting licenses and monitor wildlife.Joe is out patrolling the high ridges - home to the newest kind of farming in wind swept Wyoming - wind farms. He notices that one turbine seems to be turning slower than than the others - the dead body tied to it could be the reason. The body turns out to be Earl, the fifth husband of Joe's mother-in-law Missy. Missy and Joe have never gotten along, but when Missy is charged with murder, both she and Joe's wife Marybeth ask him to look into things on his own. It looks like the local sheriff has already tried and convicted Missy.Box has taken a very current and very hot topic and woven a great mystery around the whole issue of wind farms. (There's lots of debate in my part of the world about them right now) Joe Pickett is a wonderfully likable character who tries to do the right thing by everyone, every time. Think white hat. The supporting characters are just as well drawn - the sheriff and his cronies are eminently unlikeable. As is Joe's cold, calculating mother-in-law. Joe's personal life has evolved throughout the novels as well - I wonder how much of the trials of raising three daughters mirrors Box's own life with three daughters. Joe and Marybeth's relationship seems very real as well. The secondary storyline involving Joe's friend Nate Romanowski totally grabbed me. Nate is a master falconer and fugitive. He has gone off the grid and underground in the hills of Wyoming. There are those that want him dead. More Nate please! (Fans of Joe Pike and Jack Reacher would like this character)Box writes what he knows. His descriptions of the land, the politics, social issues and the people of Wyoming all ring true. The plotting is tight, the story flows seamlessly and the ending was great.
The "Box Books" keep getting better and better. In this outing, Joe's mother, Missy, is charged with the murder of her current husband, Earl Alden. Unfortunately, Joe found him tied to the blade of a windmill in the new wind farm that Earl had installed on part of his ranch. Earl had also been shot in the chest before he took his ride on the windmill. The side plot in the book is the shooting death of Nate Romanowski's woman, Alicia Whitefeather in an attack that was meant to finish off Nate. This one will keep the reader twisting and turning until the final page, and that last page left me reaching for the next book. Hurry, C.J.!
This was my first Joe Pickett book. I enjoyed reading it, but think I need to go back and start at the beginning of the series. I was much more interested in the parts of the book involving Nate, and Joe's personal life, than I was in the business about the politics regarding the windmills. Missy was a very unpleasant character, but I would like to learn more about Joe's family and background.
This latest in the Joe Pickett series is probably one of the best. I really didn't love the last one; the "bad" guys were too strange. Cold Wind has the right blend of mystery, local Wyoming atmosphere and most importantly, the relationship with Joe and his family.
Game Warden Joe Pickett finds the body of his dead father-in-law hanging from a newly installed wind turbine and before he can even tell his wife about it, his mother-in-law is arrested for the crime. Is Missy Longbrake Alden responsible for the death of Earl Alden, or is somebody setting her up to take the fall? Joe¿s wife (Missy¿s daughter) Marybeth convinces Joe to help find out what really h appened before her mother is tried and convicted. He won¿t have much time, because the judge has a once-in-a-lifetime Dall sheep hunting permit and the hunting season is short. Will Joe be able to muddy the water enough to create reasonable doubt, or even better, prove Missy¿s innocence?This is my first CJ Box novel and I have mixed feelings. Here are my pros and cons. PROS: I love series books with such a robust sense of location. Box does a great job of illustrating the Wyoming landscape and the small town locals. Pickett, his family, his law enforcement and political brethren, and off-the-grid character Nate are well drawn ¿ everyone felt unique and distinct. The plot surrounding the politics of wind/alternative energy was interesting and well balanced. I¿ll never look at a wind turbine the same again. The murder plot was mostly believable and I didn¿t guess the outcome, though the twists and turns might be just a bit of a stretch. CONS: It¿s obvious that the characters in this series have richly interconnected lives, because past experiences are referenced often, which may have revealed plot resolutions from previous books. For example, I¿m pretty sure that in the last book, Joe and Nate found themselves in a situation that had a tragic ending with one of the making the right legal decision and the other making the right moral decision. In this book, the two are still licking their wounds and trying to create truce. And I¿m pretty sure the next book is going to be about The Five coming to find Nate. Having said all that, if you are a regular reader of the Joe Pickett series, these continuing threads probably provide a feeling of continuity and connection. For me, it was more of a distraction. VERDICT: Overall a good read, though I might need to read a couple more in the series to know if CJ Box is for me. If you are already a fan, I think you¿ll enjoy the ride.
I received Cold Wind as an Advance Reader Copy through LibraryThing¿s Early Reader program. It is my first book by C. J. Box and will not be my last. I liked the characters: Joe Pickett, the game warden who seems to get in to other issues up to his neck, his family, his friend Nate, the falconer/survivalist with a history. I love Wyoming, and the setting is integral to this story. I like the way Pickett is true to his principles, and also is concerned about other aspects of his life. The story is complicated without being too hard to follow, and has a nicely unexpected resolution. This is the eleventh in a series and it might have been a better read with more of the background, but I enjoyed it. Will probably try to pick up some of the earlier stories and will wait for the next.A good read.
This is the eleventh book in Box's series about Joe Pickett, the Wyoming game warden who solves murders. I want to make it clear up front that this is the first Joe Pickett story I've read¿this gives me a different perspective than long-time series fans and my comments should be read with that firmly in mind.The main impression that this book left in my mind when I was done was that the characters were quite flat. Joe is the stalwart, laconic cowboy stereotype; Nate is the troubled, defiant, Rambo stereotype; Missy is the greedy, calculating golddigger stereotype; etc. Since series seldom become this popular without having characters to whom readers can relate, my guess is that Box has gone the way of many series authors and come to rely upon fans' memories of the more rounded portrayals carrying over from previous volumes. This works well for long-time readers but is not conducive to jumping into the series in the middle.My second objection was the feel of the two story lines that ran parallel through the book. Joe's story is a solid member of the police procedural mystery novel type. Nate's story is very much an action thriller à la something out of one of Ludlum's novels. As the chapters alternated between the two tales, I found that my mind couldn't settle into which genre it was reading. I found this unpleasant.On the positive side, Wyoming and its politics is an unusual backdrop. I found myself interested in the divide over wind power that I didn't even know existed. Coming on the heels of so many other financial scandals and swindles, the manipulations practiced in this book were topical and appealing.All-in-all, this isn't a book that made any great impression upon me. With many series, reading a middle book immediately makes me want to find the first one and read my way up-to-date. Not so this one; it's a quintessential 2-star read ("probably won't remember it in a year"). Long-time fans may find this a perfectly adequate episode but it's not a good hook to catch the new reader.
"Cold Wind," the eleventh in the Joe Pickett series is likely to be a home run for fans, but an acquired taste to newbies to these stories from Wyoming. The discovery of a body swinging from the top of a new new wind turbine by Pickett is bizarre enough, but the game warden soon finds that the deceased is his most recent father-in-law and the prime suspect is none other than his much married mother-in-law. The story line consists of several twists that Pickett methodically unravels. These are good and keep the reader, new and old, interested and invested. The downer for me was the inclusion of a secondary plot, involving Pickett's best friend, a survivalist and potential revolutionary to protect westerners from The Government. This story is unnecessary and diverts the reader from a genuinely engrossing tale. This two plot story was mote like a TV crime drama with a useless and equally distracting minor tale.
This is the eleventh book in the Joe Pickett series. (The first novel featuring Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett was Open Season published in 2001.) Joe Pickett is a decent, quiet type (¿strong yet silent¿ it might say in the personals), who is happily married with three daughters, and who won¿t compromise when it comes to carrying out the law (in spite of the contention by other characters that the legal solution is not always the most just solution). Like other game warden characters I¿ve encountered in books, Pickett is happiest just being out in the natural habitat where he works, which in Pickett¿s case is the big sprawling open land of Wyoming, punctuated by creeks, rivers, and precipitous mountain ranges. Joe is in his mid-forties, slim, wears cowboy clothes, and has a perpetual squint. One envisions a Clint Eastwood kind of guy.When his mother-in-law is arrested for the murder of her latest (fifth) husband, the multi-millionaire developer Earl Alden, Joe¿s wife asks him to help exonerate her mother. Because the body was chained to a wind turbine, Joe suspects the murder might be a result of some of those who are against wind farming, and he and his wife Marybeth look into the politics and economics of using wind for energy.Meanwhile, Joe¿s friend Nate Romanowski is in big trouble, being pursued by relentless killers. Tension builds as the threat to Nate increases, and as Joe gets closer to finding the real killer of Earl Alden.Discussion: Why a game warden, instead of, e.g., a police detective? As Box explains:"Game wardens are unique because they can legitimately be involved in just about every major event or situation that involves the outdoors and the rough edges of the rural new west. They're trained and armed law enforcement officers, and nearly every human they encounter in the field is armed, which is unique. Often, they¿re too far from town to call backup in an emergency so they¿re forced to deal with situations with their experience, weapons, and wits. Their districts can encompass 5,000 square miles of rough country filled with wildlife, history, schemes, and secrets. By necessity, they¿re lone wolves."In short, a game warden is perfect for Wyoming. And this novel by Box has a very Wyoming-esque feel to it. I like game warden procedurals and I liked Joe Pickett a lot. On the negative side, the author clearly has an agenda and wants to expose how wind farms are not the panaceas they are touted as being; the ¿mystery¿ plot line gets second shrift and doesn¿t live up to the rather spectacular initial crime scene.As for whether the book works as a standalone, I would have appreciated two extra paragraphs in the book. Just two. One on what happened a year ago (or, one presumes, in the previous book), which had a big effect on everybodys¿ relationships to everybody else but wasn¿t exactly clear to me. The other would be a paragraph providing background on Nate Romanowski. Not having those clarifications was not fatal at all, but still served as a distraction for me.Evaluation: The Joe Pickett detective series is worth pursuing, especially for the atmospheric sense of Wyoming, and the appeal of the protagonist, Joe Pickett.
Joe Pickett is a game warden who has a mother in law that works her way through men for money. Her latest husband is found dead tied to one of his wind turbines. Missy, Joe's MIL is accused of the crime. Although Joe doesn't care for Missy, he starts investigating the Earl's death for his wife. There are a lot of people who would like to frame Missy, so Joe has plenty of suspects for the crime.
So 3 in a row and I'm all caught up with Joe Pickett... the ending will leave you waiting for the next book! Really enjoyed this book and it kept a good pace. It finished up a few older story lines and opened up a few new ones. My husband also enjoys this series but it;s hard to find them on audio, he listens while driving to work each day.