Box's ninth novel to feature Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett begins with a bombshell: could Pickett's foster daughter, April, who apparently died six years earlier in Winterkill, still be alive?"Tell Sherry April called." A simple phone message that shakes Joe Pickett's oldest daughter Sheridan and the rest of the family to the core. To Joe, it doesn't seem even remotely possible that April could have survived the massacre described in Winterkill six years before. He was there, and he was unable to save her. But Sheridan starts to believe there's a chance that April is still alive, and her suspicions are confirmed when the person sending texts to her cellphone is able to recall family incidents only April could know.Joe, however, remains wary of the messages. But when the texts start to refer to "bad things," and when Marybeth discovers they come from locations throughout the West where vicious murders have taken place, alarm bells go off. Desperate to discover if April is still alive and to save her from possible danger, Joe, Sheridan, and Nate Romanowski take to the road to connect the texts with the crimes.Meanwhile, a dying Chicago mobster named Stenko and a much younger girl cross the country. He's on a mission to reconcile with his extreme environmentalist son before he dies. His son is less interested in reconciliation than in getting his father to repent for the environmental crimes he's committed during his lifetime. He wants his father to become not just carbon neutral, but to reduce his carbon footprint to below zero - as if he'd never even existed.As the path of Stenko and his companions starts to cross with Joe, Sheridan, and Nate, the question is raised: Is this young girl April or are the Picketts the victims of a cruel hoax?
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C. J. Box is the author of five Joe Pickett novels, and has won the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry awards. He has also been an Edgar Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. A Wyoming native, Box serves on the board of directors for Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.From Booklist:
The hardworking and best-selling Box has been on a two-book-per-year pace of late, alternating his popular Joe Pickett novels with stand-alone thrillers. After a rare misstep in Three Weeks to Say Goodbye (2009), Box returns with a Pickett adventure that marries the fast pace and ensemble approach of the stand-alones with the thematic concerns and reliable cast of the series. It starts when the Wyoming game warden’s teenage daughter, Sheridan, receives a text message with a staggering implication: that April, the foster daughter thought dead in Winterkill (2003), is still alive. If it really is April who’s texting, she’s in danger, and for Pickett, the only thing worse than losing her the first time would be losing her again. Pickett must negotiate FBI politics, recruit his fugitive friend Nate Romanowski, and take a crash course in cell-phone-tracking technology to find her. The environmental theme, always part of a Pickett novel, is global warming, and while Box gets at it in a surprising way (the title doesn’t mean what you think it means), the discussion isn’t as nuanced as we’ve come to expect. The book is, however, a successful blend of the two things Box does best and seems likely to bring fans of the terrific stand-alone Blue Heaven (2008) to this very fine series. --Keir Graff
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