cover image Stone Cold

Stone Cold

C.J. Box. Putnam, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-16076-9

Near the start of bestseller Box’s exhilarating 14th Joe Pickett novel (after 2013’s Breaking Point), the Wyoming game warden receives a summons to the governor’s office. Governor Rulon needs Joe to travel to Medicine Wheel County to investigate Wolfgang Templeton, a retired businessman who may be involved in a “high-end murder-for-hire business.” Joe’s assignment is to gather information on Templeton while assisting the area’s game warden, without letting any of the locals know his true purpose or letting “things get western.” Meanwhile, Joe’s ward, April, is being courted by Dallas Cates, rodeo champion and possible rapist, and his eldest daughter, Sheridan, is getting “a really bad vibe” from a transfer student in her dorm at the University of Wyoming. Unlike your standard-issue action hero, the canny Joe uses his wits, taking time to assess the literal and figurative lay of the land. Box does a good job of working in the backstories of characters and situations, so even new readers should have no problem following along. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. (Mar.)