by Bruce TierneyMay, 2003
Mystery of the month
Our Tip of the Ice Pick Award for May goes to C.J. Box for Winterkill, his third installment in the series featuring Game Warden Joe Pickett. In the snowbound Wyoming mountains, four days before Christmas, Pickett is on patrol. Shots ring out. The limit for hunters is one elk per season, and now one shooter with a high-powered rifle has killed or mortally wounded seven animals in the space of seconds. When Pickett apprehends the man, he is shocked to discover that the perpetrator is the District Supervisor of the National Forest. Dazed and apparently drunk or confused, the man bolts into the forest. When Pickett finally catches up with him, the man is dead murdered and pinned to a tree with a cluster of high-impact arrows, like those from a crossbow. Lest there be any doubt about the pacing of a C.J. Box novel, let it be said that the above-mentioned scene takes place within the first chapter, and the velocity doesn't slow appreciably until the last page. Folks familiar with the massacres at Waco and Ruby Ridge will find eerie parallels in Winterkill , and it is extremely difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys without a cheat sheet. And through it all, Joe Pickett must tread the fine line between administering the law and dispensing justice in this disquieting tale of the new Old West.