Putnam, Jul 2001, 23.95, 304 pp.
While still a Wyoming state game warden trainee, Joe Pickett ticketed a man fishing without a license. The man turned out to be the state governor. One week after being assigned to Twelve Sleep County, Joe fines outfitter Ote Keeley for shooting a buck out of season. However, Ote takes Joe's gun away and points it at the game warden's head before calmly accepting his ticket. Though he continues working hard, Joe has never fully recovered from the Keeley incident.
A few months later, Keeley reenters Joe's life when his daughter finds the outfitter dead at the woodpile near the Pickett home. Next to the corpse is a cooler containing pellets of excrement. Joe and fellow warden Wacey Hedeman assist sheriff Bud Barnum with the investigation. However, soon Joe is in trouble with his superiors, his pregnant wife for jeopardizing his job, and with a killer trying to add a nosy game warden to the list.
OPEN SEASON is an entertaining police procedural tale that works because the author steps out of the box by insuring his star is not superman. Instead he is just an average Joe struggling with learning his new job, obtaining a decent standard of living for his family, and still trying to do the right thing. The story line is filled with twists and turns so that the audience into thinking the wrong person is the villain. The endangered species issue is well designed within the plot with C.J. Box cleverly laying it out so that the reader can decide on this complex question. Fans will want more Wyoming mysteries starring a guy named Joe.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner