These books are a huge pleasure of mine - I won't say guilty pleasure, because I refuse to be guilty about anything I read. Nonetheless, they are like a bit of cotton candy, tasty but without much substance. This is the 18th in the series of books centered around Joe Pickett, erstwhile Wyoming Game Warden and man who has destroyed more state cars than anyone in fiction or reality.
Box has a formula for the Pickett stories - Joe is in the doghouse with his agency brass and is dispatched by the Governor to handle some problem that really has nothing to do with being a game warden, but which needs a man of discretion and integrity to deal with it. Shit goes badly wrong. Joe blows up a house or destroys a truck, or both, some bad guy or another ends up dead, and a conspiracy at the highest levels of business or government is uncovered, Joe is again persona non grata and he fears that his family will starve. His mother in law, a truly awful person, tries to get his wife to leave him.
Before the Trump administration, these huge conspiracies felt a whole lot more fictional. But, I digress.
Anyway, this one follows the formula. There's a new governor, as Governor Rulon has lost the election to a fancy pants ivy league rich guy Republican who looks the part of Governor, but has the grasping heart of any one of the Trumps, which is to say, he likes money and doesn't much care where it comes from. There's also a missing British woman who was vacationing at the very exclusive, very expensive, very five-star vacation ranch, a game warden who has just up and disappeared, and a puzzling situation with Nate Romanowski, master falconer. Joe is instructed to find out what happened to Kate, the missing woman, without making too many waves.
Joe makes waves. It ends predictably, which is to say badly.
I don't think that it would really be possible to pick this series up on book 18 and make a lot of sense out of the various characters and plot lines without the backstory of the preceding 17 installments. Nonetheless, it's a solid entry into the series, and an afternoon with Joe Pickett is always good fun.