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Vicious Circle
Cover of Vicious Circle
Vicious Circle
by C. J. Box
The past comes back to haunt game warden Joe Pickett and his family with devastating effect in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author.

The plane circled in the dark. Joe Pickett could just make out down below a figure in the snow and timber, and then three other figures closing in. There was nothing he could do about it. And Joe knew that he might be their next target.
The Cates family had always been a bad lot. Game warden Joe Pickett had been able to strike a fierce blow against them when the life of his daughter April had been endangered, but he'd always wondered if there'd be a day of reckoning. He's not wondering any longer. Joe knows they're coming after him and his family now. He has his friend Nate by his side, but will that be enough this time? All he can do is prepare . . . and wait for them to make the first move.
The past comes back to haunt game warden Joe Pickett and his family with devastating effect in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author.

The plane circled in the dark. Joe Pickett could just make out down below a figure in the snow and timber, and then three other figures closing in. There was nothing he could do about it. And Joe knew that he might be their next target.
The Cates family had always been a bad lot. Game warden Joe Pickett had been able to strike a fierce blow against them when the life of his daughter April had been endangered, but he'd always wondered if there'd be a day of reckoning. He's not wondering any longer. Joe knows they're coming after him and his family now. He has his friend Nate by his side, but will that be enough this time? All he can do is prepare . . . and wait for them to make the first move.
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  • From the book Chapter One


    Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett flicked his eyes between the screen of the iPad mounted in front of him and the side window, as the vast dark pine forest spooled out beneath the Cessna Turbo 206 below. He tried to keep his eyes wide open so he wouldn't miss anything but he fought against his instinctive reaction to close them tightly in anticipation of the inevitable engine failure that would result in his quick and fiery death in the Bighorn Mountains.

    For the first time in his life, he understood the desire for the fidgety solace of a set of prayer beads, and he wished he had some.

    It was Halloween night, and the pilot, John Wilson "Bill" Slaughter, a stout and compact man in his early sixties with an aluminum-colored crew-cut, eased down the nose of the small plane. Black timber filled the windscreen. Joe tried to breathe.

    "Twelve hundred feet," Slaughter said through the headset to both his co-pilot Gail Herdt and Joe who was looped in.

    "Roger," she said.

    Both Slaughter and Herdt were retired from the military as well as members of the Wyoming Civil Air Patrol. Herdt was an art teacher at Pinedale Middle School, and Slaughter had a small Angus cattle operation near Torrington.

    "Why twelve hundred feet?" Joe asked, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.

    "We normally don't drop below two thousand feet at night," Herdt said calmly. "It's not considered very safe."

    "So don't tell anyone," Slaughter said.

    Joe asked, "Then why are we doing it?"

    She looked over her shoulder at him alone in the backseat. "To see better," she said, matter-of-fact.

    Joe nodded. His mouth was dry and he felt like he could throw up at any second. He gripped an overhead strap so hard with his right hand he'd lost all feeling in his fingers. His stomach surged with every turn, drop, and climb.

    "Is he okay?" Slaughter asked Herdt.

    "Are you okay?" she asked him directly.

    "Dandy," he lied.

    The crowns of lodgepole pines shot by below them so quickly it was mesmerizing. The crowns of the trees rose from the inky forest and were illuminated light blue by the slice of moon and the hard white stars. The visual maelstrom of passing treetops reminded Joe of snow blowing through his headlights in a blizzard. The trees seemed to be so close he could reach out and touch them.

    "We hardly ever crash," Bill Slaughter said.

    Herdt laughed and told him to stop it.

    Joe stared at the back of Slaughter's round head and tried to burn two holes in it with his eyes. Although he appreciated the time and effort that went into being members of the Civil Air Patrol, he didn't appreciate their black humor at the moment.



    "So what's this guy likely to do if he finds himself lost?" Slaughter asked Joe through the headset.

    "What do you mean?"

    "Is he the kind of guy who panics?"

    Joe thought about it. "No. He's too dumb to panic. And he does know these mountains pretty well. He used to guide hunters up here."

    Slaughter said, "The reason I asked is that we've learned over the last few years that if the lost person is young, they start climbing to try to find a cell signal on the top of a mountain. If they're older, they tend to walk down along a creek or stream."

    "That makes sense," Joe said. "My guy would walk down. My guess is he'd follow a spring creek until it joined one of the forks of the Powder River. Then he'd find a ranch or...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 16, 2017
    At the start of Edgar-winner Box’s crackling 17th Joe Pickett novel (after 2016’s Off the Grid), the Wyoming game warden is aboard a small plane in search of hunter Dave Farkus, “currently an unemployed layabout collecting dubious disability checks,” who has gone on the run in the frozen high country. With the aid of an infrared spotting device, Joe locates Dave—right before the fugitive is fatally shot. Joe quickly settles on a suspect: erstwhile rodeo star Dallas Cates, just released from the prison where Joe helped send him 18 months earlier. Dallas’s motive? Scorched-earth revenge on Joe. To that end, the diabolically clever Dallas has recruited a gang of psychopathic miscreants for the ages. A sequence in which a female meth head attempts to kill Joe’s wife and daughters with an ax ranks as the scariest in any Pickett novel to date; a close second goes to a confrontation between Joe and Dallas’s imprisoned, quadriplegic mother. In short, this outing is the most suspenseful yet in this world-class series, setting a new standard for Box. Author tour. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2017
    In his 17th adventure, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett (Off the Grid, 2016, etc.) goes another 15 rounds with surviving members of the toxic Cates family.Joe has run into ex-everything Dave Farkus too many times in too many unsavory ways to expect any favors from him. So he's doubly surprised when Farkus phones him from Stockman's Bar to say he's overheard a conversation about Joe and his family before he's abruptly cut off. Joe's concern turns to alarm when Farkus disappears from a hunting trip, and his blood is curdled by the discoveries of dead Farkus and disconcertingly alive Dallas Cates, the disgraced rodeo star who ran off with Joe's daughter April, dumped her out of his truck, and ended up in the prison he's just been released from, hungry for vengeance for the deaths of his father and two brothers. County attorney Dulcie Schalk has no trouble linking Dallas to the dead man, but high-priced defense attorney Marcus Hand, now married to Joe's scheming, useless mother-in-law, Miss Vankueren, has even less trouble getting the charges dropped, leaving Dallas and his two hirelings free to roam the trails of Ten Sleep County, virtually immune from prosecution, as they ponder new ways to menace the Picketts. Can Joe gather enough evidence to neutralize Dallas before the charismatic sociopath, whose paralyzed mother, Brenda, is the queen bee of the Wyoming Department of Corrections' Women's Center, neutralizes Joe and his whole family? Bracingly familiar pleasures expertly packaged. The two families' fraught history, tangled enough to fuel a whole season of high-country soap opera, keeps this installment from being the best place to take the initial plunge into the franchise, but first-timers will be intrigued and fans amply rewarded.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2016
    In his 17th outing, game warden Joe Pickett faces down the Cates family, local nasties who once threatened his daughter. Box's latest, Off the Grid, was a No. 1 New York Times best seller, and he's won Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry awards, so what are you waiting for?

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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