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The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C. J. Box, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, US $27.00, Pp 400, March 2018, ISBN 978-0399176623

New Wyoming Governor Colter Allen is in a fix when Kate Shelford-Longden, a prominent British executive disappears during her visit to a high-end guest ranch. She was supposedly on her way to the Denver airport after spending a week at the ranch outside of Saratoga. Governor Colter Allen is unsure of what to do as the British embassy increases the pressure. Governor Colter Allen decides to seek help from Joe Pickett for this sensitive job. Disappearing of women during visits to ranches happens as these ranches are inhabited by handsome young cowboys, and ranch romances are common. It is surely not a romance disappearance as Kate Shelford-Longden has not returned even after months after she vanished.

Joe has an inside knowledge of what happens at the Silver Creek Ranch since his oldest daughter Sheridan works there as a horse wrangler. He is also joined by a maverick falconer friend Nate Romanowski. Joe is suspicious of Allen’s motives for asking him to investigate this affair but he is also curious about what happened to fellow Game Warden Steve Pollock. He decides to go to Saratoga. There is little in the case file that can be helpful for him and DCI Agent Michael Williams is not ready to discuss the investigation. Joe has to continue his own investigations as the governor ordered search for Kate.

The staff at the Silver Creek Ranch undergoes rigorous vetting before they are hired. However, the same strict standards are not applied to the contractors who occasionally work there. The father/son owners of the local fish farm are also on the list of suspects. Farriers Brad and Ben Youngberg become persons of interest because of their peculiar habits. Joe learns that there are unusual activities at the local mill owned by Jeb Pryor. The overnight employee Wylie Frye is getting paid extra money on the side by unknown and suspicious people.

Nate Romanowski has asked Joe to intervene with the feds on behalf of falconers who can no longer hunt with eagles even though their permits are in order. It is a mystery as to who is blocking the falconers and why. As the investigations make progress in these two cases, Joe feels that someone wants him to quit. But he is not sure if it is because of the missing woman or because of his handling the falconers’ case. Are the two cases somehow connected? The answers are not likely pleasant. Joe brings in Nate to help him in questioning some of the suspects.

Nate is shocked to learn that a vast number of wind turbines under construction at a wind energy farm – known as the Buckbrush Wind Energy Project. Nate has a conspiracy theory. The falconers’ case and the Buckbrush Wind Energy Project are tied. But how is the Buckbrush Wind Energy Project linked with the disappearances of game warden Steve Pollock, Kate Shelford-Longden and the odd goings-on at Jeb’s mill?

The Disappeared revolves around environmental issues. C. J. Box shows that many crimes are linked to environmental issues. As in his earlier sixteen novels in the series, the Disappeared also explores intriguing environmental issues that are socially relevant in today’s world. The Disappeared is a stay-up-all-night mystery novel about environmental issues by a gifted storyteller.

C. J. Box is the author of seventeen Joe Pickett novels, five standalone novels, and the story collection Shots Fired. He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry Awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38, and has been a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. A Wyoming native, Box has also worked on a ranch and as a small-town newspaper reporter and editor. He lives outside Cheyenne with his family. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

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