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Author: C. J. Box; c.2018, G. P. Putnam’s Sons; $2; 400 pages 

Everybody knows.

Yeah, that’s what happens when you live in a small town or a bubble: everybody knows your business, there are no secrets, people talk, and you can’t hide. Your life is out in the open but, in the new book “The Disappeared” by C.J. Box, few truly know the truth.

Game Warden Joe Pickett didn’t like his new boss very much.

Governor Colter Allen was a “different animal.” He was rich, Ivy-League educated, used to working the system to get what he wanted, and he seemed more beholden to his donors than he was to his state. Joe didn’t trust him fully – but then again, he had a good amount of distrust for Allen’s predecessor, too.

Allen didn’t care. He’d flown into Saddlestring, Wyoming , not to make nice but to make demands: a British tourist had come to a dude ranch just months before, then on her way home, vanished. London authorities were pressuring Allen to light a fire under the case, and he told Joe to find the lovely Kate Shelford-Longden…. or else.

Wood smoke never bothered Wylie Frye all that much.

As the night watchman at a mill, burning sawdust in the conical oven each night was probably the best job in Twelve Sleep County: when it was thirty degrees below zero, the tin shack where Wylie spent his shift was toasty-warm.

The problem was that the work was easy – load the oven, turn it on - but the job didn’t pay well. Wylie didn’t know how he’d make ends meet, if it weren’t for the cash he was handed for looking the other way every few days while a couple guys borrowed the oven.

Sure, the smell of burning hair and flesh bothered him, but money won out.

Master Falconer and conspiracy-lover Nate Romanowski had come to Saddlestring to get a few questions answered but instead, he found his buddy, Joe Pickett, in a no-win situation: no help, no leads, and no time before Joe found himself out of a job.

There were so many puzzlers: why did the game warden in Saratoga leave so abruptly? And why did Governor Allen turn a possibly-criminal case over to a game warden?

You know what you’re going to say when you start “The Disappeared”?

Not much. You’ll be too busy reading because author C.J. Box has another all-weekend urgency for fans of his Joe Pickett novels and for readers who demand a solid PI and a completely plausible crime.

This page-turner leads you down one path before tossing you onto another; it’s a book filled with characters you might meet in real life if you’re particularly (un)lucky. And just when you think the breathless action is over, Box bows out with a cliffhanger that leaves you with fingers clutching your book, “Arrrgh!” on your lips.

“The Disappeared” alludes to other books in the Joe Pickett series, and it may have you scrambling to catch up, if you haven’t already. And that’s okay because we all love a good book or two, as everybody knows.


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