Provocative characters abound in this intense mystery, not least among them brothers Vernon and Lafayette Rice, one a local sheriff and the other a preacher leading a white nationalist congregation, and when Nick continues his previous work investigating illegal sales of rare butterflies, the Rice brothers start to suspect he’s not the hunter he’s pretending to be. The danger quickly intensifies when Nick’s pet bobcat, Ray Charles, goes missing, and Nick’s undercover ease as a big game hunter starts to conflict with his professional hunches.
Cox’s experience volunteering with wildlife rescue groups lends authenticity to the canned hunt concept, and he aptly highlights the unique dangers faced by animal protection agencies - dangers that set them apart from other law enforcement personnel, particularly when confronting people engaged in illegal hunting behaviors. Readers will appreciate Cox’s expertly crafted characters, and Nick’s humanity while protecting animals and simultaneously investigating those who seek to harm them is skillfully rendered. Though most of the loose ends are satisfyingly tied up by the story’s conclusion, Cox hints at additional secrets that will keep readers eagerly anticipating the next in the series.
Takeaway: An intensely satisfying mix of danger and rich characterizations.
Great for fans of: A Hunt for Justice by Lucinda Delaney Schroeder and Warden Force: Night Rider and Other True Game Warden Adventures: Episodes 1-13 by Terry Hodges
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A