Blood Trail is the eighth book in C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series. In this adventure, someone is hunting elk hunters in Wyoming. The first couple killings appear to be hunting accidents, but when a man is hung and gutted like prey, the police, the state game warden, even the governor take an active role in finding this human hunter. And their first step in solving the heinous crimes is to call in Joe Pickett.
The stakes are raised in the investigation when an anti-hunting advocate, Klamath Moore, travels to Wyoming to make sure EVERYONE knows what is going on. Because of his stance on hunting, Klamath Moore becomes a prime suspect in the case. He may not be the shooter, but is he pulling the strings to make all of this happen and further his cause?
This was my first foray into C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series (and thus my first "new to me" author for 2009). I wasn't aware that Blood Trail was the most recently published book, it was simply the one I could borrow on audio book from my library. The audio book was read by David Chandler. I enjoyed his rich voice, but was a little less than impressed with his approach to the dialects of the characters.
The plot of Blood Trail may sit differently with different people depending on their own personal viewpoints of hunting. However, I found Box's approach to the subject quite impressive.
The plot contained several elements that I thought could have been cut. I didn't see the purpose in the small segment of Joe's daughter writing letters to "The Falconer." I continued to wait for it to play a role in the outcome of the plot, but it never did. And a female character, Stella, was evidently in a past storyline. She reappears in this novel, but doesn't seem to have any kind of significant role in this novel.
There are quite a few characters that sound as though they were prominent in previous books, so this is probably a series that is best read in order for the full effect. It did not, however, keep me from enjoying the book.
I like the character of Joe Pickett probably due largely to the fact that I admire his philosophy on many issues that were present in this novel: child rearing, city-living, hunting, etc. I also appreciated that he is an intelligent man, but not an Einstein. He can use his experience, his instincts, his knowledge but that doesn't mean he's going to have all the answers one hundred percent of the time. Joe is capable of compassion and empathy. He doesn't come across as a hardened, heartless character.
Usually when I listen to an audio book, exact quotes from the book don't stick with me. However, this book was an exception. Much like what it is describing, "musical peanut butter" will stay with me for a long time. Box uses this phrase to describe a song that sticks in your head and you can't seem to shake. This book was the first time I ever heard that concept named as such, and I laughed out loud in my car at how apropos the term was.
Overall, Blood Trail was an enjoyable reading experience. I'll definitely be looking into the other books in the Joe Pickett series.