Savage Run (Joe Pickett Series #2)

Savage Run (Joe Pickett Series #2)

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An Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry Award winner, C. J. Box delivers the second pulse-pounding installment in his critically acclaimed series. While investigating a string of bizarre murders, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett is forced to flee across treacherous terrain with a deadly tracker on his trail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501260445
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 08/18/2015
Series: Joe Pickett Series , #2
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 164,676
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

C. J. Box is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Joe Pickett series, five stand-alone novels, and the story collection Shots Fired. He has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and two Barry awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 and a French Elle magazine literary award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He and his wife Laurie split their time between their home and ranch in Wyoming.

Read an Excerpt

Part One

No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.

Earth First!


Targhee National Forest, Idaho

June 10

on the third day of their honeymoon, infamous environmental activist Stewie Woods and his new bride, Annabel Bellotti, were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up. Until then, their marriage had been happy.

They met by chance. Stewie Woods had been busy pouring bag after bag of sugar and sand into the gasoline tanks of a fleet of pickups in a newly graded parking lot that belonged to a natural gas exploration crew. The crew had left for the afternoon for the bars and hotel rooms of nearby Henry's Fork. One of the crew had returned unexpectedly and caught Stewie as he was ripping the top off a bag of sugar with his teeth. The crew member pulled a 9mm semiautomatic from beneath the dashboard of his truck and fired several wild shots in Stewie's direction. Stewie dropped the bag and ran away, crashing through the timber like a bull elk.

Stewie had outrun and outjuked the man with the pistol when he literally tripped over Annabel, who was unaware of his approach because she was listening to Melissa Etheridge on her Walkman as she sunbathed nude on the grass in an orange pool of late afternoon sun. She looked good, he thought, strawberry blonde hair with a two-day Rocky Mountain fire-engine tan (two hours in the sun at 8,000 feet created a sunburn like a whole day at the beach), small ripe breasts, and a trimmed vector of pubic hair.

He had gathered her up and pulled her along through the timber, where they hid together in a dry spring wash until the man with the pistol gave up and went home. She had giggled while he held her-This was real adventure, she said-and he had used the opportunity to run his hands tentatively over her naked shoulders and hips and had found out, happily, that she did not object. They made their way back to where she had been sunbathing and, while she dressed, they introduced themselves.

She told him she liked the idea of meeting a famous environmental outlaw in the woods while she was naked, and he appreciated that. She said she had seen his picture before, maybe in Outside magazine, and admired his looks-tall and rawboned, with round rimless glasses, a short-cropped full beard, wearing his famous red bandana on his head.

Her story was that she had been camping alone in a dome tent, taking a few days off from a freewheeling cross-continent trip that had begun with her divorce from an anal-retentive investment banker named Nathan in her hometown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She was bound, eventually, for Seattle.

"I'm falling in love with your mind," he lied.

"Already?" she asked.

He encouraged her to travel with him, and they took her vehicle since the lone crew member had disabled Stewie's Subaru with three bullets into the engine block. Stewie was astonished by his good fortune. Every time he looked over at her and she smiled back, he was poleaxed with exuberance.

Keeping to dirt roads, they crossed into Montana. The next afternoon, in the backseat of her SUV during a thunderstorm that rocked the car and blew shroudlike sheets of rain through the mountain passes, he asked her to marry him. Given the circumstances and the supercharged atmosphere, she accepted. When the rain stopped, they drove to Ennis, Montana, and asked around about who could marry them, fast. Stewie did not want to take the chance of letting her get away. She kept saying she couldn't believe she was doing this. He couldn't believe she was doing this either, and he loved her even more for it.

At the Sportsman Inn in Ennis, Montana, which was bustling with fly fishermen bound for the trout-rich waters of the Madison River, the desk clerk gave them a name and they looked up Judge Ace Cooper (Ret.) in the telephone book.

judge cooper was a tired and rotund man who wore a stained white cowboy shirt and elk horn bolo tie with his collar open. He performed the wedding ceremony in a room adjacent to his living room that was bare except for a single filing cabinet, a desk and three chairs, and two framed photographs-one of the judge and President George H. W. Bush, who had once been up there fishing, and the other of the judge on a horse before the Cooper family lost their ranch in the 1980s.

The ceremony had taken eleven minutes, which was just about average for Judge Cooper, although he had once performed it in eight minutes for two American Indians.

"Do you, Allan Stewart Woods, take thee Annabeth to be your lawful wedded wife?" Judge Cooper asked, reading from the marriage application form.

"Annabel," Annabel corrected in her biting Rhode Island accent.

"I do," Stewie said. He was beside himself with pure joy.

Stewie twisted the ring off his finger and placed it on hers. It was unique; handmade gold mounted with sterling silver monkey wrenches. It was also three sizes too large. The Judge studied the ring.

"Monkey wrenches?" the Judge asked.

"It's symbolic," Stewie had said.

"I'm aware of the symbolism," the Judge said darkly, before finishing the passage.

Annabel and Stewie beamed at each other. Annabel said that this was, like, the wildest vacation ever. They were Mr. and Mrs. Outlaw Couple. He was now her famous outlaw, as yet untamed. She said her father would be scandalized, and her mother would have to wear dark glasses at Newport. Only her Aunt Tildie, the one with the wild streak who had corresponded with, but never met, a Texas serial killer until he died from lethal injection, would understand.

Stewie had to borrow a hundred dollars from her to pay the judge, and she signed over a traveler's check.

After the couple left in the SUV with Rhode Island plates, Judge Ace Cooper went to his lone filing cabinet and found the file with the information he needed. He pulled a single piece of paper out and read it as he dialed the telephone. While he waited for the right man to come to the telephone, he stared at the framed photo of himself on his former ranch. The ranch, north of Yellowstone Park, had been subdivided by a Bozeman real estate company into over thirty fifty-acre "ranchettes." Famous Hollywood celebrities, including the one whose early career photos he had recently seen in Penthouse, now lived there. Movies had been filmed there. There was even a crackhouse, but it was rumored that the owner wintered in L.A. The only cattle that existed were purely for visual effect, like landscaping that moved and crapped and looked good when the sun threatened to drop below the mountains.

The man he was waiting for came to the telephone.

"Stewie Woods was here," he said. "The man himself. I recognized him right off, and his ID proved it." There was a pause as the man on the other end of the telephone asked Cooper something. "Yeah, I heard him say that just before they left. They're headed for the Bighorns in Wyoming. Somewhere near Saddlestring."

annabel told stewie that their honeymoon was quite unlike what she had imagined a honeymoon would be, and she contrasted it with her first one with Nathan. Nathan had been about sailing boats, champagne, and Barbados. Stewie was about spiking trees in stifling heat in a national forest in Wyoming. He even asked her to carry his pack.

Neither of them noticed the late-model black Ford pickup that trailed them up the mountain road and continued on when Stewie pulled over to park.

Deep into the forest, Annabel watched as Stewie removed his shirt and tied the sleeves around his waist. A heavy bag of nails hung from his tool belt and tinkled as he strode through the undergrowth. There was a sheen of sweat on his bare chest as he straddled a three-foot-thick Douglas fir and drove in spikes. He was obviously well practiced, and he got into a rhythm where he could bury the six-inch spikes into the soft wood with three blows from his sledgehammer, one tap to set the spike and two heavy blows to bury it beyond the nail head in the bark.

Stewie moved from tree to tree, but didn't spike all of them. He approached each tree using the same method: The first of the spikes went in at eye level. A quarter-turn around the trunk, he pounded in another a foot lower than the first. He continued pounding in spikes, spiraling them down the trunk nearly to the grass.

"Won't it hurt the trees?" Annabel asked, as she unloaded his pack and leaned it against a tree.

"Of course not," he said, moving as he spoke across the pine needle floor to another target. "I wouldn't be doing this if it hurt the trees. You've got a lot to learn about me, Annabel."

"Why do you put so many in?" she asked.

"Good question," he said, burying a spike deep in the tree as he spoke. "It used to be we could put in four right at knee level, at the compass points, where the trees are usually cut. But the lumber companies got wise to that and told their loggers to either go higher or lower. So now we fill up a four-foot radius."

"And what will happen if they try to cut it down?"

Stewie smiled, resting for a moment. "When a chainsaw blade hits a steel spike, the blade can snap and whip back. Busts the sawteeth. That can take an eye or a nose right off."

"That's horrible," she said, wincing, wondering what she was getting into.

"I've never been responsible for any injuries," Stewie said quickly, looking hard at her. "The purpose isn't to hurt anyone. The purpose is to save trees. After we're finished here, I'll call the local ranger station and tell them what we've done-although I won't say exactly where or how many trees we spiked. It should be enough to keep them out of here for decades, and that's the point."

"Have you ever been caught?" she asked.

"Once," Stewie said, and his face clouded. "A forest ranger caught me by Jackson Hole. He marched me into downtown Jackson at gunpoint during tourist season. Half of the tourists in town cheered and the other half started chanting, 'Hang him high! Hang him high!' I was sent to the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins for seven months."

"Now that you mention it, I think I read about that," she mused.

"You probably did. The wire services picked it up. I was interviewed on 'Nightline' and '60 Minutes.' Outside magazine put me on the cover. Hayden Powell, who I've known since we were kids, wrote the cover story for them, and he coined the word 'ecoterrorist.' " This memory made Stewie feel bold. "There were reporters from all over the country at that trial," he said. "Even the New York Times. It was the first time most people had ever heard of One Globe, or knew I was the founder of it. After that, memberships started pouring in from all over the world."

Annabel nodded her head. One Globe. The ecological action group that used the logo of crossed monkey wrenches, in deference to late author Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang. She recalled that One Globe had once dropped a shroud over Mount Rushmore right before the president was about to give a speech there. It had been on the nightly news.

"Stewie," she said happily, "you are the real thing." Her eyes stayed on him as he drove in the spiral of spikes and moved to the next tree.

"When you are done with that tree, I want you," she said, her voice husky. "Right here and right now, my sweet sweaty...husband."

Stewie turned and smiled at her. His face glistened and his muscles were bulging from swinging the sledgehammer. She slid her T-shirt over her head and stood waiting for him, her lips parted and her legs tense.

stewie slung his own pack now and stopped spiking trees. Fat black thunderheads, pregnant with rain, nosed across the late-afternoon sky. They were hiking at a fast pace toward the peak, holding hands, with the hope of getting there and pitching camp before the rain started. Stewie said that after they hiked out of the forest tomorrow, they would get in the SUV and head southeast, toward the Bridger-Teton Forest.

When they walked into the herd of grazing cattle, Stewie felt a dark cloud of anger envelop him.

"Range maggots!" Stewie said, spitting. "If they're not letting the logging companies in to cut all the trees at taxpayer's expense, they're letting the local ranchers run their cows in here so they can eat all the grass and shit in all the streams."

"Can't we just go around them?" Annabel asked.

"It's not that, Annabel," he said patiently. "Of course we can go around them. It's just the principle of the thing. Cows don't belong in the trees in the Bighorn Mountains-they're fouling up what is left of the natural ecosystem. You have so much to learn, darling."

"I know," she said, determined.

"These ranchers out here run their cows on public land-our land-at the expense of not only us taxpayers but of the wildlife as well. They pay something like four dollars an acre when they should be paying ten times that, even though it would be best if they were completely gone."

"But we need meat, don't we?" she asked. "You're not a vegetarian, are you?"

"Did you forget that cheeseburger I had for lunch in Cameron?" he said. "No, I'm not a vegetarian, although sometimes I wish I had the will to be one."

"I tried it once and it made me lethargic," Annabel confessed.

"All these western cows produce only about five percent of the beef we eat in this whole country," Stewie said. "All the rest comes from down South, from Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, where there's plenty of grass and plenty of private land to graze them on."

Stewie picked up a pinecone, threw it accurately through the trees, and struck a black baldy heifer on the snout. The cow bellowed in protest, then turned and lumbered away. The rest of the small herd, about a dozen head, followed it. They moved loudly, clumsily cracking branches and throwing up fist-sized pieces of black earth from their hooves.

"I wish I could chase them right back to the ranch they belong on," Stewie said, watching. "Right up the ass of the rancher who has lease rights for this part of the Bighorns."

Table of Contents

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Bears comparison to the best Work of mystery giants such as Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"No sophomore slump from the remarkable talented Mr. Box.... His plots, centering on issues of land management but filled with Old West-style action, are rich in both complexity and narrative drive.... The "outdoor mystery" was a thriving sub-genre before Box arrived on the scene, but he has taken it to new levels of substance and style." —Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Savage Run (Joe Pickett Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 94 reviews.
sopranoIN More than 1 year ago
I just love the character Joe Pickett. Everybody wants to be him...the good guy. And he is the good guy in this C. J. Box novel again. But the story line is exciting, there is a little romance this time and it is a fun, fast read again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Original characters, not the usual perfect detective, he makes mistakes and misjudgements that make him human.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
When it comes to writing a successful mystery series, a memorable, likeable main character goes a long way toward completing the marathon. Joe Pickett has likeability in spades, and his game warden profession provides a unique perspective in a sea of detectives, PIs, and ne’er-do-wells. While the plot may have been a bit farfetched at times, it never seemed so far out there that it proved unreasonable. What really drew me into the story, though, was the beginning. The opening line is perfection, and the second line goes perfectly with the first. The entire opening chapter sings like an Italian opera singer in the middle of his big solo. So yeah, I was hooked like a trout in the middle of your local river, and I sped along as the hook further embedded in my gills. While I didn’t get the same sense of place that I’ve grown to know and love with Craig Johnson, I did find this to be a rather enjoyable read from the first page to the last. And if you’re into well-written mysteries, you probably will too. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good follow up to first book. Really enjoying the character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been enjoying the Joe Pickett series. I'm on #3 and it is good as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second installment of the Joe Pickett, game warden series. It cost $5.99 and was 239 pages long. I wish it had been longer. It was just as good as book one. Well edited with wonderful characters, good plot, great flow and plenty of suspense. I know who the little girl, April, is from the first book and about her parents and siblings, but I would like to know how the Picketts became her foster parents, where her little brother and other siblings are and what became of her pregnant mother? I hate broken threads. This book did not have the kids or dog in it as much as the first one did. There is really graphic murder and extreme violence in this book. Sex is insinuated without any other details. No cursing or religion. A horse is killed in this book. Its death made me cringe. There are some great twists and turns. I really felt sorry for one of the main characters. This is a book for adult men and women. A strong stomach is recommended. AD
pinkgirl54 More than 1 year ago
I saw these books everywhere we went in Jackson Hole & Cody, Wyoming. Of course I had to have the on my Nook. If you like Nevada Barr books, you will love these. I have to have all of them.
Pat_Mower More than 1 year ago
C.J. Box once again puts Joe Pickett into the field, and you go right along with him. You can almost hear the animals around Joe, and feel the air brushing across your skin. Don't miss this one, or any of the others!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the war between the Ranchers and Environmentalists. Great read, will continue to read all the books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I think that the Joe Pickett series is just great. I truly enjoy the way Joe's family is brought into this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is great, love Joe Pickett and his honesty and he's a very upright character in a very rough environment of people and topography! As always when it ended, I had to get the next one immediately! Keeps you wondering all the time what is next for Joe and family and friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent - as usually expected from C.J. Box
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great story.Having been in the area there was a good "view" of that part of the state.Love the family aspect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like C. J. Box's style. His characters are believable and the story is entertaining and interesting. I hope to read all of his books. I would definitely recommend this book to others.
SlapShot62 More than 1 year ago
I liked the first book in this series quite a bit. For a first timer, it hit the mark to keep one interested and hoping for more. In this novel, C.J. Box delivers an excellent follow-up. As silly as an exploding cow sounds, that's a very brief part of this book. The story itself, and the depth of characters and richness of scenery description, all add up to a wonderful ride in this thriller. I'll keep reading the Pickett novels in the future for sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett meets Sheriff Barnum and Deputy McLanahan to head up the mountain to determine what the explosion was that a fire lookout reported. Part of the way they have to ride their horses. They find a large crater. It appears that a cow exploded and killed a woman and a man. It turns out to be environmental activist Stewie Woods and his new bride. The cattle belonged to ranch owner Jim Finotta. When Joe goes to notify him of the death of approximately 10 of his cattle, he notices an elk head on Finotta's wall. Joe determines that Finotta killed it out of season and left the meat to rot. He tries everything he can to prosecute Finotta, but he is so well connected that Joe is stopped at every turn. Unbeknownst to Joe, his wife, Marybeth, knew Stewie many years ago. His death stirs up her memories and puts them in danger as well. Then more environmental activists die in bizarre accidents. Joe knows something is going on, but can't quite put his finger on it. More things begin happening, and the next thing he knows, he is being hunted. Will he ever get home in one piece to his family? I like Joe. He is a great guy. He always tries to do what is right. Quite often that ticks other people off and makes his job harder. This series is a step out of my normal genre. I usually only read cozy mysteries (little sex, violence and cussing). This goes over that line, but because I like Joe Pickett and Mr. Box's writing style, I read this series. I do want to mention that this book is a bit violent and graphic. I found I had to skip over some of those parts. I recommend this book. This is one series that you will want to read. The suspense keeps you guessing and the pace moves quickly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
C.J. Box's Savage Run opens with one of the best first lines I have ever read in a mystery. From that point, the rollercoaster action of this book accelerates and zooms from character to character in a rather bloody manner. The narrative alternates chapters between the killers and everyone else. Joe Pickett, the fish & game employee, muddles his way through the action to arrive alive at the end of this bloody book. His unassuming manner initially leads one to believe him to be slightly inept, but he comes out of each adventure slightly less bemused. This series is rich in character development - and this is getting stronger with each book as the minor characters take on more life.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Kept me reading through the night!
she_climber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the second book in this series I continued to be impressed. This was a fast-paced thrill ride as our hero, with some enviromentalists, are running for their lives in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming from a madman hired by big money to kill them in order to make a statement of their own. I'm excited to move on to book three.
Poprockz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 1st book of the series. Borrowed it from a co-worker.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Second in the Joe Pickett series.Again, the plot revolves around environmental issues--this time, eco-terrorism.Stewie Woods and his brand-new bride manage to get themselves blown up along with a cow on lands leased in the Big Horn area of Wyoming by lawyer-rancher Jim Finotta, a very nasty piece of work. Since at the time, Stewie was also busy spiking trees so that they couldn't be cut down, everyone including Joe assumes that Stewie was trying some other type of eco-terrorism with explosives, which misfired (so to speak), causing the deaths. No one connects these deaths with others around the country, all of whom are connected in some way with environmental action--a Congressman, a lawyer, an author, a wolf restorer. But all are being methodically tracked down and killed by a 2-man team led by Charlie Tibbs, one of the last of the notorious "stock detectives", vigilantes hired by ranchers and a shadowy organization called the Stockman's Trust originally to track down rustlers and other personae non gratas. Now, however, the Stockman's Trust has evolved into a much larger and more formidable organization dedicated to restoring the West to a pre-ecologically aware era. The Trust has supplied Tibbs with the "hit list" and the resources to carrry out his mission.But Stewie is NOT dead--and his resurrection inadvertently drags Joe into a dramatic and exciting showdown with Tibbs and the Stockman's Trust, with an excellent chase through a wild area and final confrontation. The plot is very good, and the climax is really well done. In addition, box handles the environmental issues with a deft light-hearted touch (putting the murders aside, that is). The humor adds immeasurably to the story and to the movement, which could use it.But Box, through his eco-terrorist Stewie, raises several thought-provoking issues as well--such as the environmental movement's need for public awareness in order to raise funds and promote their agenda and the means to which that need sometimes drives them. He makes several intriguing points about the evolution of organizations from original ideals into self-perpetuating institutions. Yet on the whole, this is a fairly balanced look and there is enough to both please and irritate both sides of the environmental question.As in the first book, Box gives a good feel for rural Wyoming, both the landscape, the people who live there, and the politics that prevail. All in all, although the writing from time to time causes some winces, this is a very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The are good books and then there are good summertime books. Box’s Joe Pickett series is the perfect couple-day escape, just right for the beach or a vacation. Not fluff at all, just a great fast-paced armchair adventure. Glad this a well-stocked series - on to the next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago