cover image Dark Sky

Dark Sky

C.J. Box. Putnam, $28 (360p) ISBN 978-0-525-53827-1

Joe Pickett gets a miserable assignment in bestseller Box’s well-paced 21st novel featuring the Wyoming game warden (after 2020’s Long Range): to guide Steve Price, the multibillionaire CEO of Aloft, a social media company, on an elk hunting trip. The executive wants an “actual experience,” albeit one he can flog on social media. But Price gets more than he bargained for when a local man, Earl Thomas, and his thuggish sons seek vengeance on him; Thomas blames his daughter’s suicide on the trolling culture of social media and Aloft’s platform. A suspenseful conflict between hunter and hunted in the rugged, unforgiving mountains ensues, along with an intense battle between man and nature. A subplot involving Pickett’s daughter, Sheridan, and Joe's sidekick, Nate Romanowski, a zealous falconer trying to figure out who’s stealing valuable birds of prey, feels tacked on, and Price, an entitled entrepreneur who will remind readers of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, comes across as something of a caricature. Still, this is another page-turner for Box, who writes lyrically about big sky country. Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary. (Mar.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misidentified the character Nate Romanowski as the boyfriend of the protagonist's daughter.