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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of March 21, 2011

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My favorite new name for a series: Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan.

Cold Wind (Joe Pickett Series #11)
by C.J. Box

The game warden’s back in the game.

Wyoming native and Edgar Award winner C.J. Box — who has also captured Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry awards, as well as the French Prix Calibre .38 — is the author of 11 Joe Pickett novels, the newest one, Cold Wind, returning the rugged protagonist, after several seasons in the capital as the governor’s point man, to the game warden’s immeasurable Cowboy State wilderness, where lie his familiar stomping grounds in Saddlestring, plus his ranch and family, and the real challenges of work.

Sometimes these concerns cross over, for good or bad. Take his mother-in-law. Please. Okay, old joke; but for Joe it’s an old problem with a taxing new twist: Ma-in-law Missy’s sixth husband, multimillionaire Earl Alden is missing and she insists that her son-in-law find him. Which he does, sooner than later, if more worse in shape than better: upon Joe’s search at the ranch he finds his father-in-law du jour’s body in a wind turbine. Sheriff McLachlan, acting on an informant’s tip, knew this was going to be a homicide scene before he got there. He arrests Missy, but Joe’s frame of mind warns him she is being framed, because the informant is her ex-husband Bud Longbrake, who lost his ranch to her when she divorced him. Joe grudgingly investigates when his wife Marybeth begs Joe. He discovers that most everybody who encountered Earl wished him dead, which is enough for Missy to be not guilty in court . But Marybeth wants her serial monogamist mom proven innocent, so she can go on living free and, presumably, marry again in gold-digging splendor.

Adding spillover thrills to Cold Wind, Wyoming politics and the ways and means of the advent of wind power are thrown into the mix, and complications ensue which trigger Joe’s investigative instincts. A kicked-up notch or two of wallop raises the multilayered promise of this rich and rewarding mystery as Joe speculates about Earl’s death, wondering if it is what it appears to be, and broaching the possibility that Missy might have been set up. And he feels a little ambushed with the county DA and sheriff on one side, his wife on the other, his outlaw friend, Nate Romanowski on a lethal mission of his own, and some powerful interests clamoring for his attention. Seems to be a bad case of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t finish at least the chapter you’re reading before you put this page-turner down and go to bed…

MORE FICTION

The Peach Keeper
by Sarah Addison Allen

Breaking the Rules
by Suzanne Brockmann

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar Series #10)
by Harlan Coben

Night Road (First Edition)
by Kristin Hannah

Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider Series #9)
by Anthony Horowitz

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived
by Paul S. Kemp

Invincible (Chronicles of Nick Series #2)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth Series #3)
by Carrie Ryan

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series #12)
by Alexander McCall Smith

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs Series #8)
by Jacqueline Winspear

NONFICTION

The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan
by Kim Barker

The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe
by Peter Godwin

Lee Krasner: A Biography
by Gail Levin

Unfamiliar Fishes
by Sarah Vowell

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