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Vicious Circle: A Joe Pickett Novel    by C. J. Box order for
Vicious Circle
by C. J. Box
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

An old enemy is out to exact deadly retribution on game warden Joe Pickett and his family in C.J. Box's Vicious Circle, the seventeenth episode in this popular series. As the attacks progress, he's still unsure of exactly who is behind them - and how they're being funded. They have a huge war chest.

It all begins with the search for a missing hunter, Dave Farkus, a layabout who prided himself on having shared many of Joe's previous adventures. Farkus had left a message for Joe about a conversation he heard in the bar relating to the Pickett family. Flying as part of the search team, Joe spots the muzzle flashes of Farkus's murder from the air, and soon suspects Dallas Cates (just out of prison) of the killing. The waitress who was in the bar that same night goes missing too. The surviving Cates hold Joe responsible for the deaths of Dallas's twin brothers and his father. His mother, now a quadriplegic, serves a life sentence in prison.

Matters steadily escalate. April Pickett's roommate is mistaken for her and knifed. Her sister Sheridan is approached by the same crazy tattooed woman, who keeps on coming after them. A corrupt cop damages the case being built against Dallas Cates, who has a very expensive lawyer. Joe's toxic mother-in-law meddles, making things worse. When Dallas threatens Joe directly, he tells him it doesn't have to be 'a vicious circle', but Dallas is obsessed with vengeance. And Joe's close friend Nate, who calls Joe Dudley-Do-Right is just as determined to stop him.

Though I've read and thoroughly enjoyed many of C.J. Box's standalone thrillers, this is my first venture into his Joe Pickett series - great to discover that there are sixteen earlier episodes to enjoy!

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