Open Season by C.J. Box (2001)
Open Season is the first Joe Pickett novel and Joe Pickett, instead of being a sheriff, is a game warden with a great supporting wife and two lovely young daughters. He is a family man, so no sexy ladies for him, but some of his more unsavory colleagues go for romps between the sheets. I had put a slip of paper in one place, where Box does a great job of describing the mentality of certain men and put these words in the mouth of one of the bad guys: "Men are promiscuous. ... We try to pretend otherwise, but deep down we know it's true. We wake up with hard-ons and don't really care who's next to us." The story has the usual mystery, murder, corrupt officials, greed, big bad oil companies, etc. There are quotes from and about endangered species legislation at the beginning of sections of the book, so obviously endangered species are an important piece of the story.
The setting again played an important role in my enjoyment of the book, and this one was set at the foot of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, an area I know fairly well, as I have visited my cousin there numerous times. Twelve Sleep County is fictional, but there really is a Ten Sleep, where a friend of mine recently had car trouble, and the Big Horn mountains are really there, and Billings, MT is the closest big city. So I could visualize Joe Pickett doing his job, traveling around the area, sometimes on horseback. The first time I camped out on my cousin's property, before he had even moved out there, a man came riding up to me on a horse.
I am aware that there are more Joe Pickett books, but I have too many other books stacked up to read, so I will let this author go for now, but when I head out West, I might pick up another.