Night Game is the first book I've ever read by Kirk Russell. It is the second book in his John Marquez series about a California Fish and Game agent and his work pursuing illegal poaching.
It's called an "eco-thriller," but it's basically a mystery series with a highly unusual detective. There is a human body count, but the crimes and the law enforcement principles in the book are definitely focused on the wildlife.
Marquez, the protagonist, is a former DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent who now works for California Fish and Game. He leads a team of agents on an undercover assignment to nail poachers and illegal bear bile farmers in the State of California. The story starts simply enough, but there is a number of plot twists. I really enjoyed learning about the challenges Fish and Game agents have in being taken seriously by fellow law enforcement officials and having their jurisdiction and cause respected on equal terms. I really felt that I was seeing real life situations which made me respect these men and women a lot.
I also learned a lot about bear bile farming, poaching and illegal trophy hunting. The perpetrators can be a tough and dangerous lot. I really felt like I got a glimpse into this world and its cruel practices.
The book is not sentimental, but hard-nosed and practical. The situation with wildlife is what it is and there are no easy solutions.
The book is very much a police procedural and there are some slow parts. Sometimes the dialogue reminded me of Dragnet and sometimes I just didn't understand what the protagonist was thinking. But the author made this a compelling read for me and I could never bring myself to put it down.