Earlier this year I scooped up a terrific bargain at a booksale: five of Craig Johnson’s Walter Longmire mysteries, and have just finished reading the first story in the series.
Sheriff Walt Longmire, long-time lawman of Absaroka County in Wyoming, faces numerous challenges – staff issues within the Sheriff’s department, his own depression and despair over the (fairly) recent death of his wife, and now someone is systematically knocking off the young adults who, as teenagers, gang raped a local Cheyenne girl, who was a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. The rapists went to trial but got light sentences, due to their young age. But obviously the verdict isn’t sitting well with the local community. Is the murderer from the local Indian community on the Reservation? Or is an incensed citizen of the small town dishing out community vengeance ? Revenge is a dish best served cold, as the old saying goes.
Due to Johnson’s skilful writing laced with dry humour, a plot which could have been heavy going, keeps the reader interested and entertained. I must say I was shocked and surprised by the revelation of the murderer’s identity, but the book is a great deal more than a whodunit.
What I enjoyed the most were the descriptions of the high mountain country, the changing seasons, and the tough people who live and farm in the area. Johnson gives us a rich assortment of characters living in town and on the Rez, particularly Walt’s lifelong best friend, Henry Standing Bear. Henry is owner of the Red Pony Saloon. He is grave (he never uses contractions in his speech ) dignified, and something of a gourmet cook. And finally: Walt Longmire himself is being pursued and flirted with by several ladies in the town, to his gruff consternation. He is, after all, a widower, and he does have an appreciation of female beauty. Well – in an old school kind of way, you understand.
A wonderfully well rounded read which I heartily recommend. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.