Author: Craig Johnson
Genre: Western mystery/contemporary fiction
Pages: Oversize paperback, 354
Publisher: Penguin, December 2004
Opening Lines: "'Bob Barnes says they got a dead body out on BLM land. He's on line one.'"
"After twenty-four years as sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County, Walt Longmire's hopes of finishing out his tenure in peace are dashed when Cody Pritchard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Two years earlier, Cody had been one of four high school boys given suspended sentences for raping a local Cheyenne girl. Somebody, it would seem, is seeking vengeance, and Longmire might be the only thing standing between the three remaining boys and a Sharps .45-70 buffalo rifle.
"With lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and a cast of characters both tragic and humorous enough to fill the vast emptiness of the high plains, Walt Longmire attempts to see that revenge, a dish best served cold, is never served at all."
~ Jacket copy
After seeing the ads all over the place and realizing it took place in Wyoming, I did a marathon session of Longmire season one in hopes of catching season two at the get-go. And imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a series written by an author in Ucross, Wyo.! Of course, I wanted to read the books; however, buying more novels was really not in my budget. Unfortunately, Craig Johnson came to our local bookstore for a Q&A session and a book signing. Since my parents were back in Wyo. visiting and I had gotten them addicted to Longmire, we all went down to the bookstore, bought the first book, and had them signed. It was a blast! And Craig is so funny and very personable!
Three years after his wife's death, Walt Longmire is look forward to possible retirement. However, if you ask Vik, his transplant from Philly, he really hasn't been present the last three years. Whether for good or ill, that all changes when the body of Cody Pritchard is found on BLM land by sheep herders. After the body had been munched by the animals, shit and pissed on by the sheep, and exposed to the elements, it seemed rather hard to rule it as anything but a hunting accident. However, after close inspection, they discover Cody was shot with a Sharps Buffalo Rifle, which is a collectible antique. In addition, an eagle feather was left on the body. Since Cody was part of a group of boys that raped a Cheyenne girl, Walt wonders whether this murder traces back to the reservation and the girl's relatives.
Walt is in a race against time to find the perp and save the remaining boys from the same fate. However, even though he is a good sheriff, he struggles with the fact that the boys got off with hardly a slap on the wrist. And there isn't a person in town, including his best friend, who wouldn't have wanted the boys dead.
This was a very interesting start to the series. I wasn't expecting it the tackle such a huge issue as the rape of a girl with fetal alcohol syndrome. Further, the hatred of the boys in the town and on the Rez was another big issue to deal with. Honestly, the author did a good job in handling it.
Walt is a really good, down-to-earth character. For me, he really seemed like an "every man" in a lot of ways. He has been the sheriff of a small town for a long time, dealing with the death of his wife, and his daughter lives across the country. Even though he went to school in California and served in Vietnam, he is still a small town man. And, to be honest, that is what I like about him. The author did a wonderful job of capturing the Wyoming native/cowboy. It was obvious he knew his stuff and was very familiar with the lifestyle out here.
Aside from Walt, Henry practically made the book. Their relationship, friendly bantering, and Henry's diction had me continue reading. He is marvelously hilarious! Plus, it takes a saint to be able to put up with Walt the way he does. I cannot wait to see more of this character.
The storyline was definitely engaging, and it took me by surprise when we finally find out the identity of the perp. That being said, I felt it was too loose a fit for who it turns out to be. Without giving anything away, it is really hard to discuss. Also, even though the spiritual elements were interesting in relation to the Sharps Buffalo Rifle, it seemed to come out of the blue and rather extraneous while Walt is trying to save George and Henry. I found myself skipping large sections of text because it just drug on. Plus, it felt as though Walt was tripping on some heavy narcotics. And, because it's my biggest pet peeve, there were editing issues. It didn't distract from the book, but another round of editing would have helped.
After listening to Craig Johnson speak and watching Longmire, I am very curious to see how the series progresses. It is wonderful to read a book about the state I grew up in and will always love as my home! He is able to really capture the beauty, magic, and lifestyle of Wyo., and that is refreshing.
Current Pages: 8836