Monday, May 28, 2012

The Cold Dish: A Walt Longmire Mystery, by Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walter Longmire is tired, he has been on the job for over 20 years and isn't sure he wants to be in law enforcement anymore.  He's also depressed, perhaps it's the death of his wife, but that was four years ago, perhaps he's just seen too much over the years.  However, when a young man, involved several years before in the gang rape of a Cheyenne high school girl, ends up dead, he doggedly seeks the reason for his death.

I first read about Craig Johnson's Walter Longmire mysteries last Thursday on my friend Jenny 's A Garden in the Pocket book blog and immediately decided it was a series I would like.  So, it's Monday and I've read the first book of the series on my Kindle.
This mystery features Longmire as sheriff of Absoroka County, Wyoming, which is located at the base of the Big Horn Mountains next to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.  His best friend, Henry Standing Bear, deputy Vic (short for Victoria) Morretti, former sheriff Lucien Connally, along with a cast of likable characters, inhabit this series.  I grew to really like the characters, and Johnson's description of a rescue during a blizzard is first-rate, stark reality coupled with Indian spirituality. 

On the other hand, I didn't find the killer's motive totally satisfying, and the beginning of the book annoyed me.  To me the author's scene changes lack continuity, and I kept thinking I had accidentally hit the page turn on my Kindle multiple times.  I've noticed this "jerkiness" in other first novels so I hope Johnson has smoother transitions in future mysteries--he got better as this book continued or perhaps I just got more accustomed to his writing technique.

I lived for two years on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in the early eighties.  In my limited experience (and alluded to in this book), Indians do not call themselves "Native Americans."  The people I knew and worked with referred themselves as Indians--they weren't worried about politically correct titles.  However, they preferred to be called by their trial affiliation--about that, they were deadly serious.  Thus, on the Rosebud Reservation live the Lakota Sioux.  On the adjacent Sioux reservation, the Pine Ridge Reservation, the inhabitants are primarily Oglala Sioux.  In Johnson's mysteries, the tribe is Northern Cheyenne. 

Jenny also mentioned, in her review of Longmire's latest mystery, that she enjoyed the Cheyenne names--e.g., Standing Bear, Real Bird, Many Camps.  Surnames of people from the Rosebud Reservation that I recall with affection include Black Lance, Gunpowder, Whirlwind Soldier, White Hat and Leader Charge.  Any lover of words has got to be captivated by evocative Indian names, just another reason to be drawn into Craig Johnson's mysteries.

Coincidentally, yesterday when I went to the movies, the promotion for the upcoming A & E show, Longmire, was shown.  Not only does Johnson have a successful book series, but a TV series will premier June 3, featuring Longmire and his friends.  I don't watch much television, but I plan to tune in for this show, just to see how successfully Longshire transfers to the screen.  In the meantime, I plan to read more of these mysteries. 

(To read subsequent posts of other Longmire mysteries, click here for Death Without Company or here for Another Man's Moccasins.  For a brief review of  Kindness Goes Unpunished , click here.)

1 comment:

  1. :) Great names to add to the list!

    I wondered what you would think of the series having taught on a reservation.

    P.S. - I've had computer trouble (and internet connection problems lately)and am trying to catch up on my blog reading.