“Land of Wolves” By Craig Johnson is book fifteen in “The Longmire” Series. Craig Johnson is a storyteller with few equals and presents a current-day plot that is reminiscent of the timeless musical “Oklahoma” where the sheepherders and the cattlemen are just not friends; throw in a rogue wolf and everyone becomes an enemy. Regular readers will find Walt back in familiar territory. New readers will find that any needed backstories are included in the current story, and past tragedies are mentioned in casual discussions; “’You still don’t look so good, Sheriff.’ I sighed a wheezing laugh. ‘I’ve had a rough couple of months.’”
The book is a first person narrative by Absaroka County sheriff Walter “Walt” Longmire and his hundred and forty‑five pounds of canine mix dog, “Dog.” All the usual characters from make appearances or are mentioned within the context of this new adventure including Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Santiago Saizarbitoria, undersheriff Vic Victoria Moretti, dispatcher Ruby, and even Walt’s daughter and grand‑daughter so many miles away. Johnson immediately introduces readers to Wyoming and its geography. “It’s hard to think of a place in Wyoming where the wind doesn’t reign supreme”
Readers get to know Walt through his thoughts and reflections; after all, this is his story from the start to the inevitable tragic finish. The action unfolds in Walt’s casual but familiar style, and readers hear what he says to other people; “You’ve just shot at a police officer, which is a serious offense, so I would advise you to hold your fire.” He talks directly to readers; “You had to really be paying attention to see what happened next, but I had witnessed Henry in these situations before, so I knew what was going to happen.” He shares his thoughts; “I stood there for a moment looking at her— I like doing that to convince people that I’m angry, although all I really am is tired.”
Walt focuses his investigation on the who, what, where, and why of the incident, but he finds lots of questions and few if any answers. He pays attention to every detail; “I stopped for a moment, noticing some carvings on one of the trees. They were fresh, and I could make out the general design but not their meaning. Pulling out a small field notepad, I copied the designs and then returned it to the inside pocket of my jacket.”
In a major newsworthy development, Walt is being dragged, kicking and screaming into at least the 20th Century. (Not the 21st but close) “Leaning a little to one side, I could see a large box sitting on my desk. ‘What the heck is it?’ ‘A computer.’ ‘This is just the slippery slope towards a cell phone.’”
Be sure to read the acknowledgements; Johnson, a true storyteller, takes every opportunity to share his craft. I received a review copy of “Land of Wolves” from Craig Johnson, Viking, and Penguin Random House. Walt as always, is true to himself.
“’Walt Longmire, Sheriff.’ I took off my hat and stopped at the edge of the porch.”