“A writer, like a sheriff, is the embodiment of a group of people and without their support both are in a tight spot.”
― Craig Johnson, Another Man's Moccasins
Waiting for the latest X-Men movie, I watched the previews for an A&E series, LONGMIRE. It intrigued me.
I later saw the first season at Wal-Mart for $14.95 and decided to take a gamble and wound up really liking the series.
a sheriff with an unquiet mind, haunted by his losses and driven not to let anyone else down.
I knew that it sprang from a series of 11 mysteries, so I decided to buy the first one, THE COLD DISH.
And it surprised me with how good it was, not going where I thought it would.
Going on the Cheyenne Reservation where he has no jurisdiction but is more respected by the Cheyenne than their own police force,
Longmire is given the legendary Cheyenne Rifle of the Dead, which was used in the Battle of the Little Bighorn and,
it's implied, killed General Custer.
The rifle is haunted by the Old Cheyenne who sometimes use it to call people to the land of the dead.
Then things get really exciting because more hated young people are murdered.
From that time on, Longmire is haunted by the Old Cheyenne spirits throughout the books.
Here is is one of many typical exchanges between Walt and his dispatcher, Ruby (love her):
“Anything you need from me?
“Like where you are?”
“Yep, like that.”
“No, we don’t care.”
I thought I heard someone laughing in the background but I wasn’t sure. (page 90)
THE COLD DISH takes its time and many who prefer fast cars and hot women will chaff, but stick with it, for the ending will hand you your heart.
“I thought about Maggie and how passion was a difficult thing to sustain, but that friendship had a pace that could go on forever.”
― Craig Johnson, Death Without Company
Johnson is beyond belief with how he details relationships.
Lucien, Walt's frontier-mentality mentor, is now in the Durant Home for Assisted Living.
The two play chess every Tuesday. And if the books were just about those games, you would read them:
"We looked at each other like we had for decades, a blind man talking to a deaf one.
There was a line that neither of us was able to cross;
his sneering at my supposed weakness and my righteous indignation at his immorality." -- Death Without Company
Johnson dares to tug at your heart.
In ANOTHER MAN'S MOCCASINS, Walt's only daughter is struggling to recover from severe injuries that initially put her into a coma.
Take this scene -
Walt is standing in an empty ballroom with his daughter, and she asks him to dance even though there is no music playing:
"After a full sweep of the dance floor, I bent down to kiss the U-shaped scar at her hairline and attempted to keep time to the counting of my blessings."
Johnson says he’s sometimes asked if he ever suspected that his mysteries would be as popular as they’ve become.
“The honest answer is no, I didn’t. When I started a string of novels that took place in the least populated county in the least populated state in the U.S.,
I kind of figured the following for such a series might be relatively limited.
But I always remember a piece of advice [best-selling author] Tony Hillerman gave me when I first met him:
‘Follow your heart and write what you enjoy.’
“So I continued to write about a sadder but wiser sheriff, a detective for the disenfranchised,
a little over-aged, a little overweight, but with a considerable amount of miles left in him.
It would appear that there are a lot of us out there like that,
folks who look at themselves in the mirror every morning and aren’t completely satisfied with what they see — but we try,
and in that there’s a certain, worn-to-perfection dignity.”
The audio books are read by George Guidall, who has read them all.
It is a treat to listen to Guidall read a Walt Longmire novel. So, go ahead, sample one!
The poetry of Johnson's prose envelopes the reader, blocking the rest of the world out.
And when the reader turns that last page,
and Johnson releases him/her,
a small part of that world goes along in their head and heart until the reader can return once again.