…trying to remember when I’d last prayed for anything. My mind went back to the spring before last, and a time in Philadelphia when I’d sat in a hospital at my daughter’s side. I’d prayed then-like a theological car salesman, I’d made deals, counterdeals, and threatened the very heavens themselves if they didn’t release my daughter from the swollen solitary confinement to which a terrible accident had sentenced her.
After the high of Hell is Empty, it makes sense that this would be a little bit of a step down. And it was — at least as far as intensity, depth, and so on. It was just as entertaining, just as engaging…just not as ambitious.
Walt and Henry are out doing some last minute arranging for Cady’s pending nuptials when they witness a woman falling/jumping/being pushed to her death in a very scenic location on the Reservation. Which leads, naturally to Walt getting involved in the investigation — this time, he’s also shepherding an inexperienced Rez Police Chief (Lola Long) through dealing with police procedure, community relations and dealing with Federal bureaucracies. Lola reminds Walt (and most readers, I’d wager) of Vic — who is conveniently out of state for most of this book — and he does what he can to steer Lola away from some of her more destructive habits into something that’ll make a good police officer.
There’s a lot of ugliness involved in this investigation — there’s abuse, PTSD and other fallouts of military service, drug dealing, welfare fraud, and so on. Not to mention history — family history, personal history, familial squabbles (intra- and inter-).
One of the highlights for me is the hate-hate relationship we see between Walt and Henry’s ancient truck, Rezdawg. I seriously now want a short story – if not a series of them – featuring the adventures of Rezdawg confounding and infuriating Walt. I promise to buy every single one of them, if Mr. Johnson would only write them.
Walt as mentor to Chief Long was good, too. Demanding, yet understanding. Lola responded well to him, too — once she let herself. I hope we see her from time to time in the future. Same goes for all the non-murderers on the Rez that we ran into in these pages.
Naturally, the emotional beats around Cady and her wedding, whether she’s in the scene or if this just Walt thinking about what her marriage means for his role in her life, her future, and so on — just perfect. The book is about the murder of this woman, who did it and why — but Cady’s wedding is in the background of it all.
As the Crow Flies features a good mix of humor and mystery — a pleasant change after Hell is Empty. There’s no real danger to any of our friends from Wyoming, just good procedure, banter, and character moments — the stuff that keeps mystery series readers coming back. This one did it’s job.