Kindness Goes Unpunished (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

Kindness Goes Unpunished (Audiobook)Kindness Goes Unpunished

by Craig Johnson, George Guidall
Series: Walt Longmire, #3
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., 42 min. pg.
Recorded Books, 2011
Read: June 29 – July 3, 2017

I was going to try to come up with something original for this time through the book, but mostly, I liked what I said last time, so let’s stick to that. I do have a few new things to say at the end, I should note.

It’s a sure sign that I need to spend more time reading Johnson than watching the show based on this series in that I’m consistently surprised at how funny these books are. Sure Henry Standing Bear’s dry wit is there, Vic is brash and inappropriate — amusing enough — but the narration, Walt himself? I chuckled a lot.

So, Walt and Henry (and Dog!) are off to the City of Brotherly Love to visit Walt’s daughter, Cady, meet her boyfriend, and for Henry to do something at a museum (just an excuse to see Cady). Oh, and conveniently enough, to meet Vic’s family (three police officers, one former police officer, and one attractive mother). After arriving in town, Walt doesn’t even get to see Cady before she’s brutally attacked and hospitalized.

Naturally, Walt stumbles upon the one person in Philadelphia who’s more knowledgeable and interested in Indians than Henry. It’s that interest (obsession?) and his connection to Walt that makes Walt the best man to track down the man who put Cady in the hospital (and other assorted nefarious acts). That’s a level of coincidence that you just buy — like Gideon Oliver vacationing somewhere that a set of bones surprisingly shows up; Nero Wolfe needing information from someone who’s a sucker for orchids; or that every falsely accused murderers that Andy Carpenter stumbles upon happen to own a cute dog.

There’s enough twists, turns — and one seeming unnecessary but entertaining diversion (that turns out to be not so ancillary) — to satisfy any mystery reader. Even out of water, this fish can swim. There’s some very interesting things that go on in the character’s personal lives that should make things interesting down the road (and that I can’t talk about while remaining spoiler free) — enough to make this more than a tale of a father’s vengeance.

The first chapter (only one in Wyoming) is great — Walt totally failing to connect with an elementary school classroom, a fun and prototypical Absaroka County shootout, and other things that make up a typical day for Sheriff Longmire on the eve of his trip.

One thing that I did take note of last time, but didn’t write about was the theme of daughters and parents. There’s a lot about Vic and her mother, but the focus is on Cady and the place that she has in Walt’s head and heart. I’m not sure how you could read/listen to this without your heart melting a bit — particularly if you have a daughter who’s growing up a bit too quickly, like me. Guidall did a solid job with his narration of this book, but his performance in the last chapter just about broke me.

Walt in the big city, like Walt in the least populated corner of Wyoming, is just a pleasure to spend time with — even if things are going horribly for him.

—–

4 Stars

Death Without Company (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

Death Without CompanyDeath Without Company

by Craig Johnson, George Guidall
Series: Walt Longmire, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs. and 51 mins
Recorded Books, 2007
Read: June 7- 12, 2017

Everything to do with women is foolish, and, therefore, absolutely essential.

This novel picks up a couple of weeks after The Cold Dish, with Walt still trying to get his head on straight — and it’s not going to well. The major impetus for him now is the impending arrival of his daughter, Cady, for a visit over the holidays. There was enough of a gap between the time I read the first two installments in this series that I missed a lot of the ties that connected the two. I appreciated a lot of the little nuances this time through the novel that I’d missed the first time.

Otherwise, I pretty much agree with what I said before:

The atmosphere of the book, the relationships between Vic, the Ferg, Henry, Cady and Walt are effortless, they feel like coworkers and friends. So even when the bodies start to pile up, the external pressures mount, and answers are in short supply, there’s an ease to things that make the book more entertaining than it could’ve been. Even as Sheriff, Walt still comes across as deferential and secondary to his former boss Lucian Connally (though he doesn’t hesitate to put his foot down when necessary).

When Lucian tells Walt in no uncertain terms that a death in the retirement home he lives in is not from natural causes, he has to investigate. Even if he’s not entirely convinced. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Lucian’s right — otherwise, we wouldn’t have a novel to read. Which takes Walt on a journey through the murky history of both one of Walt’s oldest friends and the area he calls home — this time with a different minority group as the focus (though the Rez and its inhabitants are always lurking around in the background).

There’s a new romantic interest in these pages — as well as a couple of new deputies for Absaroka County (the particular skill set of one of these is a bit too deus ex machina-y for my tastes, but he’s so likable, who cares?). Throw in the kind of snow storm you can only get in rural Wyoming (or areas like it) and some brushes with Indian spirituality, and you get a distinctive kind of mystery novel, making the adventures of Walt Longmire and his cohorts the kind of story you can get nowhere else. It won’t take me as long to come back to this series next time.

Guidall took awhile to grow on me in the first book — but now he’s just what Walt sounds like (I imagine when I read a Longmire book the voice in my head will be some sort of blend between Guidall and Robert Taylor). I thought he did a great job all around.

This novel took the foundation that Johnson laid and started building on it so that it could become the series we all love. I’m glad I got a chance to revisit it, and recommend those that haven’t tried it yet to come on down to Absaroka County.

—–

3.5 Stars

The Cold Dish (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

The Cold DishThe Cold Dish

by Craig Johnson, George Guidall
Series: Walt Longmire, #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 13 hrs. and 18 mins
Recorded Books, 2007

Read: June 7- 12, 2017


This is by and large what I had to say about the book a couple of years ago — but I’ve expanded it a touch.

It’s hard to believe this is a first novel. I love it when that happens. Johnson is assured in his writing, he knows his characters and their world, there’s no mistaking that. The world and the characters are very well-developed, it’s hard to believe that Johnson worked in as much backstory as he did for these characters in such a short space. Walt, Vic, Henry Standing Bear, Lucien — they’re all fully fleshed out and ready to go.

As always, the mixture of Cheyenne Mysticism (for lack of a better word) and Longmire’s realism (and Vic’s cynicism) is great — even at this point, Johnson’s ready to present things that could be Cheyenne ghosts, or it could be Longmire’s mind playing tricks on him as a result of injury and exposure without taking a clear narrative stance. It’s not a fast-paced tale by any means–Johnson saunters through his prose like Longmire would through the world. That doesn’t mean it’s not gripping, though. It’s lush with detail, as scenic and expansive as the Wyoming country it takes place in.

It took awhile for Guidall’s narration to work for me, I did eventually come around, and I expect I’ll enjoy him more fully in the next book.

I figured out whodunit pretty quickly, but it took a while to get the why. The journey to the why was compelling, interesting and well worth the time. Looking forward to the next installment.

—–

4 Stars

Pub Day Repost: An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

An Obvious FactAn Obvious Fact

by Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire, #12

eARC, 320 pg.
Viking, 2016

Read: July 29 – 30, 2016

4 Stars

Craig Johnson is so consistent with these books that he makes it really hard to write about them. I’ve struggled with this one for weeks — how can I say something I haven’t before? I’m not sure I can, but I guess I can start with what makes this one different from the rest.

For starters, Henry’s borrowed Walt’s set of Sherlock Holmes (without his knowledge or consent, but who cares) and spends the novel quoting Holmes at inopportune times to his buddy. I laughed every time. Walt didn’t find it that amusing — and paid him back by talking about what a silly and reckless endeavor riding motorcycles is — much less racing/jumping/etc. He had plenty of opportunity to make these kind of remarks as the two of them were in Hulett, WY for the world’s largest motorcycle rally, where Henry is attempting to recapture a victory of his younger days.

Walt’s been brought in to help with the investigation of a motorcycle crash, the small local police force is stretched beyond itself due to the rally and really can’t take it on. It seems pretty cut and dry on the surface — just a bad break and a bit of careless driving. But every time Walt looks at another piece of evidence, he finds more reasons to doubt the obvious facts.

We learn a lot about Henry in this book — but he’s not really in it all that much (at least less than he’s been in others, lately). And while he’s not really at odds with Walt, you really can’t say that he’s on his old friend’s side throughout (nor is he really acting all that rationally).

Vic comes back to Wyoming, and injects her flair into the investigation and Walt’s life. She also continues to be the embodiment of many men’s dreams between her looks, brains, language, driving and shooting. I’m not going to say if she’s my Platonic ideal, I will say that for a totally unrealistic character, she’s a whole lotta fun.

The Whodunit was pretty easy, the Whydunit was trickier (and the Accessories to the Who were more difficult, but not hard). But, hey, we don’t read these books for the puzzle — we do it to watch Walt figure things out and to spend time with our friends from the Equality State (and the nations within it). In the end, this is just what you expect out of a Walt Longmire novel — some laughs, a nice little puzzle, a little fisticuffs, maybe a little gunplay (not necessarily a shoot-out). Well-paced, well-told, all in a day’s work for Johnson.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Viking via First to Read in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

—–

4 Stars

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

An Obvious FactAn Obvious Fact

by Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire, #12

eARC, 320 pg.
Viking, 2016

Read: July 29 – 30, 2016

4 Stars

Craig Johnson is so consistent with these books that he makes it really hard to write about them. I’ve struggled with this one for weeks — how can I say something I haven’t before? I’m not sure I can, but I guess I can start with what makes this one different from the rest.

For starters, Henry’s borrowed Walt’s set of Sherlock Holmes (without his knowledge or consent, but who cares) and spends the novel quoting Holmes at inopportune times to his buddy. I laughed every time. Walt didn’t find it that amusing — and paid him back by talking about what a silly and reckless endeavor riding motorcycles is — much less racing/jumping/etc. He had plenty of opportunity to make these kind of remarks as the two of them were in Hulett, WY for the world’s largest motorcycle rally, where Henry is attempting to recapture a victory of his younger days.

Walt’s been brought in to help with the investigation of a motorcycle crash, the small local police force is stretched beyond itself due to the rally and really can’t take it on. It seems pretty cut and dry on the surface — just a bad break and a bit of careless driving. But every time Walt looks at another piece of evidence, he finds more reasons to doubt the obvious facts.

We learn a lot about Henry in this book — but he’s not really in it all that much (at least less than he’s been in others, lately). And while he’s not really at odds with Walt, you really can’t say that he’s on his old friend’s side throughout (nor is he really acting all that rationally).

Vic comes back to Wyoming, and injects her flair into the investigation and Walt’s life. She also continues to be the embodiment of many men’s dreams between her looks, brains, language, driving and shooting. I’m not going to say if she’s my Platonic ideal, I will say that for a totally unrealistic character, she’s a whole lotta fun.

The Whodunit was pretty easy, the Whydunit was trickier (and the Accessories to the Who were more difficult, but not hard). But, hey, we don’t read these books for the puzzle — we do it to watch Walt figure things out and to spend time with our friends from the Equality State (and the nations within it). In the end, this is just what you expect out of a Walt Longmire novel — some laughs, a nice little puzzle, a little fisticuffs, maybe a little gunplay (not necessarily a shoot-out). Well-paced, well-told, all in a day’s work for Johnson.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Viking via First to Read in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

—–

4 Stars

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

The Highwayman The Highwayman

by Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire, #11.5

Hardcover, 190 pg.
Viking, 2016

Read: June 7 -8, 2016

We’re taught to work independently, but nothing strikes you quite like a 10-78 [Officer Needs Assistance], the urgency to reach a fellow officer in need. It’s instinctual to individuals who are trained to respond and risk their lives for each other and complete strangers.”

Having been in Wyoming Law Enforcement for so long, he knows pretty much every officer in the state. One such person is Rosey Wayman, a Highway patrolman who’s having some problems. She’s taken a new assignment, a jurisdiction once patrolled by a (literally) legendary officer. Since then, well, strange things have been happening. Walt and Henry (as a favor to her and her C.O.) have dropped by to act as sort of independent witnesses — basically to determine if her imagination is getting the best of her, or if there are strange things underfoot.

One of the best parts of this series is the way that Johnson writes about things that can’t be readily and easily explained (generally) without spelling things out for the reader. Yes, a character may be having a psychological problem, a physical problem, or there might be a spiritual dimension to what they experience — maybe all of the above — but what Johnson won’t do is tell you what happened. Henry, Walt, Ruby, Lucian or any number of others just might express their thoughts/opinions/beliefs, but the author won’t.

Which means that when Johnson tells a ghost story? You’re in for a good one. One where you have no idea if the ghost in question is a manifestation of someone’s (or multiple someones’) subconscious.

I will admit I was confused when I saw this was advertised as a novella. The last Longmire novel, Dry Bones was 306 pages long, and this was listed at 200 (190 is my count). How did that qualify as a novella (which is a fairly slippery term, anyway)? And then I picked up a copy. This one measured at 5.3″ x 7.4″ (Dry Bones was 6.2″ x 9.2″). Which explained everything. Reading it made it clear that it wasn’t a novel — one story, no personal drama, no ongoing story/character arcs — just Walt, Henry and Rosey on a ghost hunt.

Lean prose, great characters, a setting that means more than just the place where the action takes place (and is described thusly) — everything you want in a Longmire story.

One other thing that I have to mention — the elderly Arapaho sha-woman that Henry introduces Walt to is a real hoot. Her teasing/harassment of Walt was a needed dash of fun in this book, I can only hope that Johnson finds an excuse to use her again.

If this was a novel, it’d be 3-3 ½ stars, but since it’s supposed to be a novella, I’ll give it a 4. Just what the doctor ordered to tide you over until the next full book.

—–

4 Stars

Dry Bones by Craig Johnson

Dry BonesDry Bones

by Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire, #11
Hardcover, 306 pg.
Viking, 2015

Read: December 5, 2015
So, possibly the largest Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered is found in Wyoming (which is apparently a pretty good place to find them, who knew?), and there’s a battle brewing over who it (and the very large price tag that’ll surely be attached to it) belongs to. There’s enough drama there, but you don’t pick up a Walt Longmire novel for paleontological wrangling, you need a dead body or two. Thankfully, one shows up not too far away, and Walt’s old friend, Omar finds it.

Johnson’s pretty good at keeping several plates spinning, but this time he seems to have outdone himself — we’ve got a controversy over who gets custody over the T. Rex, with three different parties; a runaway; dealing with FBI and a Deputy U. S. Attorney looking to make a name for himself; Double Tough’s recovery from A Serpent’s Tooth; Vic’s continuing recovery from the same book; a visit from Cady and her daughter; oh, yeah, and the murder. About halfway through I actually stopped and wrote them all down, and asked myself “how’s he pulling this off?” I’m honestly not sure, but he did.

Which does mean he pulled it off flawlessly. It didn’t take too long to figure out where the Deputy Attorney story was going — aside from the running source of comedy. But honestly, I think we needed a couple more scenes to make it worthwhile. We got to see Lolo again — which was nice, but she didn’t get enough to do. Still, just glad to see she’s still in this world. I do think the skeleton controversy vanished a bit (understandably) in the middle, when I think it could’ve kept going.

But overall, this was a fun, quick ride, with Johnson (and Longmire) firing on all cylinders, and I can’t wait for the next one to see how the events of this book impact our friends going forward.

Oh no! I’m all caught up (other than the short story collection) with the Longmire books — whatever shall I do? Actually that’s a really good question, I’m going to miss my monthly visits to Absaroka County.

—–

4 Stars