Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Serpent's Tooth by Craig Johnson

First Sentence:  I stared at the black-and-orange corsage on Barbara Thomas lapel so that I wouldn’t have to look at anything else.
Sheriff Walt Longmire and his deputy encounter a bare-assed young man and the, supposedly, 200-year-old-man watching over him.  In looking for the young man’s mother, he finds himself tangling with a polygamous group buying up large areas of land in several states.  But where are the wives and children?   While they are stockpiling weapons, they are also buying things that are less expected.  Walt, and his team, becomes involved in a case that starts simple but ends up much bigger and more dangerous than he expected.
Although I’m less cranky about prologues than I used to be, it is delightful when an author takes you straight into the story from page one.  Not only does Mr. Johnson take you there, but he keeps you there until you’ve finished, having a complete disregard for your desire to sleep. 
There is no question that Johnson’s greatest strength is his characters.  He balances their personalities off beautifully.  Walt is well-read and has a strong belief in justice.  Vic, his deputy and occasional lover, has all the sass and impatience of an East-Coast Italian.  It’s always nice to be reacquainted with the other recurring characters surrounding Walt, too.  In this story young Cord and the older Orrin add both interest and humor and provide the bridge in the plot.  Johnson develops the characters and brings them to life through excellent internal narrative and spoken dialogue.  I did enjoy his nod to famous Wyoming defense attorney Gerry Spence
There is room for criticism with this book.  There seemed to be an assumption that readers had read the previous books.  Even being a faithful fan, some of the nicknames for the recurring characters became confusing and wanting a cast of characters.  There was a very minor story line that seemed superfluous and completely unnecessary as it was never developed. 
Still in all, I expect a lot from a Craig Johnson book.  I was not disappointed.  A Serpent’sTooth” is a wonderful read that takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions.  Don’t miss it.

A SERPENT'S TOOTH (Pol Proc-Walt Longmire-Wyoming-Contemp) - VG+
Johnson, Craig - 9th in series
Viking, 2013

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