Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dry Bones by Craig Johnson

First Sentence:  She was close to thirty years old when she was killed.
The discovery of the largest, most completely Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found brings a myriad of groups to Absaroka Country claiming ownership rights; tribal, federal, or that of the Cheyenne rancher now found dead in a turtle pond.  Sheriff Walt Longmire is also expecting a visit from his daughter and new granddaughter.  With the help of old friends, and the confusion of several interested parties and enforcement agencies, Walt has a crime to solve; one worth millions in ownership rights to someone.
Whether one loves history or is a fan of Jurassic Park, you’d be hard pressed not to be intrigued by the opening.  And, although our attention has been captured by the first mystery; two more levels are added leaving us compelled to read on.  In fact, the danger of starting a Craig Johnson book is that you can’t put it down until you’re done.
Johnson writes some of the very best dialogue of anyone…”He held the reins out to me.  “Here you go.” …”I glanced at the Bear, who shook his head.  “As much as it pains me to say, you are the better horseman.”  “I shook my head.  “It’s an Appaloosa.  Isn’t that the horse that Cheyenne traditionally rode into battle?”  “It was, because by the time you ride an Appaloosa some distance, you are ready to kill anything.”
The characters are fully developed and interesting, but not stereotypical.  One can particularly appreciate the exchange relating to Walt and Henry Standing Bear’s classical education.  The interaction between them is natural and real, often offsetting the seriousness of the story.  Learning new background on Walt creates an added intimacy with and dimension to, the character, as well as insight into what made him into the man he is. 
The plot is timely and relevant, reflecting many themes present in current events, but they are not politicized.  As well as being entertained, it is also pleasure to be informed and to learn things one, perhaps, hadn’t known.  Added to that, is a soupcon of spiritualism and philosophy…”Maybe that’s what happens when you invest so much of yourself in something; whether it is a person or a place, your soul is loath to leave it.”  These elements add to the richness of the story.

Dry Bones” is, at core of the story, a mystery; and a cracking good one.  There is excellent tension and suspense, as well as a powerful and shocking turn of events surely leading us to the next book.

DRY BONES (Pol Proc-Walt Longmire-Wyoming-Contemp) – VG+
Johnson, Craig – 12th in series
Viking – May 2015

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