Friday, June 17, 2016

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

First Sentence:  There is a canyon in the heart of Wyoming carved by a river called Wind and a narrow, opposing, two-land highway that follows its every curve like a lover.
Highway Patrolman Rosey Wayman has been instructed to have a psychiatric evaluation as she claims received several radio calls of "officer needs assistance," at exactly 12:34 a.m. from a long-dead Arapaho patrolman, Bobby Womack.  She has also found, under mysterious circumstances, rare silver dollar coins, a bag of which Bobby is thought to have stolen.  Is Bobby's ghost haunting the Wild River Canyon?  Or is something more corporal at work? 
Johnson does write wonderfully evocative descriptions which create a strong sense of place-"Traveling north through rolling flats, there is a windswept, rocky terrain that stands like a fortress next to the shores of the Boysen Reservoir with ice blue water that reflects the Owl Creek Mountains, looking as if they might run to the Arctic Circle." However, there is also the point at which description begins to feel as though it's merely filler, and it does seem excessive in this story. 

When we finally move on and into the story itself, it begins in a rather disjointed fashion.   Even the initial dialogue--although it's excellent dialogue--- suffers the problem of it being occasionally difficult to tell who is speaking.  All of this is such a shame because the plot is a very intriguing one and worth the effort.
Characters are one of Johnson's definite strengths.  Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear may be the primary characters, but each of the characters comes alive under Johnson's hand.
"The Highwayman" achieves the just the right balance of drama and humor, real and paranormal.  Although one could wish it were up to the standard of Johnson's earlier novella, "Spirit of Steamboat," it  is still filled with plot twists, action and danger, and ends up being a good way to spend a weekend afternoon. 

THE HIGHWAYMAN (Msyt-Sheriff Longmire/Henry Standing Bear-Wyoming-Contemp) - G+
      Johnson, Craig - Novella
      Viking - 2016

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