Friday, November 22, 2019

Land of the Wolves by Craig Johnson

First Sentence:  Acknowledgements:  Once, as a young man running fence for a rancher up near Dillon, Montana, I found myself stretching barbed wire over a rocky ridge, having ground-tied my horse below because his shod hooves weren't too fond of the outcropping.

An unusually large wolf is spotted by Walt.  Is it the one suspected of killing sheep from a local herd? When Walt goes to find the herdsman, he finds the man's body and a question as to whether he committed suicide or was murdered. Ranchers want the wolf found and killed.  A woman wants it saved as its DNA is unique.  Henry Standing Bear believes it may be a messenger.  Walt wants to solve the mystery of the herder, especially when another crime is committed.

For those of us who read everything from the cover page on, the "Acknowledgements" should not be missed. There one will find what is essentially a true, short story as a lead to the actual story.

Johnson transports readers into the environment of the story with rich, evocative passages and lush writing.  Lest you fear he gets too flowery, it is balanced by his dialogue which is audible, natural, and tinged with the humor one has come to expect from this author and these characters. "'Why is everyone treating me like a Fabergé egg?' 'After Mexico, all parties have decided that you need a little more adult supervision.'  ... 'Sancho follows me to the bathroom' … 'He's taking his orders very seriously.'" " Finally, there are always things one learns such as about 'predator zones.'

The element of mysticism, often a part of this series, adds a special touch to the story.   Linking the wolf to Virgil White Buffalo, from prior books, and Henry Standing Bear telling about the spiritual relationship between a human and animals is worth considering in these times of environmental destruction.

What is very interesting is that this is a Walt who is older, slower, still recovering from the injuries of his last case.  It is also a slightly more vulnerable Walt, questioning his relationship with his daughter.  Although it is hard to imagine in this time, there has always been a running joke about Walt not having a computer.  That he finally receives one, due to the wonderful character of Ruby, Walt's secretary, provides several delightful exchanges.

Johnson includes fascinating information on a considerable number of topics.  While these are interesting and do relate to the plot, after about the third occasion, it does begin to feel as though it is filler.

"Land of Wolves" takes us back to Johnson's earlier books, which is a very good thing, with his trademark humor, dialogue, interesting characters, and excellent plot twists.

LAND OF WOLVES (PolProd-Walt Longmire-Wyoming-Contemp) – G+
Johnson, Craig – 15th in series
Viking – Sept 2019

6 comments:

  1. I like this series - and Walt Longmire's character - so much. I'm glad that you highlighted this one. I think Johnson has done an excellent job of having the character develop over time and change, as we all do. And, of course, I love the setting!

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    1. I do, too. I was delighted to see this book return to the style I love from himm

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  2. I may try one, it has been a while as they got too mystical for me. I trust you are letting us know this is like the old original books.

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    1. Thanks, Netteanne. This book doesn't have the same mysticism as some of the past, but does have a bit of conversation relating it to Indian spiritual beliefs. It doesn't overwhelm the story and is a logical part of Henry Standing Bear's character. Hope you like it.

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  3. I haven't read any of his books, but this one sounds fascinating. Although, I'll admit - I'm a lover of mysticism in stories, so I'll probably go look for some of his earlier ones too.
    Thanks for the review!
    Trisha Faye

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    1. Hi Trisha - I'd recommend starting with the first book. It's a very good series.

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