After thoroughly enjoying the new TV series, LONGMIRE, I though I should begin reading the books. Great move on my part. The descriptions and characterizations are outstanding in Johnson's book. There is also a humorous side of Johnson's writing that seems to be specific to the book because there are no time constraints, as with TV.
Sheriff Longmire has been enjoying lazy days in the Wyoming frontier, with very little to push him into duty. He's even contemplating retirement, and hoping that his brash young deputy from Philadelphia, Victoria, would be elected as the new sheriff. He enjoys times with his friend Harry Standing Bull, and has gotten comfortable with his always honest and opinionated receptionist, Ruby. Keeping a couple of his other deputies in line is less enjoyable. And relations between the Native Indians on the reservation territory, and the remaining population, often takes some diplomacy.
All this is rudely disrupted when a dead body is found in Longmire's territory. This was assumed to probably be from an accident until another dead body is found. These two men had been part of a foursome who raped a fetal alcohol syndrome young women ten years ago. Because they were young, and presumably because it was a white on Native Indian crime, and there was a question of the 'knowledgeability' of the girl, the boys had been given a suspended sentence. Longmire suspects that these may be revenge murders, but wonders why the ten year wait.
The story line is suspenseful; pertinent to racial and disability issues; full of striking banter; and descriptive to a certain local. This book is, hopefully, the beginning of great added pleasure to the LONGMIRE TV show that prompted me read the originals in the first place!!!
Johnson writes on a par with Pat Conroy...(Beach Music). He does his homework ... he is authoritative whether talking about fly fishing, Wyoming, Medical injuries, wine, firearms, or forensic matters.... His descriptions of scenes and characters are vivid. It is not the story but the storytelling that makes this book remarkable. I have just bought his next two in the series and can't wait to start them.
This was the best "new read" I've had in a long, long time. The story was so well woven with native folklore and a good old fashioned mystery, with some spine tingling action. It kept me in rapt attention the entire time. I liked it so well that I am burning it to CD (12 of them) so my husband can "read" it as well. I have all three of this author's audio books, and I recommend listening to them in order. "The Cold Dish" first, then "Death without Company" and finally "Kindness Goes Unpunished".
There is so much I liked about this story. The characters are well developed, realistic and appealing. The plot had a good share of twists and turns and who-done-it suspense. I couldn't wait to reach the conclusion, yet didn't want the story to end. The narrator voiced the characters well. All good things, right? My only disappointment, and I felt it throughout, was that the story did not flow. It seemed to drag. The percentage of story devoted to action was too small. Descriptions and explanations took up much of this book. While listening, I often thought, "Get on with the story!" It was hard to tell if the problem was with the leisurely narration or the author's style or both. Sometimes I felt so frustrated that I skipped ahead. I even dozed off while listening--more than once. Even so, I did love the characters and want to read/hear more about them. I hope sequels will move at a quicker pace.
After watching and enjoying the TV series I was excited to hear the audio book version. I was disappointed by the reader. His diction is flawed. I couldn't figure out if he was slightly drunk or his false teeth were slipping but the slurred speech was not appreciated. I would try another from the Longmeyer novel but with a different reader.
I have always liked western adventures so this worked for me.
I had never heard work from this narrator before but was bothered by his slight speech impediment. I sounded to me like an older man trying work around bad false teeth or possible man just a little drunk. Not a good combination. I feel there are many good narrators available that might be a better match for the material.
I never quite understood how Walt made it out of the forest carrying Standing Bear who was badly wounded. I got the fact he was helped by spirits but that didn't quite cover it.
Down the rabbit hole into a ring a fire- the magic of words lifts me higher and higher.
Hands down it was the combination of the lyrical prose and the narrator's delivery. It is wonderful to have a beautifully written story or an immersed narrator, the combination is rare and to be treasured.
I thought of two different sheriff's while reading about Walt and his town. The first is Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone, the second is Frederick Ramsay's Ike Schwartz, two series that I enjoy and follow. I thought about them in the same way that a new friend might remind you of an old one, fondly and with a smile. The stories are not alike but are familiar, as each man has to be the one who has to do the tough job, be strong and swim against the tide or comfort the broken when needed, because when it comes down to it, who else will be the doer of deeds?
From another angle I can compare this book to any of the Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorthy L. Sayers) or Albert Campion (Margery Allingham) novels. Both authors had a particular style that that was for what was considered the better educated and more-informed portion of society. They regularly included what we would consider pop culture references for the time, quoted the classics, waxed poetic, used foreign languages (primarily French & German) , explored home and social issues especially disenfranchised minorities, poverty, war veterans and women's issues, were deeply involved in the romantic hijinks of the main characters, and the close relationship between the men and those they had been through the war with, e.g. Major Wimsey and Sgt. Bunter being shelled during WWI in France, Campion and "Elsie" in the British Intelligence Service. There are more,examples t and most of the same elements are found in The Cold Dish.
My two favorite books by the Queens of Mystery are Sayer's "Busman's Holiday" and Allingham's "Tiger in the Smoke". In Busman's we celebrate Peter and Harriet's honeymoon and I could see in the actions of the man and hear in his words how terrified he was of the tenderness that was overwhelming him, how the emotion choked his eyes and throat and made him tremble. I could see the same thing and was deeply taken over by it while Walt was examining Vonnie's toes the first evening the spent together. In Tiger the main character is not Campion but Canon Avril, and near the end of the story, the priest has a interchange with the killer concerning religious philosophy, explaining to Havoc that his "Science of Luck and Never Go Soft" philosophy has another name: "The Pursuit of Death". In the setting of the thriller I shivered at the cold truth in the dark church. This scene was brought to mind when a highly agitated Walt takes off his jacket in a blizzard to cover his injured friend and tells him to, "... cut out the mystical horsesh*t!", to which his friend replies that it is the mystical horsesh*t that is going to keep him alive until Walt gets back! It may have been the blizzard, it may have been the harshness of the language, it may have been the cold truth, but what ever it was, I shivered!
Something else that was interesting was how I pictured Walt. I know what all the "real" people look like. I've seen the author, the narrator and the actor in the A&E Series. But every time I pictured Walt clearly in my mind I saw the actor Ralph Waite (primarily known for playing John Boy's father in the TV series The Walton's). All old friends, all coming to visit by way of Wyoming.
Personality. Rhythm. Credibility.
In the second book, Death Without Company, Walt refers to some "delusional episodes" during the first big blizzard of the year, which takes place in The Cold Dish. Mr. Guidall makes the scene real. Whether you choose to believe that it was a hypothermia-induced hallucination or that the Old Cheyenne protected Walt and his friend and gave them both beyond-human endurance and stamina, it can be accepted either way. And granted, the proper words have to be there to be played, but they could have been presented in a manner that made the experience silly instead of invigorating.
"The Gift of the Song" section reminded me of my favorite chapter of the Silmarillion by J. R.R. Tolkien, The Music of the Ainur. I've listened to Martin Shaw read that part over and over again for 20-odd years, and some of the evens too! I really want to say sing it, because Shaw makes Eru's gift of a mighty theme to the Ainur soar just a George Guidall does for Johnson's Gift to us.
You'd have to have a rock for a heart not to be affected by the denouement.
This single statement has made me a Craig Johnson fan for life. It is representative of the depth of the work and the kind of book I want to read. The sociopolitical implications behind this quotation are a lesson I will remember for the rest of my life:
"On the afternoon of June 25th, 1876, as the heat waves rolled from the buffalo grass, giving the impression of a breeze that did not exist, Colonel George Armstrong Custer and five companies of the Seventh Cavalry rode into the valley of the Little Big Horn. Also that afternoon, Davey Force, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, went six for six against Chicago, who scored four runs in the ninth to pull out a 14 to 13 victory."
I am rapidly working my way through this series and I LOVE it. George Guidall's narration is absolutely spot on for each and every character and Walt Longmire is a great man's man protagonist. You really feel the chill and wild beauty from the descriptions of Wyoming, you clearly hear the respect that Craig Johnson has for the mountains and people of Wyoming. There is some cursing (Vic - I speak of you), but it matches the character so well I wasn't as bothered by it as I could have been. I highly recommend these books to anyone who loves a good mystery and a well written book combined with a perfect narrator.
Craig Johnson is an undiscovered jewel! Folks, this author is gifted and fairly unknown. In 3 books he has become one of my favorites, right up there with Stephen King. George Guidall's narration is perfect - George IS the character Walt. Please try one of Craig Johnson's books you will not be disappointed.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
After watching Longmire on tv, thought I'd listen to the crusty old sheriff solve a case on audio . . . wow! My husband and I loved Cold Dish . . . and as much as we love the series on tv, some of the imagery is missed, some of the nuance, some of the inner workings of Walt's mind . . . be warned the language is colorful, especially where Vic (Victoria) is concerned, Walt's deputy sheriff . . . This first in the Longmire series, explores Walt's friendship with Henry Standing Bear, owner of the Red Pony Saloon, going back to the friends' younger days and being drafted to serve he Vietnam war. As Walt searches for the killer of a young man, the same one that two years earlier brutally raped a young, Indian girl suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, things are not as they seem . . . and why does the killer leave one solitary feather at the crime scene?
Say something about yourself!
I have a pattern when it comes to adaptations: I go the source material first and read it, and then I watch the adaptation to see how it measures up. Not this time. I fell hard for the A&E television series Longmire thanks to its gorgeous use of setting, consistently excellent acting, and most of all its informed and sensitive portrayal of the interaction and politics between Anglo and Northern Cheyenne communities in Wyoming. In fact, I hesitated about listening to the novels that had inspired the show, in fear that this might somehow compromise my enjoyment of the series. I needn't have worried. Listening to this first of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire novels has only enhanced my appreciation of the Longmire show and convinced me that I need to read all of the other books in the series.
Johnson fits a compelling mystery into a darkly witty work dedicated to careful characterization, a stunning sense of place, and a thoughtful meditation on the human condition. Johnson deserves tremendous credit for how well he portrays characters of and issues relating to different generations, sexes, and races/ethnicities. Readers who value contemporary Westerns, detective and mystery fiction, noir fiction, and well-written, literate, humane fiction in general should give Johnson a try.
I now understand why everyone praises George Guidall's narration of this series, as well. I've heard other Guidall narrations, and I knew he was an excellent reader, but wow - he was born to bring these books to life! This is the perfect marriage of text and voice.