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Publisher's Summary

A holiday tale from the best-selling author of the Walt Longmire mystery series, the inspiration for A&E's hit show, Longmire.

"It' s a question of what you have to do, what you have to live with if you don't." Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on December 24th when he's interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt' s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn' t recognize the mystery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally.

With his daughter, Cady, and his undersheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman' s reticence to reveal her identity, he agrees to help her. At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle' s and swears he's never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers " Steamboat" and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival...back to a record-breaking blizzard, to Walt' s first year as sheriff, with a young daughter at home and a wife praying for his safety...back to a whiskey-soaked World War II vet ready to fly a decommissioned plane and risk it all to save a life.

©2013 Craig Johnson (P)2013 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Spirit of Steamboat

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  • Overall
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Welcome Holiday Diversion

A dangerous, ill-advised medical rescue flight in an ancient aircraft to Denver on a stormy winter's night. Tension aplenty, and a flashback to Walt Longmire's early days as Sheriff, when his daughter was a youngster and his wife was still alive. There's also new insight into Walt's predecessor and friend Luther.

My husband and I listened to this short piece during a holiday driving trip. Walt is always a good companion. Some of our favorite Longmire characters are missing from this novella, and its length prohibits the usual multifaceted plot of Johnson's works, but we nevertheless enjoyed this short adventure. Perhaps not the best introduction to the series, so don't start with this one if you are new to Craig Johnson. But, for fans, it's a great, bumpy ride! And George Guidell, as always, is just spot-on perfect!

17 people found this helpful

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Full Steam Ahead

A feel good Walt Longmire Christmas novella. One Christmas Eve when Lucian was still the sheriff, can-do Walt and Lucian set out on a harrowing adventure to save a young girl's life. She is the only survivor of a terrible car accident and must be transported immediately to a hospital than can treat her life threatening injuries before its too late.

Crazy Lucent, Walt, and a young female pilot that Lucent calls "toots", take on the task of flying an old bomber called, "Steamboat" through a terrible ice and snow blizzard. A wonderful, heroic story of faith and giving sprinkled with a little "nut job".

The perfect blend of humor and Christmas spirit. As always George Guidall's narrative was excellent. Tis the season.

11 people found this helpful

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A Walt Longmire novella without any mystery

I like Craig Johnson's series about Walt Longmire and have listened to 8 of them. This novella is a kind of "Christmas cheer". If you like the series and are familiar with Walt and his friends and family, you'll probably enjoy the book. There is no suspense at all, because the story is a flashback. Despite its attempt to build tension and excitement, it fails as a thriller, since the introduction in "present time" tells the reader how it is going to come out. The writing is as good as ever, and the narration by George Guidall is excellent, as usual. Thus, I rate it as just "ok", as if the author had to satisfy a contract without putting much effort into the story line.

12 people found this helpful

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wonderful little book

What did you love best about Spirit of Steamboat?

Steamboat is an extremely well written little book about my favorite characters. It adds to the readers' knowledge of a couple of them, but more importantly it emphasizes the humanity of them.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Spirit of Steamboat?

Watching Walt hang halfway out of the underside of an airplane (and I do mean watching, because Johnson has a talent for showing the reader the story rather than telling him/her about it) was hair raising. I mean, we knew he would survive -- after all, the action in this book takes place decades before the books in the series, but that doesn't impact the drama in the slightest.

What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator is fabulous and has become the voice of Walt Longmire for me. When Guidall reads a book, I always give it a second look, but in the Longmire books, he is inspired.

Any additional comments?

This book is especially important to me because I love the ongoing series, but it would be a good stand-alone, also, for those who need an introduction to Walt's world. For an investment of just over 3 hours, the reader gets a good taste of Johnson's amazing writing and Guidall's gifted narration. Top notch.

4 people found this helpful

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To fly or not to fly!

This story begins on a Christmas Eve with Sheriff Walt Longmire starting to read his annual reading of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Scattered amongst the story to follow, are pieces of this Dickens's story that have become meaningful to Walt.

A terrible snow storm has resulted in a car crash that kills everyone but one small girl. Her only chance of survival is getting to better medical facilities in Denver's Hospital. Roads are closed and flying is all but forbidden. Her only chance is the courageous, or perhaps stupid team led by the crotchety former Sheriff Lucian Connelly. One legged, and living in an assisted living center, Lucian agrees to help Walt try to save this small girl's life.

Their mode of transportation becomes the old relic antique B-25 named "Steamboat" after the bucking horse on the Wyoming license plates. Many people try to dissuade them taking this flight into the treacherous storm, but the comatose child and her tiny Japanese grandmother. This story is the thrilling adventure as the plane rattles and sputters to Denver under the expert flying of ex-Marine pilot, Lucian.

As always, Craig Johnson knows how to write an exciting and often humorous story. The connections between the horse, "Steamboa", this airplane, and the injured young girl is fascinating. We also learn more about Sheriff Longmire when he first became Sheriff. Excellent story of bravery and courage for all the right reasons!

10 people found this helpful

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Short and Sweetest

This was a shorter Longmire story, but it was really endearing. We get to know a bit more about Lucian Connely's life, and this is before Vic etc. came into Walt's, Cady was still a kid, and Walt's wife was still alive, pre-diagnosis. Such a sweet short story.

2 people found this helpful

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Rating by a pilot and cop

I love the Longmire series and I love the narration style of George Guidall. This book, however, struck a chord with me. The story feels real and the technicalities of the flying are dead on. A couple of times Guidall spoke "aviation" in a way that didn't sound like an aviator was saying it (pronunciation). It was not distracting, however - even to a pilot. This is a great story, just the right length, and well worth your time...aviator or not.

2 people found this helpful

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No mystery, just holiday love

No mystery this time, just a short and (relatively) sweet holiday story about a child who was severely burned being transported through a dangerous blizzard in an old WWII plane to a Denver hospital. Fans may enjoy it because it's told mostly in flashback so you get a little of Longmire’s wife when she was alive. But, on the other hand, this one is very skippable. Grade: B

Perfect narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Love this series...

Short but it was done well. I tend to not buy short books. However, this is a part of the story in a series of books and should not be skipped. It give the reader a good insight into the character of Walt Longmire.The story takes you back to 1988 when he if first elected sherif. It was by accident that this is one of the first books that I bought in the series. I am now going to listen to them all.

2 people found this helpful

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More than a thriller - an existential masterpiece.

“I would have appreciated the irony of the thing.”
Irony indeed. From one existential moment in 1942 to another in 1988.
Great writing and thoughtful meaning.
John can turn a phrase. “There sat the phone on the counter like a loaded gun.”
“I dreamed that night that I was flying; buffeted by the winds and my skin like riveted aluminum.”
That’s writing.

1 person found this helpful