Copyright: May 2012 (Viking Adult) 320 pgs
Series: 8th in Walt Longmire Mysteries
Sensuality: some adult references
Mystery Sub-genre: Police procedural
Main Character: Sheriff Walt Longmire
Setting: Modern Day, Absaroka County Wyoming
Obtained Through: from publisher for an honest review
Henry Standing Bear and Walt have been tasked with securing a venue for Walt's daughter's wedding. But they run into difficulty. They end up in the wilderness around Painted Warrior cliffs scouting an outdoor wedding location for Cady, when they witness a women plummet from the cliff heights to her death. When they race to the location, they find the woman dead, but her infant managed to survive. The location is not within Walt's jurisdiction, which is good, because he has a wedding to take care of, right? The new Sheriff for that location is an Iraq war hero, but she is inexperienced as a police officer. The beautiful and fierce Chief Lolo Long asks Walt to help her untangle this web of who would kill an abused wife and her infant, and give her some on-the-job training while he helps.
Walt is a fascinating character, tough guy widower whose daughter means the world to him, with humorous with wry western wit, and a self-effacing manner. His best friend, Henry Standing Bear, is in most of this book and shows his temper with hints of his past. These two are golden together as the male buddies who have each others backs. Chief Lolo Long is well portrayed as a quick-to-anger woman who is tough as nails, but has a difficult time mellowing after her traumatic time serving in Iraq. Walt's dog, named "Dog," is the self-appointed protector of the infant survivor and gets three cheers for his role. Henry's ramshackle truck, RezDaug, is practically a character, serving as Walt's inanimate nemesis. Cady has a few cameo appearances woven through the investigation along with her mother-in-law, both showing how capable they are.
The setting is on the Cheyenne Reservation. While the location may not be a character in itself, it is portrayed in a manner to accentuate the entire story, providing the contrast, shading, and flavor to the drama. The plot has a slight rough beginning due to the low believability factor of hiking into the woods looking for a wedding site, but quickly solidifies to rock solid.
The pace remained steady through the twists and turns to the investigation right up to the confrontation with the killer. Even the killer and motive seem stained by the settings savage beauty, as though the sadness of the Reservation touches everybody's life.
This is another powerful addition to the series with Mr. Johnson's now-signature writing style. I enjoy this series and each book is finely crafted. The books surpass the new television series "Longmire" by light years in my opinion. I highly recommend this modern-western style mysteries and this book in particular.