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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review - A Serpent's Tooth

I have been following this series before it became a television series, so I have a few prior reviews available you can read.  #8 As the Crow Flies (click here,) #7 Hell is Empty (click here,) #6 Junkyard Dogs (click here,) and and author interview (click here.)   This newest release has a different flavor, so read on and see what you think.

Author: Craig Johnson

Copyright: June 2013 (Viking Adult) 352 pgs

Series: 9th in Walt Longmire series

Sensuality: adult references, "F" bombs

Mystery Sub-genre: Police Procedural-Western

Main Characters: Sheriff Walt Longmire 

Setting: Modern day, Absaroka county in Wyoming

Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review

The beginning has an element of humor to it.  Barbara Thomas claims she has an angel that does whatever chores she needs.  She leaves out a list of maintenance jobs in her house and leaves, when she returns the work is done...along with some food. Walt has to figure this mystery out and quickly discovers a young boy living in her pump house, who helps himself to the food and in exchange does the work.  But Walt finds more than just a runaway,  Cord is an outcast from a Mormon splinter group called The Apostolic Church of the Lamb of God and has a personal protector who thinks he is a two hundred year old notorious Mormon endowed with immortality by Joseph Smith himself. What starts as Walt searching for Cord's mother, who he suspects has been killed, turns into uncovering everything from a well armed cult to an old CIA operative. 

Walt displays more of a western macho attitude.  In this book Walt seems to have more exagerated bravado, and some violent confrontations that didn't seem reasonable nor in character.  Deputy Victoria Moretti, the love interest, seems hard core just for the shock value.  Although I did get more of an idea about her character than in the last books.  Of course the star, in my opinion, is really Henry Standing Bear (that Walt calls "the Cheyenne Nation").  Henry gets to shine in this book since he is incorporated into quite a bit of the story.  The other deputies like  Saizarbitoria, Double Tough, and Frymire are present and add some emotional depth to the story.

It took awhile for me to get hooked by this book.  There just seemed to be a slow build-up from the boy Cord to the real situation that Walt must confront.  The last half of the book is when I felt compelled to read it.  The plot, in looking back, is bigger and bolder than most of the series. The bigger concept ultimately didn't appeal to me nearly as much as the more local drama of past books.  But that may just be me.  Wyoming's more sparse and open spaces are spotlighted which supplies a sense of isolation, and at times slightly melancholy touches.

The climax was a nail biting, hair raising ride.  This is where the pay off really awaits.  It was also a bigger scale, more along the lines of a Burn Notice episode than a county sheriff's job.  The wrap-up had some tears and sadness alongside potential for Walt's future.

This book in the series seemed to be moving into bigger scale plot concepts that changes the feel a bit, but remains multi-layered with the classic Longmire wit and humor in tact.

Rating: Good - A fun read but didn't seem to be the best in the series. Maybe read an excerpt before buying. 

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