by Cynthia Chow
We are excited to have a review of the new Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson which is due out on May 13. We also have a fun behind the book interview with Craig, and at the end of the post are details on how to win a copy of Any Other Name.
Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery By Craig Johnson
Review by Cynthia Chow
At any other time, Absaroka County, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire would have been on the first flight to Philadelphia to be at his daughter’s side as she gives birth to his first grandchild. Instead, Walt’s loyalty has him accompanying his old mentor and former boss Lucien Connally to Campbell County on of a plea to investigate the suicide of another detective. Gerald Holman’s widow insists that he was not suicidal, and her years of experience as a court reporter allow her to recognize when the investigating detectives are telling lies.
It doesn’t take too long for Walt to uncover Lucien’s personal obligation, but Walt’s relationship with Lucien is complicated, to say the least, and Walt’s just as quickly sniffs out that something is wrong with Holman’s death. When Walt learns that the detective was in the midst of connecting the disappearances of numerous young women, Walt finds himself involved in an investigation that even Holman’s daughter doesn’t want solved. In the absurdity that has become his life, Walt is soon immersed in a case where facing off against a bull seems less threatening than the stapler-wielding sister of a missing stripper.
Fortunately for Walt and especially to the delight of readers, Walt is joined by his undersheriff/girlfriend Victoria “Vic” Moretti and his best friend Henry Standing Bear, aka The Cheyenne Nation. Vic makes one of the best entrances ever, marking her territory as one of the strongest, most cynical, foul-mouthed, bravest, and yet deeply damaged of law enforcement officers. The wonderful witty and sardonic banter by the three friends is matched only by their intelligence and dedication to one another, making them a force that no criminal can match.
Atmosphere, dialogue, and Walt’s wry wisdom continue to make this series shine. The dichotomy of these country regions is so unique, as the most venal criminals hide underneath a veneer of down-home, neighborly friendliness. Walt can have a brutal bar fight with a bouncer one minute and then share a beer the next as they bond over football injuries. Walt is a brilliant sheriff who glosses over his own intelligence and who has little trouble seeing through the polite, pleasant façade of the good ol’ boys. For true evil does often disguise itself behind a friendly face, while the poorest and seediest of characters may hold the truest moral centers. The television series “Longmire” has deservedly brought more attention to this series, but the lyrical writing and truly clever dialogue of all of Craig Johnson’s books stand on their own. A unique regional setting, extraordinary characters, and great dialogue all ensure that Craig Johnson’s Longmire mysteries continue to be some of the best novels written for any genre.
Use this link to purchase Any Other Name and a portion will go to help support KRL:
Behind the Book Interview with Craig Johnson:
KRL:The relationship between Lucian and Walt has often been tense, to say the least. It always seems to be evolving, and I’m not always sure if they’re enemies or best friends. Has that been your intention from the beginning?
Craig: Well, they’re two very strong individuals with very specific ideas about how the “sheriffing” of Absaroka County should be done, and they’re from different eras so I think that puts them in a position of contention on a continual basis. Lucian will always be Walt’s mentor, and Walt will always be Lucian’s legacy, and a fine one at that. They don’t disagree much on what needs to be done, but they always disagree on how it should be done. It’s an evolving relationship as Walt approaches the age Lucian was when he hired him, but Lucian is getting a little long in the tooth, so he’s coming around a little to the way Walt thinks.
KRL: Walt seems to be the last of a dying breed of stoic, unassuming, but dedicated lawmen. What do you think it is that has made readers connect and fall in love with Walt?
Craig: I think the lifeblood of a series is in allowing the characters to grow and evolve, or else they become static and uninteresting to not only the reader, but the writer as well. I think Greer Shephard, the producer of A&E’s Longmire, said it best–that we’ve been in the throes of the anti-hero for so long that an old-school hero like Walt, who has been gone from the scene for years, now appears almost avant-garde. He’s kind and decent without being weak or wishy-washy, and I think people have been looking for that kind of guy.
KRL: Has the casting of the television show Longmire changed how you envision the characters in your head?
Craig: Not really. I was writing the books for seven years before Hollywood and I found each other and most of the characters are based on family, friends, and neighbors; as strong as the performers are, it’s difficult for them to replace people who’ve always been in my life. I just look at the books and the television series as two alternative universes and figure we’re lucky to have both.
KRL: What has been your most unusual – or strangest – experience in seeing your books being made into a television series?
Craig: That’s easy. We have this wonderful event in Buffalo, Wyoming, about twenty miles from my ranch called Longmire Days where the entire cast comes up and takes part in a bunch of events. Well, there wasn’t anywhere else to take them where they could watch their own show on Monday night, so they ended up at our house. There’s nothing quite as strange as having the actors that play the roles of the characters in the television series based on your books in your house critiquing each other’s performances. I still remember Baily Chase, who plays Branch Connally the deputy who runs against Walt in the election, giving Robert Taylor, who plays Walt Longmire, a hard time about his performance in a particular scene. Robert turned to him, cool as a cucumber—“I won the election, didn’t I?”
KRL: I absolutely love Vic’s entrance into the story. But will she ever openly deal with the trauma from her last book?
Craig: I can’t imagine that she won’t have a breaking point at some time. Vic is one of the toughest characters in my books and the thing about truly tough things is that they don’t break all at once but fissures begin to form over time and take their toll. Let me put it this way; I wouldn’t want to be the one who put the knife into her.
KRL: How do you think Walt will handle being a new grandfather?
Craig: Fabulously, he’s been a pretty good dad, hasn’t he? I think there are some men who just take to that role in life, and he’s one of them.
To enter to win a copy of Any Other Name, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Longmire,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 10, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews (including reviews of more of Craig’s books), book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.