Sharing Books and Authors, with an emphasis on Mysteries.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Death Without Company by Craig Johnson
If Jen Forbus has her way, Craig Johnson would receive the recognition he deserves. No one is a bigger fan than she is. I'm glad, because she introduced me to his wonderful books. And, she's right. He's not as well-known as he should be. I've only read the first two books in his Walt Longmire series, but they're beautifully written mysteries, with fascinating characters. I loved Johnson's comment in this second book, Death Without Company. "It's a character-driven piece." It certainly is. If you read mysteries for the characters, as I do, you should be reading Craig Johnson's books.
Walt Longmire has been the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming for almost twenty-five years. And, his day-to-day job consists of recruiting jurors for a jury pool, handling traffic accidents in the snow, and trying to hang on to competent deputies. But, once in a while, he gets a case that is so complicated that his entire team, along with his friends, family, and even his dog, called Dog, become involved.
Lucian Connally was the sheriff who hired Longmire, fresh from a stint as a military cop in Vietnam. The two men might have different styles, but Walt still respects Lucian's opinion. So, when Lucian insists that Mari Baroja, a fellow resident at the Durant Home for Assisted Living was murdered, Longmire is willing to look into it. But, then Lucian shocks Walt by saying he was once married to Mari, until her Basquo father and uncles annulled the marriage. Lucian's stories of Mari and her family drag Longmire's team into an investigation that immediately turns violent, as someone tries to kill everyone who knows the past history of Mari Baroja. However, does anyone actually know the whole truth?
In the Walt Longmire series, Craig Johnson has created a cast of characters with depth and personality, beginning with Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear. But, every one of Johnson's characters are individuals who demand attention, from those who are a permanent part of his team, such as his deputy, Vic Moretti, and Ruby, who runs the office. The newest deputy, Santiago Saizarbitoria, immediately fits in, with an enormous personality. Unlike so many other authors, though, Johnson pays attention close attention to minor characters, who live on his pages.
The investigation is the most important part of the story, as it should be in a police procedural, but these books are so much more. Johnson has a way with a phrase. Ruby keeps messages for Longmire on Post-it notes, and turns them over when he comes into the office. He says he, "Picked up my life in Post-it form." There's humor in these stories, and it can be very dry, as fits people who have lived difficult lives. Death Without Company has an intriguing, complicated storyline with surprises, wonderful characters, and beautiful writing. These mysteries are for anyone who misses Tony Hillerman, or wants to read outstanding crime novels set in the West. And, Death Without Company is definitely for anyone who wants to read a "Character-driven piece."