Sunday, May 11, 2014

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson

If you only know Walt Longmire because of the Longmire series on A&E, you're missing Craig Johnson's beautiful writing.  Any Other Name, the latest mystery in the series featuring the Wyoming sheriff, is a riveting story. And, as always, Johnson has multiple layers and meanings to this story. I know I've missed some, but I wouldn't mind rereading this book. Once I picked it up, I read it straight through. Last year, Johnson's novella, Spirit of Steamboat, was one of my favorite books of the year. I'm sure Any Other Name will make the list this year.

Sheriff Walt Longmire should be in Philadelphia with his daughter, Cady, awaiting the birth of his first grandchild. Instead, he's with Lucian Connally, his old boss and the retired sheriff of Absaroka County, heading to a neighboring county. Technically, Walt's out of his jurisdiction, but friendship with another lawman knows no boundaries. And, Lucian owed a debt to a dead man. Gerald Holman was investigating cold cases for the Campbell County sheriff's department when he committed suicide. But, the man's widow won't accept that, and Lucian drags Longmire into the search for answers. Why would a man who never broke rules kill himself?

Lucian warns Holman's widow that once Longmire starts an investigation, he won't quit, no matter where the search leads. "He's like a gun; once you point him and pull the trigger, it's too late to change your mind." Longmire does uncover something odd; missing women who disappeared from Campbell County. It seems the dead man had three cold cases involving missing women. And, the search leads to the town of Arrosa, a run-down town with a bar, a post office, strip tease joint, and a school. It's definitely on the wrong side of the tracks, as Walt has to wait time and again to get there while coal cars pass.

Craig Johnson's latest mystery is filled with all the elements that makes his stories so memorable, beginning with the characters. Walt Longmire is surrounded by strong individuals. Any lawman would welcome the assistance of Vic Moretti, Henry Standing Bear, and Lucian Connally. It's a formidable team. Other cops recognize that Longmire is tough. "As soon as a cop gets killed in this state all the old-timers say we need to bring in Walt Longmire." But, they don't see the more human side of him, as he tries to avoid calls from his pregnant daughter. There is a humorous side to this mystery series. Cady and Dog make Walt human. And, the dry cop humor is wonderful.

Walt Longmire is one of the best heroes in contemporary mysteries. His tenacity, his friends, his unusual visions, and his self-deprecating humor set him apart from other investigators. Once you've met Walt Longmire, you won't forget him. Any Other Name is a gripping story, with hints of future trouble for Longmire. By Any Other Name, it can be called one of the best mysteries of the year.

Craig Johnson's website is

Any Other Name by Craig Johnson. Viking. 2014. ISBN 9780670026463 (hardcover), 319p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Mason Canyon said...

I had not read any of Craig Johnson's work before the series came out. Now I enjoy his work more than the series. I have this on my list to read in the coming days and your review makes me want to start reading now. Can't wait to see what he uncovers.

Happy Mother's Day.

Lesa said...

I agree with you, Mason. I like the TV show, but Craig's writing is even better. And, this one is one of my favorites.