Craig Johnson's Dry Bones marks the return of Sheriff Walt Longmire and his team in a mystery with echoes from the past. And, it can't go much further back than the ages of the dinosaurs.
Jennifer Watt's dog actually made the discovery, "one of the greatest paleontological discoveries in modern times". Named for Watt, "Jen", the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, was uncovered in Absaroka County, Wyoming, causing all sorts of troubles for Longmire. The High Plains Dinosaur Museum seems to have uncovered a treasure, until Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne who owns the land where Jen was discovered, is found dead, and there's no evidence of his agreement with the museum. Instead, his family, the tribe, and the Dept. of Justice all lay claim to Jen. And, the FBI is investigating illegal fossil collection and sales of state property.
Walt really has no patience with the acting deputy U.S. attorney who craves publicity. He's not interested in storing dinosaur bones in his jail. Longmire has a murder to investigate, and he'd like to make some progress before his daughter, Cady, arrives from Philadelphia with his five-month-old granddaughter, Lola. But, Danny's family is uncooperative, while the media attention about Jen continues to grow, becoming a campaign to "Save Jen!"
When Deputy Vic Moretti is injured, Longmire turns to old friends Henry Standing Bear, Lucian Connally, Omar Rhoades, and, of course, Dog, to assist in a massive search in the county, as they look for answers. Sheriff Longmire needs answers to Danny Lone Elk's murder, answers that, hopefully, might help to "Save Jen".
As always, Johnson's writing is beautiful, descriptive of the Wyoming setting. The tone is wry, witty at times, but Longmire always takes his job seriously. The humor covers up the serious aspects of Longmire's job; the danger, the threats, the ghosts that are always there. There's a wonderful conversation between Walt and his dispatcher, Ruby, in which he says, "It just seems like I made this deal with the universe to serve and protect, and in return, little by little, I get everything I care about taken away from me."
Mystery readers have intriguing stories, powerful and mystical novels in the Longmire series. At the same time, these are books that should attract readers of westerns who appreciate the Wyoming setting, the Wyoming tribes, and the hero who stands tall against evil.
I'm never disappointed when I eagerly pick up the latest Longmire mystery. I read them for the suspense, the humor, the history, the ghosts and spirituality. Most of all, I read them for the thoughtfully-developed, wonderful characters, beginning with Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear. Dry Bones is another remarkable mystery in a string of strong, superb books by a master who continues to out-do himself. Craig Johnson doesn't rest on his laurels. As he would write, "Boy howdy!" Dry Bones is terrific.
I'm also giving away a copy of Craig Johnson's previous book, Any Other Name, now available in paperback. Walt is supposed to be heading to Philadelphia where Cady is about to give birth. Instead, he teams up with his old boss, Lucian Connally, to look in to the death of a sheriff in a nearby county. If you'd like to win this book, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read "Win Any Other Name." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 14 at 6 PM CT.
Craig Johnson's website is www.craigallenjohnson.com.
Dry Bones by Craig Johnson. Viking. 2015. ISBN 9780525426936 (hardcover), 306p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, knowing I would review it.