Saturday, May 21, 2016
The Highwayman by Craig Johnson
Rosey Wayman left Longmire's area to take an assignment with the Highway Patrol division in the Wind River Canyon area of Wyoming. But, Rosey needs help. At 12:34 a.m., she receives a radio transmission that only she hears. It calls her unit number, 3, and says 10-78, which means officer needs assistance. And, she swears it's the voice of Bobby Womack, the first Arapaho trooper, who died in a fiery accident over thirty years earlier. Despite his own experiences with the unexplained, Walt is skeptical. But, Henry knows the Shoshone and Arapaho stories of "the Highwayman", a figure who wears a coat with the name Womack on it, a figure who helps stranded motorists. He doesn't know the story of the stolen 1888-O Hot Lips Morgan silver dollars, the story that destroyed Bobby Womack's reputation. Rosey has a story about those silver dollars, and, before it's over, Walt has a story or two about them as well.
I can't say more without ruining an excellent ghost story. Instead, I'll mention again how skilled Craig Johnson is as a storyteller. His descriptions of the Wind River Canyon, the tunnels that cut through it, take the reader to the treacherous terrain. And, he carefully puts the stories of the Shoshone, the Arapaho, and the Cheyenne in the words of Henry Standing Bear, a man with dignity, dry humor, an insightful knowledge, and strength. The friendship between Walt and Henry says a great deal about both men.
The Highwayman is the latest offering to readers. It's respectful of the characters, the land, and the legends of the region. It reflects the love Craig Johnson has for the characters he's created, and the land and people in Wyoming. As always, he shows a respect for the men and women who serve the people.
Walt, as an investigator, has to have answers. And, he does get some answers, but Johnson never completely lets Longmire off the hook. The Highwayman is another haunting, unexplained, novella from a gifted storyteller.
Craig Johnson's website is www.craigallenjohnson.com
The Highwayman by Craig Johnson. Viking. 2016. ISBN 9780735220898 (hardcover), 190p.
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