Eric Boss reviews LAND OF WOLVES

I, for one, am glad that Walt Longmire is back. I was really worried about him in the last book when he was in Mexico battling nearly unaided except for a select group of new allies. He took a helluva beating and it’s not just me (and a few hundred thousand other Craig Johnson fans) who’s concerned. All the crew in Absaroka County are fretting about his disinclination to take it easy or let anything slide. If he did, though, he wouldn’t be Walt Longmire. So, while we’re ostensibly relieved, anxiety lurks in the margins and we hope he doesn’t do himself a permanent or even fatal injury. An office pool taking odds on which one will allow him to do something harmful to himself has arisen and everyone’s trying to avoid being the one who loses. So, they’re treating him like “a Faberge egg” in Walt’s words. It doesn’t matter. He is who he is, and that won’t change.

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson

With trademark wry humor, astonishing literary, historical and scientific asides and his native talent for intricate plotting and dialogue, the author has provided us with another stretch of happy reading hours while we watch our hero continue to sacrifice his well-being for the good of others. We even learn a few new things, as we always do, about Walt, Henry, Vic, Sancho, Ruby and Cady. Johnson’s characters grow with each book to become more and more a part of our lives, like relatives or friends do.

This time, a Chilean shepherd is found murdered under bizarre and confusing circumstances that involve (possibly) a literal lone wolf who is spotted moving in and out of the action in a mysterious way. Is he Virgil White Buffalo returning from the shade to lend support to the limping sheriff who is not yet fully recovered from his last calamity, or is he just a solitary refugee from the Yellowstone pack? A Basque sheep rancher whose family history is personal to Walt, his daughter, son-in-law and grandson are wound into the knot that must be unbound to discover who murdered the sheepherder and why. As always, the Wyoming landscape is a backdrop to and participant in what goes on as the story unfolds.

Walt may be recovering from his harrowing experience with his archnemesis Tomas Bidarte, but he finds ways to put himself in peril right at home. His steadfast resolution and commitment to justice are there just as strongly as always, one of the reasons we all love him. It’s great to have him home, we just wish he would take better care of himself. If he did, though, the story wouldn’t be half as good. Don’t miss this one.

Shelf Talker: After nearly getting killed in Mexico, Walt Longmire is back in Absaroka County, this time sleuthing out the killer of a sheepherder found hanging and partially gnawed by (maybe) a literal lone wolf, perhaps a refugee from those reintroduced to Yellowstone. All the familiar crew are here, in spades, to the great pleasure of veteran readers of Johnson’s accounts of the Wyoming sheriff.