“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson. (Walt Longmire #02)

*Read between 12th – 15th August 2018

The mountains are reaching upwards to support clouds that are heavy with a fresh deposit of snow. The air is as sweet and sharp as the rim of the glass your tequila sits in and your faithful Carhartt is buttoned to the neck as it wards off the chill that has settled into the night.

Yes, folks, once again, I’m back in Wyoming.

Fresh from finishing “The Cold Dish”, I find myself immediately back in  Absaroka County. I am thoroughly enjoying spending time with my new friend Sheriff Walt Longmire and Vic, The Bear and Ruby over a plate of “the usual” at The Busy Bee Cafe. And, as was proved by Craig Johnson’s first novel, it is a fine thing indeed to be among their company.

In “Death Without Company”, the second book in the Walt Longmire series, Christmas is fast approaching. Mari Borja, an elderly woman, has died at the Durant Home for Assisted Living. At first glance, the death is not suspicious but Lucian, the previous sheriff and Longmire’s former boss, is convinced that Mari did not die of natural causes. He urges Longmire to treat her death as murder.

As he investigates, Longmire quickly finds himself drawn into a series of events that have their roots in Mari’s past and in acts that took place fifty years earlier. Walt soon discovers that, even in his small town, there are secrets and terrible deeds that have been long buried and hidden. Secrets that Mari’s murder and the attacks which follow it are now bringing into the light.

Originally published in 2006, this story takes place just a few months after the events of book one. Longmire is still processing the repercussions that arose from the earlier case and, consequently, we initially find him contemplative and feeling isolated. As the tale progresses, we learn a little more about Longmire’s past and also that of his colleagues. We also meet a few new characters, each of whom shows much promise and, I hope, they are able to stick around for a good while yet.

This is another fine story from Mr Johnson. You are carried along in the fast-moving tale like a flake of snow in a storm that is descending from the mountains; the twists in the plot whip at you, the camaraderie and affection among the characters raise you to the heights only for you to then be spun around and torn by the dangers your new heroes face. It is one heck of a ride and it is a terrific read.

As with his debut, the author continues to capture the majesty of the landscape and he brings it vividly to life. The harsh winds seem to almost blow off the page and the cold chills you as the temperature continues to drop. And, once again, the beauty of his words kick hard like a horse.

There is violence and death in these novels. There is also pain and sorrow. But, overriding those terrible things, these books contain so much joy and delight as well. The way the characters interact and play off one another is marvellous and you really feel their passion and friendship for each other.

More than that though, you get a real sense of the author’s own love for his location and his faith in the people he has crafted. This comes through in each line you read and, consequently, you feel it too.

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