“Kindness Goes Unpunished” by Craig Johnson. (Walt Longmire #03)

*Read between 15th – 19th August 2018

This book, originally published in 2007, is our third visit to see Sheriff Walt Longmire. This time, however, our gutsy hero and we are in unfamiliar surroundings.

Longmire, Henry Standing Bear and Dog have taken a road trip to Philadelphia. Bear has travelled because he has a collection of photographs due to be displayed at a prestigious gallery. Longmire has taken the opportunity to tag along on the trip and visit his daughter, Cady. Our sheriff has only been in the city for a few hours when he learns that his daughter has been injured in an attack that leaves her fighting for her life.

Longmire discovers that Cady has become unwittingly caught up in a high-level political cover-up and he soon has to dispense his own brand of western justice as he seeks answers.

Once again, Mr Johnson has imbued this story with his trademark wit, wisdom and gripping style of writing. But, with this latest story, he has layered Longmire with the emotions, fears and hopes that every father has for their daughters. We feel the pain and grief that Longmire feels and we worry alongside him as he waits patiently beside Cady’s hospital bed.

Consequently, we care more for Longmire than we have so far in this wonderfully entertaining and enjoyable series. We are, by this time, invested in Longmire, and we root for him as he seeks out those responsible for harming his daughter. We want him to find them and to bring them to justice. But, we also fear for him as he is brought close to breaking the law as he investigates.

The author has, yet again, crafted a tale that, once picked up, you will find hard to put down. Each “just one more page” slips by as the hours slide away into dawn; every self-regulatory plea replaced by yet another broken promise as the reader’s eyes grow heavy and the clock ticks on by.

I could not tear myself away from this book and stormed through it in a little under two days, spending most of yesterday, Sunday, between its pages. Actually, I did put it down for a few hours. My daughter had invited us over for tea and, like Walt, I find it hard to refuse my daughter.

Mr Johnson breathes live into his characters. Whether they are simply there to move the plot along, or if they have a longer story arc, he gives each one a real flavour and a tender subtlety. Yet, even though this story takes place far away from Absaroka County, he brings all our favourites back into this plot; you don’t realise just how much you’ve missed Vic until you’be been parted from her foul mouth for a while.

As I mentioned earlier, with this tale, the author has slowly peeled away the layers of Walt Longmire. In doing so, he reveals, not just the father but also the heart of the man that lies beneath the sheriff’s badge.

But…and with so much effusive praise for this read, it was almost inevitable that there had to be a but, wasn’t there? I do have one gripe. However, it’s only a small one. Well, that’s not actually true. It’s a huge gripe. A massive one. A gripe the size of Wyoming.

This tale takes place in the Philadelphia. And, while I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in the City of Brotherly Love, I really missed the wide open spaces and the broad vistas of Walt’s home. I’ve never been to Wyoming – and, sadly, I suspect I never will – but, with only the first two novels, I have already come to feel at home among its small towns, high plains and changeable weather. Like Longmire himself during this adventure, I truly missed “home”. It wasn’t anything wrong the tale, it was simply that Wyoming is a key component of the novels and any story would miss such a central character.

If you have got this far into my review, you will possibly get the sense that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You’d be correct. This is the third Longmire I have read in a row and all of them in a little over a week to date. I rarely read two books by the same author, one straight after another, let alone two books from the same series. I like to have a little distance between returning to the same characters and themes; it gives me a chance to cleanse my reading palette, to refresh myself and to avoid being tired by them.

Yet, here I am, finishing book three and turning immediately to the fourth. I have the sense that I will be with Longmire and his adventures for while longer before I turn to others.

“Yes, it is so.”

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