“As The Crow Flies” by Craig Johnson. (Walt Longmire #08)

*Read between 3rd and 11th September 2018

Our sheriff, and the hero of Craig Johnson’s excellent series, returns for his eighth adventure in “As The Crow Flies”. And what a fine addition to the canon it proves to be.

It is just a few short weeks until the wedding of his daughter, Cady, to the brother of his under-sheriff, Victoria Moretti, and Sheriff Walt Longmire and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, are tasked with organising the forthcoming nuptials. What could go possibly go wrong for our dynamic duo?

 

While scouting on the Cheyenne Reservation for the perfect site to hold the ceremony, Longmire and Henry witness as a young Crow woman falls to her death from the heights of the Painted Warrior cliff. Far from his own jurisdiction, Longmire gives help and guidance to the new appointed and inexperienced tribal police chief, LoLo Long. Longmire has to use all his experience to solve the mystery, mentor the new chief and ensure he has time to plan the perfect wedding for Cady.

This is yet another great read and is packed with all the delights we have come to expect – demand, even – from the author, Mr Johnson. He writes his characters so well and they arrive fully formed and vivid in your mind as you meet them on the page for the first time. LoLo Long is a terrific addition to the growing cast list that lives in the author’s delightful part of Wyoming. She is spikey and quick to rile and, as the tale progresses, you learn why she is that way and you watch as she develops and grows under Longmire’s tutelage. As a reader, I find it a pleasure to be in the company of characters that evolve in such a way; as they change and adapt to their environment and the characters that populate their pages, we can invest more of ourselves into them and, in doing so, we gain more out of the journey we take with them. It’s a win, win.

The dry wit, humour and affection between Longmire and Henry Standing Bear, and which we have come to love so much in the previous books, is peppered throughout this book. Their discussions and quips to each other are perfectly phrased, helping to both propel the narrative and pace of the plot while simultaneously reinforcing their long-standing friendship, respect and affection for each other. Mr Johnson has a real talent for expressing the unique bond that can exist between two men; he never oversells their relationship, instead, he pitches it just right.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip into Walt Longmire’s world. Yet, as good and enjoyable as it was, I have to confess that the nature of the plot and the crime being investigated lacked the pace and “edge” that was seen in “Hell Is Empty”. It is probably very unfair of me to compare the two novels in this way. “Hell Is Empty” was a tense and thrilling manhunt into the mountains with the elements providing a cinematic and brutal backdrop whilst “As The Crow Flies” is, despite the horrific manner of the young woman’s death and the investigation that follows, more of a meandering and calmer journey. Both books are terrifically well written and superbly plotted but, for me, “As The Crow Flies” lacked a little of the vibrancy and power are shown in “Hell Is Empty”. 

My slight sense of disappointment is most probably my own fault. Since the beginning of August, I have read nothing other than the Longmire novels; I’ve simply gone from one Longmire adventure straight onto the next. Maybe I was expecting the tension and the sense of ever-present danger in “Hell Is Empty” to carry on into this subsequent novel?

But, that ability to change things around and keep us on our toes is one of the reasons we enjoy Mr Johnson’s stories so much. With each tale to date, the author has taken a slightly different route with his storytelling. His novels are fresh and do not become stale; he mixes it up and keeps us engaged.

I am having a blast spending time in Absaroka County and am enjoying catching up with the Longmire series. However, as I am about to make a start on book nine, I am beginning to become anxious about what I will do once I have caught up with the series. What will I do when I find myself with the very latest tale, “Depth of Winter” in my hands and know that there will be nothing left to follow it for at least another year?

Do I continue forging ahead and devouring each tale? Or, do I pace myself and make the magic last?

I have a dilemma.

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