“The Western Star” by Craig Johnson. (Walt Longmire #13)

*Read between 7th October and 11th October 2018

Sheriff Walt Longmire is enjoying a celebratory beer after a weapons certification at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy when a younger sheriff confronts him with a photograph of twenty-five armed men standing in front of a Challenger steam locomotive. It takes him back to when fresh from the battlefields of Vietnam, then-deputy Walt accompanied his mentor Lucian to the annual Wyoming Sheriff’s Association junket held on the excursion train known as the Western Star, which ran the length of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back. Armed with his trusty Colt .45 and a paperback of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, the young Walt was ill-prepared for the machinations of twenty-four veteran sheriffs, let alone the cavalcade of curious characters that accompanied them. 

The photograph – along with an upcoming parole hearing for one of the most dangerous men Walt has encountered in a lifetime of law enforcement – hurtles the sheriff into a head-on collision of past and present, placing him and everyone he cares about squarely on the tracks of runaway revenge.

If you have cast your eyes over any of my earlier short reviews of the Longmire books, then you will know by now that I love them. I have previously stated that others were, at the time of my reading them, my favourites in the series.

But, I hadn’t read this one when I nominated those earlier novels. “The Western Star” is an absolute belter and Craig Johnson knocks it out of the park with this tale.

This is a pulsating and gripping read. The author has set his thirteenth Longmire story firmly in the present but he has cleverly woven in an episode from Walt’s past that has played a hugely significant role in shaping him into the man, and the sheriff, that he is today.

The plot is wickedly enthralling and entertaining. Mr Johnson has proved himself to be masterly in misguiding and wrong-footing the reader as both investigations, past and present, play out. And, that shadow and threat which is currently growing around Longmire have their roots within the pages of this book.

Longmire now has a very direct and personal challenge to address and “The Western Star” leads directly into the latest in the series, 2018’s  “Depth of Winter”.

Mr Johnson has penned both a classic Longmire tale and an excellent nod to the “closed room” style mysteries of classic crime. This was a total delight to read, a real page turner at every level.

Longmire is a wonderful hero who leaps, nor only between train carriages, but right off the page and into our hearts. Well, he has leapt firmly into mine.

And that final line! For our Sheriff, it is now personal. Roll on “Depth of Winter”.

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