Book Review: Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson

Posted October 7, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire #15
Genres: Mystery
Published by Viking on September 17, 2019
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also in this series: A Serpent's Tooth, The Percentages"

Also by this author: Spirit of Steamboat, A Serpent's Tooth, Any Other Name, The Highwayman, "Eleven/Twenty-Nine", An Obvious Fact, The Western Star, Depth of Winter, The Cold Dish, Death Without Company , Kindness Goes Unpunished , Another Man's Moccasins, "Land of the Blind", The Percentages"

Fifteenth in the Walt Longmire series and revolving around the laconic county sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

My Take

That opening paragraph is pure poetry…only to be brought back to reality by Vic’s comment, lol. It’s a segue that sets us up for Walt’s personal conflict throughout the story. And using first person protagonist point-of-view from Walt’s perspective makes it very easy for us to follow that conflict.

That Vic has got more cussed things to call the Forest Service and Wildlife guys… I gotta wonder if she’ll branch off onto the forensics people. They can get a DNA result from Wildlife over night, but it takes six months to get it from the Division of Criminal Investigation…

Crack me up: “Internet for old people”. Hey, I remember those, and they were darned handy. Never had to be rebooted. More laughter comes from that small group of VIPs at Henry’s. I gotta wonder if they’re this clueless when they’re sober…? Oh, y’all are gonna LYAO when you read of Walt’s interaction with Rupert!

Oh, lord, then there’re the interactions with governments, lmao. Too, too typical. I wonder if they ever hear themselves talk? Oh, man, oh, man, LOL, I did enjoy the strategy of that town meeting…hmmm, I wonder if it would work for other meetings??

Johnson seems to have let up on the metaphysical interactions, although Virgil is still making his plays.

There’s a quick peek in at the why of the historical differences of cattlemen and sheepmen. I hadn’t heard of the bigotry end before. More bits of history include the plots for Buffalo Bill’s body and a fraternal order of cowboys.

“The only thing more difficult is to return from madness, because we are never again sure that we are truly sane.”

Fortunately, we segue into something more humorous with:

“Fishing—precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.”

Ooh, it may be a not-so-minor conflict between Ruby and Walt over Walt refusing to use that danged computer! It is time that Walt got over his technophobia, but it does add a tension to the tale. And makes me wanna hit Walt upside the head ’cause I agree with Ruby (and Cady). Walt is being selfish.

It is sad when a man spends his life building an empire, but no one wants it. There is an interesting tidbit about how the fourth estate came to be, and it certainly makes sense. Too bad they don’t deserve it any more. Not that the other three deserve it any more either…

I do wish Johnson had used a horizontal rule of some kind to indicate this flashback Walt has. Hey, I’m not saying I didn’t appreciate it, as it did pull me into the current-day scene more deeply, but hey, I got confused for a few paragraphs. It does include a sweet bit about thieves that I suspect played a part in shaping Walt’s attitudes.

It’s a slow-moving story with plenty of blips — some action, but mostly character-driven — with red herrings galore…it feels like a lazy stream, meandering across a meadow, as Walt assesses his life as it stands right now. As for that reference to Mickey Southern and his real identity? I dunno. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s a metaphor.

It all boils down to what Walt is afraid of. And he pisses me off. Stubborn old coot.

The Story

A shepherd winds up dead in mysterious circumstances. Abe’s grandson is a silent mystery. A lone wolf, driven from his pack, is riling up the public.

And Walt is riling up everyone else with his stubbornness.

The Characters

Sheriff Walt Longmire has been in charge in Durant for years and is currently supposed to be recovering from deep-tissue, solid-organ damage incurred in Depth of Winter, 14. Cady, the Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time, is his widowed daughter with her own child, Lola. Cady now works for the district attorney in Cheyenne. Henry Standing Bear, a.k.a., the Cheyenne Nation, is Walt’s best friend and owns the Red Pony Bar & Grill. Dog was inherited from the last sheriff, Lucian Connally.

77M, a.k.a., Larry, is a old wolf who was chipped, a Lupus irremotus and not an occidentalis, who appears to have been run out of his pack in Yellowstone. Keasik Cheechoo is an activist nurse at St Patrick’s in Missoula and a volunteer for WC. (She’s also Cree-Assiniboine/Young Dogs, Piapot First Nation, and she makes a good point about people making background assumptions.) Gansu is her dog.

Abarrane “Abe” Extepare is Basque and runs a huge sheep ranch. Wilhelmina “Wil”, Abe’s wife, has dementia with an interest in cribbage. Donnie Lott, an IT guy for a bank, is married to Abe’s daughter, Jeannie, and they have a five-year-old son, Liam. Mrs Reynolds is Abe and Wil’s hired woman. Abe’s father, Beltran, had, supposedly, shot off then-Sheriff Lucian Connelly’s leg. Jakes was Beltran’s younger brother.

Miguel Hernandez, a Chilean dissident with a wife and two kids, is one of the Extepare sheepherders as is Jacques Arriett. Jiminez is the camp tender.

Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Sheriff Vic Moretti is being patient with her man, as he’s still recovering from events in Depth of Winter. Santiago “Sancho” Saizarbitoria is another deputy, a Basque who can speak the lingo; Maria is Sancho’s wife, and they have a toddler son. Ruby is the weekday dispatcher and department secretary. “Double Tough” Aliff/Vandyke was hired as a deputy in Death Without Company, 2, and is currently based in Powder Junction.

Verne Selby is the local judge. Dorothy Caldwell runs the Busy Bee CafĂ© where Walt eats a lot of meals. Jerry Aranzadi is the bartender at the Euskadi. Omar Rhoades is very wealthy. Libby Troon owns Liberty Bail Bonds in Cheyenne. Ernie Brown is the editor of the Durant Courant, and he’s hired a newbie reporter, Nate Laski, one of that new breed of journalist. Jaya Long, a.k.a., LongShot, is a basketball power forward and cousin to Chief of Police Lolo Long with the Cheyenne Reservation PD. Dennis and Ben Kervin are a father-and-son lawyer team. Jennifer McCormick is the county assessor. Ronnie works at the deli.

Clay Miller is the head ramrod at Paradise Guest Ranch. Tom Groneberg is the manager of those cabins privately leased through the Forest Service. Bobby is a clerk at a local Best Western. Lee Harris is one of the idiots at the wolf meeting. His wife, Sarah, is pretty mad. Dave and Sally Anders would make good foster parents. Jack Kling likes to run license plates. Ms Schlesier is neighbor to an empty house.

JJ’s wife doesn’t drink, and she will be coming down to the bar. Jon Rupert does a conspiracy show, the Rupert Report. Mickey Southern has a show as well: Mickey Southern—Pervert Hunter.

Scott Kirkman is the highway patrolman assigned to Absaroka County. Chuck Coon (with the National Forest Service) is concerned with a predator zone, i.e., where predators, like wolves, can be shot on sight. And he’s retiring. Jim Towles is with Predator Control. Ferris Kaplan is with Game and Fish. Don Butler is the Absaroka County Brand Inspector. Joe Meyer is the Wyoming state attorney general. Mike Burgess is the new head of Search-and-Rescue, now that Colin Ferriman retired.

Agent Steve Phelps is with Immigration and Customs Enforcement AND Enforcement and Removal Operations. He’s looking for Alfredo Rafael Anaya, a terrorist wanted in Columbia.

Drs Isaac Bloomfield and David Nickerson, Isacc’s protégé, are the doctors who work Walt over on a regular basis.

We first met Virgil White Buffalo, a shaman, in Another Man’s Moccasins, 4,

The Colorado Labor Department noted Hernandez’s case against a Colorado rancher. Transhumance is an old world method of herding groups of animals to different pastures. A Longmire is an unofficial self-release from the hospital.

Tomás Bidarte, the cowboy poet lariat from A Serpent’s Tooth, 9, was a bad man, right through Depth of Winter.

The Cover and Title

The cover is stark with a black-and-white photograph with Walt’s be-hatted silhouette, his sleeves rolled up, and a rifle in hand, on the ridge nearest us, mountains in the far distance. The horizon almost splits the cover in half with the author’s name at the top in white. An info blurb in black, red, and white is to the right of Walt and a black badge proclaiming the Netflix series information is on the left. The title begins at Walt’s knees…in red.

The title is a metaphor for the world, a Land of Wolves, that requires aid in holding the wolves at bay.

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