Monday, October 12, 2020

Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson

First Line: Years ago, on one particularly beautiful, high plains afternoon when I was a deputy with the Absaroka County Sheriff's Department, I propped my young daughter, Cady, on my hip and introduced her to Charley Lee Stillwater.

Sheriff Walt Longmire has had a rough time of it lately, and he's still recuperating from his experiences. Maybe that's why he finds himself visiting the Wyoming Home for Soldiers and Sailors and talking to the wheelchair posse of old veterans who sit and wave at traffic everyday. He even finds himself wondering how he'd decorate his own wheelchair when the time comes. 

Charley Lee Stillwater was a resident of the home and a character that Walt made sure to introduce Cady to when his daughter was small enough to carry around on his hip. When Charley dies of an apparent heart attack, the Absaroka County sheriff is called in to try to make sense of items found in the old man's room: a piece of a painting and a shoebox containing a million dollars. Will a good old-fashioned art heist be what Longmire needs to perk up and get back to normal?

~

This particular review is written by someone who's been a card-carrying Walt Longmire/Craig Johnson fan since the very first book, The Cold Dish. As crazy as I am about this series, even I will admit that, while they're all good, some books are stronger than others. When I began reading Next to Last Stand, I grew a little impatient, even a little worried. Vic spent most of her time whining about being bored and being a pain in the rear end. On the other hand, Walt kept having episodes where his mind would wander off to parts unknown and he'd stare off into space for long periods. Granted, my reaction to Vic comes from personal experience. I remember being bored only once in my life, and I tend to roll my eyes when anyone says that they are. Walt is another story. I'll let Vic ride shotgun with me any day, but I love Walt. I want him to be recovered from his experiences in the last two books. I want my Walt back! (Now look who's whining...)

The good news is that, once this investigation picks up speed, Vic and Walt are both back to the normal that all fans know and love. Yippee!

I happen to enjoy a good art heist, and that's what readers will find in Next to Last Stand. The even better news is that there's more to love in the book than finding a stolen painting and the identity of the thieves. There's the look into the cutthroat art world. There are the Wavers at the Wyoming Home for Soldiers and Sailors, characters all. There's the African proverb which states "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground." (Could we change "man" to "person," please?) There's a topnotch chase scene. There's the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places. And best of all-- whether showing us how to persuade a nude prisoner to don his clothes or helping a new employee learn the ropes, there's humor, there's intelligence, there's Walt. He's my kind of guy. It's good to have him back.


Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson

ISBN: 9780525522539

Viking © 2020

Hardcover, 336 pages

 

Police Procedural, #16 Walt Longmire mystery

Rating: A

Source: Purchased from The Poisoned Pen.

18 comments:

  1. If you ask me, Cathy, it's hard to go wrong with a Craig Johnson Walt Longmire story. I'm not saying they've all been stellar, but still... It sounds as though this one is a good 'un, too, and it's great to see Walt 'coming back,' so to speak. All that and an art heist, too - no wonder you liked it so well.

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  2. I have got to read this series! My husband and I watched the Longmire series on AMC (I think it was), later picked up by Netflix. At the time I didn't realize it was based on a book series. However, it was one of our favorite tv series. My mom also loved it and has watched it all the way through twice.
    The only problem I anticipate in having watched the series is that I will picture the characters as the actors. Books are always more detailed which will be a good thing.

    Great review Cathy!

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    1. Craig Johnson tells a funny story about telling a cashier in Wyoming that, yes, "there are books too." So you're in good company :)

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    2. Thanks, Gretchen! I don't think there will be all that much problem with envisioning the actors as the characters in the books-- especially since several of the TV characters don't exist in the books. That leads to another bonus. I've read books which have been subsequently televised, and a lot of the enjoyment was missing because the plots for the TV series were taken directly from the books. Not so with "Longmire" and Craig Johnson's books. That means you can enjoy both. :-)

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  3. Wow, we reviewed this one on the same day...and liked it for a lot of the same reasons, plus a few different ones. I expressed a bit of nervousness that Johnson may be sending us a hint about something we won't want to see happen...hope I'm wrong.

    Loved your review...spot on.

    For some reason, I still have five of the novels smack in the middle of the series that I haven't read even though I have at least a couple of them on my shelf...books 9-13.

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    1. I just moseyed over to your review. I think you are wrong, by the way. ;-)

      Once I found The Cold Dish, I've bulldozed my way through all the rest... in order of course! LOL

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    2. I think you are right. :-)

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  4. I'm glad to hear that Walt is back, in your sense of the phrase. I'm somewhat patiently waiting for my turn to come at the library, and am pleased by the reassurance about the content. I hope you're following it with another good book ...

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    1. I am, Kate. In fact, I'm still in Wyoming with Margaret Coel's Wind River mystery series.

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  5. I haven't read the series, but this review interests me. Willsee if the library has it. Who can't be enticed by elderly veterans and a mystery?

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    1. Never discount the elderly. Marginalize them at your peril!

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  6. Replies
    1. I think it refers to Custer's Last Stand and the painting using it as the subject more than anything else.

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