08 nov book rev land of wolves

The books in the Sheriff Walt Longmire series keep getting better and better. Several of his early adventures were turned into TV crime dramas on A&E and Netflix. The final episodes of a six-season run were released last year.

The newest of the books by Craig Johnson, Land of Wolves (Viking, 320 pages, $28), revolves around the intertwined lives of an old wolf who has left the safety of Yellowstone National Park, a Basque sheep rancher and his family, a Cree woman who investigates unfair labor practices, an IT man from Colorado, an absent shaman, and of course, the staff of the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Longmire has recently returned from an especially violent adventure in Mexico, where he was wounded — both physically and psychologically. A painful stitch in his side and periods of mental blackouts make his investigations of killings on a sheep ranch more difficult than usual.

The plot never wavers in spite of many turns. The characters’ conversations — especially undersheriff Vic Moretti’s — are always amusing. The arcane facts that Longmire pulls from his memory are edifying. For instance, lycanthropy is the ability of a human to become a wolf. There is plenty of philosophy mixed in, about fishing, public service, family dynamics, and a human’s relationships with wild animals.

Longmire, as usual, solves a mystery and justice is done. It is unclear until the very last pages how he will do it, which makes the book a very good read.

At the story’s end, the sheriff is ready for a trip, perhaps to Hyder, Alaska, or maybe to Hatch, New Mexico. We can hope he will be coming to Hatch, along with a film crew, for a new novel and a resurrection of his Netflix series. 

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