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Thursday, January 10, 2013

AS THE CROW FLIES: A Walt Longmire mystery
By Craig Johnson
Crime fiction
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0670023516
Walt Longmire has survived desperate situations before, but this could be the most dire. His daughter is getting married, and he and Henry Standing Bear have been assigned some of the preparations. When the pair witness a murder while looking for a wedding site in Montana, Longmire doesn't exactly complain about being drawn into the investigation.

The victim is a young Cheyenne woman. She was shielding her baby when she went over a cliff. The child improbably survives with only a few bruises, and the father is the presumed suspect. But in the entangled family relationships, long-held grudges and dealings with drugs, government bureaucracy and war wounds, easy presumptions may well not be enough.

Longmire also comes up against the young tribal chief of police, an Iraq war vet named Lolo. Her attempts to run down every miscreant have her placing Longmire under arrest in their initial meeting.

The revealing of Lolo's character, which shows more depth than small-town, hot-headed rookie cop, is one of the highlights of the novel. So are the appearances of Longmire's daughter, Cady, and her mother-in-law to be, and, of course, the Cheyenne Nation. For those who still haven't warmed up to Vic, she doesn't play a significant role. A certain FBI agent also shows up, for better or for worse.

Johnson also is master of pacing. As with all Longmire novels, they are fast reads but contain a fully realized plot with characters to wonder and care about.

But as with all other Longmire novels, there are parts that still don't feel right. There is the obligatory woo-woo. This time, a milky-eyed older Cheyenne medicine woman invites Longmire to a peyote ceremony. The disbelief has a hard time staying suspended for that, since there are opposing philosophies about allowing whites into these ceremonies. Johnson does a good job showing awareness of what modern life is like on reservations with his characters, what they go through, what they face and how they respond to myriad obstacles. He doesn't have to go the route of Native American mysticism through a white man's perspective for a solid series with a grand cast of continuing characters.

This is especially true when the plot itself is so solid and the action-filled resolution is high adventure without being too much to believe.

©2013 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission

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