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THE LONGMIRE DEFENSE by Craig Johnson: Book Review

Every Walt Longmire novel is a joy to read, and Craig Johnson’s latest, the 19th in the series, is simply perfect.

The long-time sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, is still continuing to think about retirement.  Readers don’t know how old Walt is, but since he served as a marine in the Vietnam conflict, he has to be seventy at the very least, doesn’t he?

In The Longmire Defense, it’s Walt’s incredible determination to find the truth about a long-ago event that brings him closer to death than ever before when he’s faced with the possibility that his deceased grandfather might have been a murderer.

The story begins three-quarters of a century ago when a group of Wyoming investors buy a bank after its failure.  The members of the bank’s board of directors, including Lloyd Longmire, are on a hunting trip when one of its members, Big Bill Sutherland, is accidentally shot to death.  Or so it’s believed at the time.

However, days later another member of the hunting party dies, and a year after that a third member disappears while on a fishing trip, never to be seen again.  Now Walt discovers that these three men plus his grandfather were involved in the handling of a Wyoming monetary fund that is the precursor of the Mineral Trust Fund; its value today is over eight billion dollars.

But it appears that various interested parties don’t want Walt’s inquiry to proceed, even so many decades later.  Lucian Connally, Absaroka County’s former sheriff, is hinting, not so subtly, to leave the case alone, and a man named Mike Regis has been sent from Cheyenne to help Walt “put the fire out,” as he refers to the sheriff’s investigation into the financial dealings of the state.

Then, while he’s out aiding a woman on a mountain road, Walt discovers an abandoned rifle, a .300 H & H Magnum, identical to the one that killed Sutherland years earlier.  It matches the gun in a photo that appears to have been taken the day Big Bill Sutherland was killed, and the weapon is being held by Luke Longmire.

Other things start happening.  A man Walt has asked to do some investigating about Sutherland is critically shot; a very high tech drone, military-style, is flying over the county; a man on a motorcycle is wandering around Walt’s daughter’s house in the middle of the night; and the rear window of Walt’s car is shot out.

Some personal things are going awry as well.  Walt is facing a possible challenge in the next election by one of his deputies, Santiago Saizarbitoria, a hero of the local Basque community.  And Victoria Morelli, another deputy and Walt’s long-time love interest, is missing.

As always, Craig Johnson has written a mystery that brings the reader directly into the heart of Absaroka County and the lives of those who live there.  Once again, meeting the members of the sheriff’s department as well as Walt’s daughter Cady is like catching up with people you’ve known for years, and the author’s gift for dialogue makes you feel that you are listening to actual conversations.

You can read more about Craig Johnson at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.






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