Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015: The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire, #1) – Craig Johnson

Oddly the first book I finished of 2015 was not in fact theology or high fiction, but the first in the Longmire series. It was surprisingly well written. I mean that in the sense of having never been a fan of crime books/movies before. Walt Longmire is a great protagonist. Standing Bear is a great number two, as is Vic. Johnson did his job by surprising me with the murderer (I told you it was a crime book!). Although I had seen the first episode and remembered specifically it was not two people that they wanted you to believe, I could not remember exactly who it was.

What The Cold Dish does well is set the scene for the series. But it could have stood alone without much trouble. The history adds up. These are real people. There are real expectations for them. I think I appreciated a lot of the banter and development strictly because I am from a small town. I know what it’s like to know everyone and have an inkling of who could pull off something like a 500-yard shot down to 10 people. In that regard I really enjoyed the book.

Johnson did however make me wonder about the Native Americans in the book. I do not know many Native Americans. I don’t know that this captures them well in their speech patterns and stoicism. I don’t know that it does a good job of capturing their mysticism. But it certainly makes for fascinating story.

I found myself already recommending this book to a couple of people and that was even before I finished it. I think the way that Johnson writes is the perfect combination of descriptive, narrative, action and pause. I didn’t feel rushed to read it, but I enjoyed reading it. As the book carried on, I wanted less and less distraction to finish it. In that way it is a great story. You want to know.

In one crucial scene, even though I knew the end (because I had seen the TV show) I knew how it would turn out, but I still felt the tension that Johnson intended. That is good writing. To know, “Hey this is how that turns out” and to still wonder “Maybe they changed it from the book…because this HAS TO HAPPEN,” is a pretty remarkable feeling.

Overall I could see myself picking up the entire series. It is that well done. I think the exploration of Henry’s four-prong plan – Fix your house, fix your body, get you a woman and find you some spirituality will probably remain a focus through the series. The spirituality is already the interesting portion to me in terms of the Spirits that are already guiding Walt.

Not a bad start to the year.

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