Saturday, August 09, 2008
Pick of the Month -- The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (first in a series)
Protagonist: Sheriff Walt Longmire
Setting: Absaroka County, Wyoming
The crimes reported in Absaroka County are not the usual: a kid chasing horses with his snow machine (turns out he was herding livestock with it), someone sliding off an icy road and hitting a yield sign; and someone stealing Old Lady Grossman’s snowman (a practical joke by her nephew). So when someone reports a dead body, Sheriff Longmire figures it’s probably dead sheep. But the body is that of Cody Pritchard’s, one of four young men who two years earlier received a light sentence for the rape of Melissa Little Bird, a Cheyenne girl with fetal alcohol syndrome. And Longmire has what seems a crime of revenge — a dish best served cold. With his deputy, foul-mouthed Vic Moretti, and his good friend Henry Standing Bear, Longmire tries to protect the other three men while investigating the murder.
This is a book that, while recommended by several people, I had feared as maybe too cowboy-ish. Nothing of the kind. It is wise-cracking in the tradition of Robert Parker’s Spenser books but set in the high plains of Wyoming, described so beautifully that I’ve almost booked a plane ticket there. The traditions of the Northern Cheyenne and life on the reservation are also a big part of the book, adding yet another layer. Craig Johnson is definitely a fresh voice in crime fiction (his fourth book has just been published) and one I'll keep reading. For a great interview with Johnson, head on over to Mysterious Musings.