Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson: A review

The last book I read was Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere. Then I opened this book and read the first sentence: "They used fire, back in the day." I had to chuckle. What a segue! Perhaps I had been fated to read this book next.

That first sentence is spoken by a gravedigger, attempting to dig a hole in the middle of a Wyoming winter. He's referring to the practice of building a huge bonfire on top of the spot where a grave was to be dug in hopes of thawing out the ground enough to dig.

The gravedigger has a lot of miscellany about the disposal of earthly remains that he happily shares with Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County as he digs and Walt stands by watching and freezing. In fact, it is a constant irritating stream of information, until finally, Walt can stand it no longer.
"Jules?" 
"Yep?"
I turned and looked down at him. "Do you ever shut up?" 
He tipped his battered cowboy hat back on his head and took the final swig, still smiling. "Nope."
Like Jules, all the characters in Craig Johnson's books are never at a loss for words. Not for them the strong, silent Westerner stereotype. And the dialogues between these characters are a pure delight to read, often laugh-out-loud funny. 

This is the second book in the series. I read the first only a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to continue with the next one. I think I may be falling in love with Craig Johnson/Walt Longmire.

The action in this book is only a few weeks after the ending of the first one. (The grave that Jules is trying to dig is for one of the leftover bodies of that book.) The case begins with the death of an elderly woman at the Durant Home for Assisted Living. The death appears to be from natural causes, but the former sheriff of Absaroka County who is a resident at the home insists that it is murder and Walt decides to take a closer look.

An autopsy reveals that the old sheriff was right; the woman was poisoned.

The victim's name was Mari Baroja and she was Basque. Looking into her history in search of a possible motive for her killing gives Walt a view into Basque customs. He also learns of an appalling history of domestic abuse which the woman endured from her violent husband. But in the early 1950s, while the former sheriff now in the assisted living home was in office, that husband disappeared, leaving Mari with three children to raise.

And raise them she did, although the oldest, her son, was killed in Vietnam. Her twin daughters and the son's daughter survive her. Now, Walt finds that Mari's land has a methane drilling operation on it and the old woman in the Durant home was, in fact, a multi-millionaire. Reason enough perhaps for her descendants to wish to hasten her demise.

Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that, and soon the number of dead bodies is mounting and Mari's granddaughter is the victim of a vicious attack. 

Never mind, Walt will sort it all out with the help of his friend Henry Standing Bear, his foul-mouthed deputy Vic Moretti, his brand new deputy Santiago Saizarbitoria, and assorted other friends and helpers. 

One thing is for sure: Walt Longmire will never be "without company."

My rating: 4 of 5 stars      

5 comments:

  1. I think I'm falling under the spell of Craig Johnson/Walt Longmire and your reviews of their cases. If only I didn't have that toppling TBR waiting...And that quote was priceless! ;-)

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    1. The books really are a delight to read - at least I find them so. Perhaps when your TBR tower is somewhat reduced in size...

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    2. At my current reading speed, I probably have books to last me my lifetime. Seriously. ;-)

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  2. Happy for you that you are on the Craig Johnson bandwagon. Husband is reading his latest one now. He is so loved in Los Angeles that the book was on the request list at the library for weeks!
    Happy Thanksgiving Dorothy!

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    1. I have a long way to go and a lot of good reading before I get to the latest one. I expect my affair with him will be hot and heavy by then!

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