Maybe there is time to sneak in another guilty pleasure book before the end of 2017. After all, it's not like I have a queue full of award-winning current literary books that I need to finish. Oh. Wait.
Well, anyway, I also had this third Craig Johnson book in my queue, so I might as well tick that box, right? Problem is, this one turned out to be more guilty than pleasure.
The premise is that Sheriff Walt Longmire and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, along with Dog, take a road trip in Henry's baby blue classic Thunderbird convertible. They head out to Philadelphia where Henry is to exhibit some of his historical photographs at a museum and Walt is to visit his daughter, Cady, the Philadelphia lawyer, and Dog is to, well, be a dog.
They arrive in the big city, where Walt is met at Cady's apartment by his deputy, Victoria Moretti's mother, Lena. (Vic, you see, is originally a Philadelphia girl and all of her male relatives - her father and various brothers - are in the police force there.) Before Walt even gets to see Cady, she is assaulted and suffers serious injuries that result in a subdural hematoma that leaves her in a coma and with an uncertain future.
The rest of the book is spent with Walt waiting for Cady to wake up and trying to determine the motive for the attack on her and who did it. In this endeavor, he is assisted by the Philadelphia police, particularly the Moretti boys, and, of course, Henry.
The reason for the attack and for subsequent deaths, as bodies start dropping all over the place, turns out to be quite complicated and the logic not that easy to follow. Moreover, the things that I really like about this series - the humor, the description of the Wyoming setting and the relationships between the regular cast of characters there - are mostly missing from this entry. Vic does eventually show up in Philadelphia but it would have been better if she'd stayed in Wyoming.
Plus, it just seemed very unbelievable to me that the Philadelphia police would simply defer to this unknown sheriff from Wyoming in the investigation, even if the Morettis do vouch for him. And Walt and Henry charge around the city like natives, finding their way with no difficulty. That hasn't been my experience with unfamiliar cities.
About halfway through this book, the whole thing just went off the rails for me. It started reading like a romance novel instead of a mystery/thriller. It was extremely awkward and offputting and felt wrong, and the plot never recovered as far as I was concerned.
This was definitely my least favorite of the Walt Longmire books I've read so far. I know Johnson is capable of better than this. Let's hope he achieves it with the next book.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars