Sunday, March 25, 2018

Another Man's Moccasins by Craig Johnson: A Review

This was the second mystery that I've read recently that was set in Wyoming. The other was one of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett books. Both of the books had visits by characters in them to the Hole-in-the-Wall, the famous hideout of outlaws, most notably of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It wasn't a major plot point in either book, but I found it interesting and coincidental that they both mentioned the place.

Another Man's Moccasins was the fourth in Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, and I approached reading it with some trepidation because I had found number three in the series to be a major disappointment. Fortunately, I needn't have worried. This book finds Longmire back in Wyoming, after his sojourn in Philadelphia and in this one the embarrassing and inappropriate interactions between Walt and his sexy chief deputy, Vic Moretti, are kept to a minimum and don't interfere with the plot, so that was a plus.

The plot of the book takes us to two different locations and two different periods in time: there is present day Absaroka County, Wyoming and 1968 Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam. Both places and times are seen through Longmire's eyes.

I found it quite interesting to get some of the backstory of Longmire's - and, incidentally, Henry Standing Bear's - time in Vietnam. We learn that Longmire served as a Marine Corps investigator there and that he befriended a young prostitute in the bar that he frequented. This becomes important because, forty years later, the body of a young Vietnamese woman who had been murdered is dumped in a road ditch in Absaroka County and when he goes through her effects Walt finds a picture of that other young woman that he had befriended and in the background of the picture, playing the piano, is none other than a young Walt Longmire. What could be the connection between these two women? And what could have possibly brought the murder victim to Absaroka County? Was she looking for Walt? And if so, why?

Things become complicated when it turns out that the place where the murder victim was dumped is near a culvert where a homeless Crow Indian named Virgil White Buffalo has been living. Virgil is a giant of a man who is also a veteran and who has had a checkered history, having been imprisoned not once but twice for crimes that he did not commit. And now the sheriff of Absaroka County is arresting him again on suspicion of murder, even though Walt is unconvinced that he has any connection to the crime. His presence in the vicinity of the body and the fact that he attacked Walt at the scene is enough reason to put him behind bars.

Meanwhile, there is a subplot of Walt's daughter, Cady, recovering from the injuries that she sustained in Philadelphia in book number three, and a visit by her new Philadelphia boyfriend, Michael Moretti, Vic's brother. Moreover, we get to better know some of the other new deputies in the sheriff's department, especially the Basque nicknamed (by Vic) Sancho. He gets a fairly major role in this story.

All in all, this was a thoroughly satisfying read and I feel that Johnson is back on track now. I just hope that in the future he lets Walt stay in Wyoming where he belongs and - please! - let's have no more of the May-December romance between Walt and Vic. It's just off-putting.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars       

6 comments:

  1. This is the fourth in the Longmire mystery series. Each one is better than the previous. The characters are richly drawn and the interactions with each other are worth the reading. This time we learn about Walt's experiences in Vietnam. Those experiences will be pivotal in making Walt the man he is. I enjoyed this novel immensely and plan on reading the next one as soon as possible.

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    1. This was my favorite in the series so far. I, too, enjoyed the connection to Walt's experiences in Vietnam..

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  2. I'm glad the author returned Longmire to the original setting and the 'off-putting romance' was kept to a minimum. :-) This one sounds like a solid entry in the series.

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    1. It was a solid entry and gives me hope for the future of the series.

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  3. Good old Longmire. Good old Craig Johnson. Now do you see why I used to get him mixed up with C J Box?

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    1. Same location but very different writers and very different characters. Both writers, though, are generally good at what they do.

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