Needing a bridge, something that wouldn't tax my brain too much, to take me between more serious readings, I turned to Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series.
I don't mean to denigrate Johnson's writing. He's very entertaining and he writes with a light touch and a lot of sardonic Western humor. Sometimes that is exactly what a reader needs and this was one of those times.
As the Crow Flies is the eighth book in the series. Having read the first seven in order, I was ready to see where Walt's and Henry Standing Bear's adventures would take them this time. I was amused to learn that their latest caper was as wedding planners.
Walt's daughter, Cady, is getting married in two weeks at the time that the novel begins, and Walt and Henry have been tasked with securing a venue and making the plans. Things are not going swimmingly.
Cady wants to get married on the Reservation and Henry believed he had reserved the site for the occasion, but then the person in charge of the place informed him that she had okayed the site for another purpose on the date in question. Now Henry and Walt must find a new site or find a way to change her mind.
They opt to look for a new venue and head out to an area of scenic cliffs. While looking around, they observe a woman on top of one of the cliffs. And then they see her fall onto the rocks below. They manage to reach her just at the moment of her death.
Walt's dog (unimaginatively named Dog) was with them and he finds a bundle that had rolled away from the woman's body. It is a blanket wrapped around a baby. It's evident that the baby was in the woman's arms when she fell and he is alive and not seriously hurt.
Since they are on Reservation land, they contact the new Chief of Police there, a young woman named Lolo Long. She has a prickly relationship with the two and with almost everyone else with whom she comes in contact, but, of course, she and Walt wind up working together to investigate the death.
Things become more complicated a few days later when the dead woman's abusive alcoholic husband is found dead also. He had been shot. There's no question that this was murder, but was the woman's death murder, suicide, or accident? Is someone trying to get rid of the family? What motive could possibly exist?
Walt and Lolo, along with Henry, negotiate the convoluted Reservation relationships and attempt to piece together what has happened and who is responsible. Meanwhile, Cady and her soon-to-be mother-in-law arrive in town and begin making the arrangements for the wedding themselves.
This was a very quick and highly entertaining read. There were none of the things in this narrative that I've sometimes found annoying in the earlier books. In fact, I would say this is my favorite Walt Longmire novel so far. The plot moves quickly and most of the characters are old friends and the new ones, like Lolo, are nicely fleshed out with interesting back stories. I think Johnson is on a roll with this series.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars