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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Serpent's Tooth by Craig Johnson

You know by now that I love Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books.  I first discovered them a few years ago when reading a review by Wendy at The Bookish Kitty.  I have read five of the ten, and I have enjoyed each and every one.

A Serpent's Tooth, published in June, did not disappoint.  

When Barbara Thomas mentions that angels have been mending fences and doing household chores, occasionally taking a shower, and enjoying the Oreos she leaves on the counter when she leaves for the day, Sheriff Walt Longmire decides he would like to see the angels in action.

What he finds is a young boy who makes a quick get-away.  Eventually, Walt manages to capture the fifteen-year-old, tucks him in a jail cell, and begins trying to discover where the homeless boy belongs.  The boy turns out to be a lost boy, one of many boys or young men exiled by fundamentalist Mormon splinter groups.  (I was not familiar with this concept.)

Then Orrin Porter Rockwell shows up as the boy's bodyguard.  Except that Orrin Porter Rockwell died in 1878.  These two characters are handled in such a gentle way, as Cord, the lost boy, and Orrin, a character from the far past, watch My Friend, Flicka --over and over--marveling at a technology that neither had ever been exposed to before.

Of course, there is a darker side as well, when Walt in Wyoming and law enforcement in South Dakota must confront and deal with The Apostolic Church of the Lamb of God, whose leaders and members are creating problems.  

Undersheriff Victoria Moretti plays a larger role in this novel, and sadly, Henry Standing Bear, although present and helpful, actually has less substance than usual.

Many portions are almost laugh-out-loud funny, but the darker elements begin to carry the day as the novel progresses.  

I could nitpick about a few things, but since I enjoyed the novel immensely, I'll only say that I find it difficult to understand how Henry can be so present and so absent at the same time. He is there, intelligent, courageous, and always faithful in the friendship he and Walt share, but for some reason, he doesn't breathe as thoroughly as he usually does.  Vic just puts him in the shadow in this novel.

I have not yet watched the recent television series; I know I will eventually, but can not imagine how it could possibly portray the characters as well as the books.

Get along little dogies,
You know that Wyoming will be your new home.

And this little dogie hopes to get back to Wyoming, Casper, Casper Mountain and the Powder 
River before I get too much older.  I only wish that Absaroka County and its inhabitants were real--I'd visit them, too.

NetGalley/Penguin Group, Viking.

Mystery/Crime.  June 4, 2013.  Print version:  352 pages.
  • ISBN-10: 067002645X


  1. I am glad you are still enjoying this series, Jenclair. I'm so behind! I need to catch up (to at least you). :-)

    There's just something about the setting and the characters . . . I haven't seen the television show based on the books yet, but I have the first season ready to watch when I get the time. Like you, I can't imagine it meeting my expectations, but I hear it's well liked.

  2. It is an intelligent series, and I do love the characters! This one seems a little different from some of the others, but it is a good read.

    I've heard several people say they like the series, but none of them had read the books. Still--I will watch it, probably sooner, rather than later.