ANY OTHER NAME by CRAIG JOHNSON (2014, Penguin, Paperback, 320pp) ∗∗∗∗½
Blurb: Sheriff Walt Longmire is sinking into a high-plains winter discontent when his former boss, Lucian Connally, asks him to take on a mercy case outside his jurisdiction. Detective Gerald Holman of neighbouring Campbell County is dead, and Lucian wants to know what drove his old friend, a by-the-book lawman with a wife and daughter, to take his own life. With the clock ticking on the birth of Walt’s first grandchild in Philadelphia, he enlists the help of undersheriff Vic Moretti, Henry Standing Bear, and Gillette policeman Corbin Dougherty and, looking for answers, reopens Holman’s last case. Before his mysterious death, Detective Holman was elbow-deep in a cold case involving three local women who’d gone missing with nothing to connect the disappearances–or so it seemed. The detective’s family and the Campbell County sheriff’s office beg Walt to drop the case. An open-and-shut suicide they say. But there’s a blood trail too hot to ignore, and it’s leading Walt in circles: from a casino in Deadwood, to a mysterious lodge in the snowy Black Hills of South Dakota, to a band of international hit men, to a shady strip club, and back again to the Campbell County sheriff’s office. Digging deeper, Walt will uncover a secret so dark it threatens to claim other lives before the sheriff can serve justice–Wyoming style.
Craig Johnson continues to produce novels of extremely high standard with his Longmire series, of which this is the tenth (eleventh if you count his novella Spirit of the Steamboat). Johnson has such a command of his characters and location that reading a new book in the series transports you immediately back to his Wyoming setting. The books are written in first person through the voice of Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire and his observations are delivered with great wit. The dialogue is priceless with the camaraderie between the leads (Walt’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear, his under-sheriff Victoria Morettl and former boss, the crotchety and highly entertaining Lucian Connolly) beautifully portrayed.
The case here centres around an investigator’s suicide and the link it has to three missing girls. The plot is deftly played out and builds in suspense and excitement through to its race against time climax – including the sub-plot of Walt’s pregnant lawyer daughter, Cady, in a Philadephia hospital and about to give birth demanding his presence. The Longmire books are always a pure joy from start to finish and this is no exception. If you are looking to pick one up start at the beginning with The Cold Dish and work your way through what is one of the most consistently entertaining series of books I’ve ever read.
It’s also worth catching the Longmire TV series based on the books, which use the main characters but follow a different story arc.