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Land of Wolves

Review

Land of Wolves

Walt Longmire, the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, is back on the job following his near-fatal encounter with the Mexican kidnappers who abducted his daughter, Cady. He spent nearly a week in ICU and months in recovery from deep wounds to vital organs. But ask him and he’s just fine, thank you very much.

Victoria Moretti, Walt’s undersheriff, became accustomed to calling the shots while Walt was on the mend, and Deputy Sancho launched into the duties of policing with enthusiasm. All, including Ruby, his long-suffering secretary, hover over him like he’s an invalid. He’s a bit testy about that as he believes he’s bulletproof. He hopes that the occasional lapses when he drifts off for several minutes go unnoticed. They don’t, but he’s convinced he can pick up where he left off.

"Craig Johnson brings to life the stark beauty and hazardous terrain of the Powder River Range in Northern Wyoming.... Best of all, fans of the Longmire books and the hit television series are treated to a reunion with all of the main characters."

Called out to a large ranch to examine a dead carcass in a sheep kill, Walt and Vic find what looks to be a predator killing. On the hike to the sheep range, Walt thinks he has spotted what appears to be a very large wolf trailing along the tree line. It’s real enough to secure Dog, his constant companion, in the truck, but knowing a bit about wolves (or the scarcity thereof) in Wyoming, he has his doubts. They find the sheepherder’s trailer vacated, his mules tethered and untended, the sheep scattered. Walt and Vic search the area and find his body hanging from a tree limb, the victim of a murder or suicide. The speculation about wolves now takes a back seat to determining the sheepherder’s cause of death. When they go to the ranch house to notify the rancher of their discovery, they notice a small boy, the rancher’s grandson, introduced as Liam.

Upon returning to the office, they stop to search a reported abandoned vehicle containing the personal effects of a man who was passing through. When Walt contacts the owner’s wife in Colorado, she says that she and her husband had planned to pick up their son, Liam, at her father’s ranch that weekend. She had been trying to contact her husband unsuccessfully, but didn’t want the police involved because he has a record. Enter a Native American woman named Cheechoo, who seems to know all about wolves, foreign-born sheepherders, abused children and other humane causes. When Walt learns of the missing husband and then Liam is taken from home, it reaches Cheechoo’s bailiwick of causes, so she lends a hand in the search.

When word gets out that a wolf may be involved in the sheep killing, the locals respond en masse at a public hearing. It’s almost a pitchforks and torches scene as Walt and federal wildlife officials try to stem the near panic after a local reporter twists the information. Walt has one of his blackouts and behaves irrationally, remembering nothing of what happened. Already a local celebrity, he is the focus of much unwanted publicity. Sancho lets him know that he would consider running for office if, and only if, Walt decides to call it quits. Walt finds himself in a period of deep self-doubt. He has not talked with Cady in weeks as she has returned to her job in the Attorney General’s office in Cheyenne. She is no doubt having a similarly hard time adjusting to normal life after imprisonment of the notorious criminal gang in Mexico. There is a dark twist as Walt and Vic search for Liam and his grandfather.

Craig Johnson brings to life the stark beauty and hazardous terrain of the Powder River Range in Northern Wyoming. We learn much about the species of the rare original wolf and the rehab program at Yellowstone. During the search for the boy in the Hole in the Wall Cave, we hear of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Best of all, fans of the Longmire books and the hit television series are treated to a reunion with all of the main characters.

As a 12-year-old, I once spent a week in a log cabin along the stream that runs through the Bighorn Mountains near Buffalo, Wyoming. Pure Longmire territory. My father, a devout trout fly fisherman, sought out the best spots in the American West. A time to treasure.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on September 20, 2019

Land of Wolves
by Craig Johnson

  • Publication Date: September 17, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking
  • ISBN-10: 0525522506
  • ISBN-13: 9780525522508