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Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery


Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery

If you closely study the cover of DAUGHTER OF THE MORNING STAR, Craig Johnson’s latest and (dare I say) best Longmire mystery thus far, it hints of what lies within.

The title and author’s name boldly appear over a subtle background of a human handprint, smeared in blood red paint. The stark Montana drylands fade into the background, and a single silhouetted figure, shouldering a rifle with a Stetson in hand, stares into the abyss. The red hand is the symbol adopted to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. As to the abyss, that is up to the reader.

"...[the] best Longmire mystery thus far... [A]fter turning the last page of DAUGHTER OF THE MORNING STAR, I’m stumped. And chilled to the bone."

Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming, is invited by Cheyenne Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long to Montana to turn detective. Walt holds no legal authority outside of Wyoming, but Lolo wants answers and knows he can find them. His job is to track down the source of death threats made against Lolo’s niece, Jaya "Longshot" Long. Jaya’s older sister, Jeanie One Moon, a player for the Lame Deer Lady Stars High School basketball team, vanished a year ago following a party celebrating a victory. Jaya is now a rising star on this year’s squad. Are the threats related to Jeanie’s disappearance? Or could it be connected to the plight of Indigenous women and girls who continue to vanish without a trace?

Walt, whose Cheyenne language skills are rusty, brings along Henry Standing Bear as chief translator and muscle. Frequently referred to by Walt as “The Cheyenne Nation,” Henry’s very presence can quell potential trouble, proving that he’s still his rough and ready self. However, there is an element here that I have not seen before in the Longmire saga that left me literally covered in goosebumps.

Fans of the series will welcome the faithful and massive “Dog,” who is always at Walt’s side. But this time he wanders off and seemingly vanishes into thin air, which puzzles and frightens Walt and Henry. Dog later returns but seems spooked.

As Walt and Henry sift through what sparse evidence they can discover, they find persons of interest in Jaya’s hasslers. But are they also involved in Jeanie’s disappearance? A mystical term --- “Eveohtsé-hesmese neo’mese” --- turns up time and again during their investigation. It comes from an aboriginal belief system with chilling meaning to its believers, and it is now haunting Walt.

Craig Johnson, a research buff, is a walking encyclopedia of Western history. The disappearance and rediscovery of the famous painting Custer’s Last Stand was the theme of his previous book, NEXT TO LAST STAND. Now he focuses on Cheyenne Indian lore, partially in an attempt to translate “Eveohtsé-hesmese neo’mese.” But what significance might it hold when it comes to Jeanie’s whereabouts and Jaya’s future safety? Johnson is far too professional to expound on theories even as he probes the supernatural.

Basketball is a major source of entertainment in Indian communities. Walt even has to step in and coach the Lame Deer Lady Stars team during a game when the situation gets rowdy. Jaya shows promise as she walks in the footsteps of her missing sister --- but as with most perfectionists, she is her own worst enemy.

Upon finishing NEXT TO LAST STAND, many readers wondered if Johnson was contemplating the dreaded “r” word: retirement. Not by a longshot is my guess. But after turning the last page of DAUGHTER OF THE MORNING STAR, I’m stumped. And chilled to the bone.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on October 1, 2021

Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery
by Craig Johnson

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • ISBN-10: 059329727X
  • ISBN-13: 9780593297278