The Cold Dish

It happens to the best of us, even those who work in a bookstore— a book series gets picked up for a tv show and that’s what gets my attention for the otherwise unknown-to-me series. In my defense (in all our defenses, really), there’re just too many good books and series to keep on top of.

So, I’d heard of the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson when Netflix picked it up, and I’ve seen bits of a few episodes, enough to make me think I might enjoy it. And I recommended it often when I worked at the bookstore. But it wasn’t until this month that I actually decided to read the first book in the series, The Cold Dish.

Walt Longmire is the sheriff in a small Wyoming county, looking forward to retirement in a few years. His mostly peaceful county is shaken when the body of a young man is found. The young man is one of several teens convicted of sexual assault against a young Cheyenne woman, but the boys were given suspended sentences. As Longmire and his deputies start investigating, it becomes clear that someone has a score to settle, and everyone is a suspect. Even Longmire himself can’t express too much sorrow over the death, but duty requires him to track down the other young men before they meet the same fate.

Johnson writes in a very casual style, making it easy for readers to sink into the mind and habits of Walt Longmire. The characters come to life and have their own quirks, which readers see from Longmire’s point of view. What’s more, they come across as very human, which is always extra enjoyable for readers.

The story moves along at a good pace, and though I had a general idea of what went on in the book, I still enjoyed moments of suspense for the things I couldn’t remember. Though the premise of the book is challenging (sexual assault and rape, along with not exactly thwarted justice, but certainly not satisfactory justice), I think Johnson handled it well, giving readers details as Longmire’s character remembered the case, instead of giving a vivid recap.

This is definitely a series I’d be interested in pursuing more of (or even just watching, as tv shows do a little more justice than movies). However it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. In addition to the potential triggers specific to this book, the characters are also profane with language and cavalier with relationships, which could be a turn off for some readers. That said, if those items aren’t make-it or break-it for a reader, it will certainly appeal to those who enjoy westerns and mysteries.

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