Review: The Cold Dish, Craig Johnson

Rating: 5 out of 5

I only recently learned of Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka, but he quickly became one of my favourite fictional characters. The greater my pleasure when I realized that there is an entire series of books about his adventures, and the quicker I planned to take one up.

Starting with the beginning of this first title, we are in a slightly different place than in the series. As the TV version was my introduction to the character, it’s good to note how: specifically, the case is different, and Walt’s deputies are also different. Lucian has a much bigger role in this version as well. Most characters are a bit more fleshed out when they can be properly described along with their backstory so that also shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What I didn’t expect Mr Johnson’s books to be were well-written. We’re not dealing with a Tolkien or a Wodehouse, but Johnson’s descriptive POV style really got to me: I was in Walt Longmire’s shoes, I knew his thoughts, and I had the same perception of the case that had did. In truth, I was surprised how much I liked this choice because I’d never really considered it that good an option for crime novels.

The other aspect that Mr Johnson managed to evoke perfectly was that of Wyoming. Fall’s over, winter coming; for the characters of Durant, Wyoming, this means a slower season, end of hunting and fishing seasons, and this is really felt in the activities that go on. The odd historical tangent that the author’s thought about are also thrilling, as the fictional Durant’s location by the Bighorn National Forest gives the author a lot of landscape to describe.

The crime itself—the murder of a rapist—wasn’t spoiled by one’s knowledge of the similar TV series episode. Nearly the entirety of the cast who feature are different, and the perpetrator is also someone different. The story comes together in a nice way, and it wasn’t too difficult to believe at any point.

This was definitely one of my favourite recent books, and I’ll be continuing to read what Walt got up to next.

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