One of the best things about Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire series is his ability to consistently deliver everything we love about his books without writing the same story over and over again. Since it is humor, characterization, and sense of place that are associated with these mysteries about the put-upon sheriff in a small Wyoming town, he has room to play with pace, plot, and even sub genre. In As The Crow Flies, he takes Walt out of Absaroka County jurisdiction for a murder on the Cheyenne Reservation.
Walt and his buddy, Henry Standing Bear, are there to find a location for his daughter, Caddy’s, wedding. They witness a woman and her baby being thrown off a mountain ridge by an unknown assailant. They save the child, but not the mother. They are immediately arrested by a green tribal police chief, Lola Long, who later asks Walt for help. His sense of duty has him traveling through the rez, its politics, culture, and people in a way that Tony Hillerman would love.
As usual, it is the humanity that Johnson brings to the story that I enjoy. He brings as much importance to Caddy’s wedding as he does to the murder with Walt, struggling to show his daughter how she is the main priority while trying to give voice to the dead. The range of Cheyenne characters he shows avoid stoic stereotypes or white pity. You feel you know the place with its small houses, stores, and rough bars after you’ve read it. He even puts Walt in a peyote ceremony that is worth the price of the book.
Once again, Craig Johnson gives us a unique Longmire book with people I can’t wait to read about in the next installment.