Any Other Name by Craig Johnson
In last year’s Serpent’s Tooth, Craig Johnson turned the world of Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire upside down. A supporting character was killed and Walt got some news that would change his life forever. In the latest book, Any Other Name, Walt is kept in that dark wilderness.
The beginning has echoes of the classic noir novel, Willaim P. McGivern’s The Big Heat, and the Fritz Lang film of the same name (for the record, Craig has said he was unfamiliar with either before finishing the novel). At the start of Any Other Name, Walt and Lucien, the Absoroka County sheriff before him, go to a nearby jurisdiction to look into the suicide of Lucien’s friend, Detective Gerald Holman. Lucien has doubts that he actually killed himself. When Walt starts looking into Holman’s case files, he realizes at the very least there is some unfinished business.
Walt’s investigation takes him through the seedier side of the state of Wyoming. Johnson picks one ugly industrial town after another as he interviews (or chases down) the denizens of bars and strip clubs. The rare time Walt gets to the outdoors, he’s attacked by the wildlife. Many of the people he encounters have lost themselves to the darker side of their lives. In many ways, the book is a study in non-absolutes. The mystery Walt unravels deals with the conundrum many lawmen face between doing what’s legal and what’s right. As he goes deeper “right” only becomes a more subjective term.
Any Other Name is a perfect title for this book, since the slipperiness of identity plays a major part. Many of the characters have aliases which Walt has to uncover. Many of those lost souls he deals with are trapped in the societal expectations of class, race, and gender. Even Walt has to deal with who he is after the fallout from Serpent’s Tooth. Don’t expect the laconic lawman to deal with these issues head on. What he’s dealing with seems almost too painful to share with the reader. In the early books, Walt Longmire was dealing with his relationship with his community. Now, he is figuring out who he is to those closest to him. Much Like Holman’s death, the answers aren’t easy and may be dangerous to discover.
Craig Johnson will read from & sign his new novel here at BookPeople on Wednesday, June 11th at 7PM. You can pre-order signed copies of Any Other Name now via bookpeople.com, or find a copy on our shelves in-store.
MysteryPeople had the chance to catch up with Craig a couple weeks back for an interview. Exclusive here on the MysteryPeople blog, the topics discussed range from Wyoming to a new Carhartt jacket.