MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: AN OBVIOUS FACT by Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his new Longmire mystery, An Obvious Fact, on Tuesday, September 13th, at 7 PMAn Obvious Fact comes out the same day as the event, so come on by for a chance to be one of the first to get the book signed. Click here to pre-order a copy! Can’t make it to the event? We’ll get it signed for you – just let us know!

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780525426943At times we can take a fine series for granted to the point of detriment. We continue to read the adventures of our favorite character with great enjoyment, but less appreciation. However, when the series is written by an author who knows what he or she is doing, we get a title that reminds us why we got hooked on our hero in the first place. Such is the case with An Obvious Fact, the twelfth book featuring Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire.

The book is the literary version of an acoustic set, stripping the series down to his three essential characters. Walt and and his Cheyenne buddy Henry Standing Bear go up to Hullett, a town near Devil’s Tower hosting a motorcycle climb, in which Henry is participating. The climb has been organized as part of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, bringing 50,000 bikers to a town of 400. The book captures the feeling of purgatory these towns assume to non-bikers during the rally. The two are asked to help out an investigation of a young biker gang member who may have been run off the road and put into a coma. Before long, we learn that he is the son of Lola, an old flame Henry named his famous Thunderbird after. With help from Walt’s under-sheriff, Victoria “Vic” Moretti, they find themselves in a mystery involving motorcycle gangs, illegal weapons, and star crossed lovers.

Taking Walt, Henry, and Vic outside Absoroka County and dropping them in the middle of another jurisdiction breathes fresh life into these characters. They are able to get away from the events that have been building up around them since the novel Serpent’s Tooth and focus on the crime at hand, with little interference of trouble in the past and future. The mystery reveals much about Henry and, in turn, his friendship with Walt. There is a great passage between the two as they argue why each takes crazy risks. The focus on the here and now allows Johnson a faster face and more of his trademark humor than in the previous couple of novels.

There is also time for Johnson to reflect on the mystery genre itself. The title comes from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Speckled Band”: “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” We get to hear several quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth, since Henry has brought along Les Klinger’s annotated collection, needling Walt at who the better detective is. There is an insightful monologue Walt has where he explains to Vic what kind of detective he is compared to Sherlock. Johnson uses the device of the Sherlock Holmes books to be self aware and entertaining in a way that does not take you out of the story.

By giving Walt, Henry, and Vic a mini-vacation, An Obvious Fact, does the same for readers of the series. I can can tell that Craig Johnson is building the next few books into an epic tale of moral dilemmas, putting our sheriff up against a foe like no other. I’m looking forward to that, yet I was happy he could find time for Walt to simply relax with his friend, lover, some bikers, a bunch of guns, and a few bodies.

An Obvious Fact comes out Tuesday, September 13th, just in time for Craig’s visit to BookPeople. Pre-order now!

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