Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Kindness Goes Unpunished (trade, $14), by Craig Johnson

The third entry in Johnson's sterling series finds main character Sheriff Walt Longmire in Philadelphia, far from his home in Absaroka County, Wyoming, to accompany his great and good friend Bear, who has accepted an invitation to lecture at a museum, and to visit his daughter Cady, "The Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time," as Walt has nicknamed her, who lives there.

Soon after he arrives in Philadelphia, his daughter is injured and lies silently in a coma from which she may never recover. She had been eager for him to meet her current love interest, the same love interest who may have caused her injury or may actually have been her savior or may not have been there at all.

Longmire and Bear stride in straightforward Wyoming fashion to “interview” suspects and track down potential reasons why Cady had been targeted. Absaroka County Deputy Victoria “Vic” Moretti’s large and unruly family, most of whom are Philly police officers, mostly aid Longmire in his quest, but far too frequently his life is merely complicated by them, especially by Vic’s mother, a femme fatale whose motives remain mostly ulterior.

Throw in a dog named “Dog,” a white Indian on a spiritual quest, gun-toting lawyers who socialize over target practice, and yee-haw, we got ourselves a fine mystery.

Johnson’s deft touches of humor and ability to sketch warmth into his characters and their relationships with each other anchor a book whose plot sometimes becomes overly convoluted. That has not stopped me from declaring that this is one of the best books I’ve read since … Johnson’s last book. He has a fine sense of pacing and an ear for snappy dialogue. He can also tug at a heartstring along with the best of them.

I met Craig Johnson when he came to Murder By the Book for a signing, and what a joy it was. He and his wife are a great comedy act. Johnson is expansive, a great storyteller, and answers every question as if he had never heard it so well asked by anyone else ever. Even the new design of his book covers became an interesting aside. His books don’t sell as well on the East Coast; readers there apparently aren’t attracted to a picture of a mountain man with a shotgun silhouetted against a Technicolor rising or setting sun. I’m not certain why we readers on the western side of the country would find it any more attractive, but perhaps we view him as a symbol of our go-west-young-man thinking, girly sunset notwithstanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment