Johnson’s debut novel, the first in a planned series, features middle-aged Walt Longmire, the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Usually not much happens in this cowboy town, but then Cody Pritchard is shot to death near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Was it a hunting accident—or a murder? The death looks suspicious in light of recent events: a few years earlier, Cody had been one of four high school students convicted of raping a Cheyenne girl. As Longmire starts to investigate, tensions mount between the white population and Native American community. Can Longmire solve the mystery before more die?
Viking. 384 pages. $23.95. ISBN: 0670033693
"More than anything else—the crime, the location, whatever—it is the relationships among the characters and the dialogue Johnson uses that will keep you enthralled with The Cold Dish."
"Spellbinding debut mystery. … The Cold Dish is the first in a planned new series. Which is good, because I am already missing Walt’s banter and the wild beauty of Absaroka County."
"Johnson evokes the rugged landscape with reverential prose, lending a heady atmosphere to his story. … This is Johnson’s debut novel and it shows much of the roughness that one might expect." David J. Montgomery
The Cold Dish, a multilayered whodunit mystery, stands out in its genre. Shades of racism, mysticism, and revenge give the novel nuance; dead-on dialogue, good-natured humor, and flesh-and-blood characters, including the foul-mouthed deputy Victorian "Vic" Moretti, give it life. Johnson, who lives in Ucross, Wyoming, knows the Western landscape well, and creates stunning and violent scenes (including a raging blizzard) of the Rocky Mountains. Only The Philadelphia Inquirer faulted the novel’s roughness and comparatively immature prose. The other critics look forward to reading more from Johnson’s powerful voice and reconnecting with his eccentric mélange of characters.