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Bookmarks Issue: 
42-Sept-Oct-2009
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A Walt Longmire Mystery

A-The Dark HorseWith his latest novel, Craig Johnson, former New York beat cop and Spur Award winner, reprises Walt Longmire, the popular sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. The Dark Horse, the fifth installment in the series, follows The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, and Another Man's Moccasins.

The Story: A valuable horse is missing, others are burned alive, and the man responsible, Wade Barsad, is dead, shot six times and incinerated in a house fire. Wyoming lawman and ex-Marine Walt Longmire has a sneaking suspicion that rodeo star Mary Barsad, the woman locked up for the murder of her husband, didn't do the deed, despite strong evidence to the contrary. After all, Mary isn't the only one who wanted her husband dead. Following his gut and a host of interesting and unsavory characters, Longmire, posing undercover as an insurance agent, sets out to find the truth.
Viking. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 9780670020874

Billings Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"The story works at once as mystery and as an exploration of Longmire's relationships and sense of justice. ... The climax continues Johnson's signature of action far different from other mysteries." Chris Rubich

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"The Dark Horse ... continues everything that was good in the first book, as well as some new good things, including added dimension to the sheriff. ... With five good novels behind him and more ahead, Craig Johnson is among the young luminaries of mystery fiction." Dale L. Walker

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"The Dark Horse delivers another solid, winning mystery in Johnson's addictive series, set amid haunting landscapes and with characters who come off the page-so much so that Johnson has gotten more than one love letter sent to him with a request to forward it to Walt. ... His publishers have backed Johnson from the get-go, and fans and reviews have avidly touted the merits of the Longmire series from the first, The Cold Dish." Peggy McMullen

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"It's the scenery-and the big guy standing in front of the scenery-that keeps us coming back to Craig Johnson's lean and leathery mysteries. ... In the end, in one of those surprising grace notes that keep this series from falling into cowboy guff, it's the song of a meadowlark that gives the killer away." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

In The Dark Horse, Craig Johnson continues to develop Sheriff Walt Longmire's personality-he's got a wicked sense of humor that can land him on the wrong side of things-and to introduce interesting new elements and characters into each installment. Johnson's regional focus-particularly his ability to evoke the austere, mysterious landscapes of Wyoming-and a noirish attitude toward crime recalls writer James Lee Burke and the long-running Dave Robicheaux series. With a new deal from Viking following early independent success, Johnson, too, seems poised for a long career atop the genre.

The First in the Series

Cold Dish (2005): Cody Pritchard is shot to death near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Was it a hunting accident or a murder? The death looks suspicious since 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 the American Indian community. ( 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2005)