Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka, Wyoming, is on a vacation of sorts along with his pal Henry Standing Bear. Traveling to Hulett, Wyoming, Henry plans to participate in a motorcycle race he won many years prior in an attempt to relive the glory days. However, in typical Longmire never-take-a-day-off fashion, he’s also traveling to lend his hand in an investigation.
Unfortunately for Henry, the glory days–in the form of an old lady friend–walks right up and slaps him in the face.
Lola Wojciechowski, the woman who Henry named his 1959 Thunderbird after (and who, in turn, is the namesake for Walt’s granddaughter), is a blast from the past who races her way back into Henry’s life after her son finds trouble.
Henry doesn’t trust Lola, and for good reason, her past is so checkered you could play a game of chess on it. But once she reveals that she’s directly related to the case Longmire had agreed to look into, Standing Bear lowers his guard just enough to hear her out.
It turns out Lola’s son, “B-way” Torres, is a member of the Tre Tre Nomads biker gang. He was recently involved in an accident while riding, which left him the ICU fighting for his life. Doctors say he has brain damage, and there’s a good chance he might never wake up.
It was Chief William “Nutter Butter” Nutter who originally called Walt and requested his help. Nutter and his whopping one deputy are the only lawmen in a town that will soon be hosting more than 50,000 bikers during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Lola believes someone ran her son off the road and suggests one of the rival gangs may have been responsible. Plenty of gangs–The Hells Angels, Mongols, Pagans, Sons of Silence, Outlaws, Bandidos, Warlock, and Vagos, just to name a few–have beef with the Tre Tre Nomads, and therefore may have had the motive to go after Torres.
What once seemed to be a simple biking accident soon becomes a much bigger ordeal that churns up numerous other suspects and shady characters. Among them are Bob Nance, a local millionaire who helped Nutter secure a bulky MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, and his daughter, who initially lies about her relationship with Torres.
Things take another turn when one of the bikers Walt mixes it up with on more than one occasion turns out to be an undercover agent with the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
For much of the book, Vic Moretti, Walter’s deputy (who he’s romantically involved with), is in Philadelphia investigating the death of her brother, who was married to Walt’s daughter, Cady. Cady, meanwhile, is dealing with losing her husband and adapting to life as a single parent.
In the story’s final act, Walt and Henry find themselves waist-deep in bad guys and severely outnumbered. Vic makes her grand entrance just as the crap hits the fan, and her presence brings added energy to an already explosive, fast-moving plot.
Just when you think you have Johnson’s fastball timed, he mixes in his offspeed pitches to keep readers off-balance. In the end, it’s Henry Standing Bear who utters one of Sherlock Holmes’ most famous lines, which perfectly sums up the plot of Craig Johnson’s twelfth novel: “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
As always, Craig Johnson does a masterful job building suspense before kicking it into high gear and pulling off a magnificent, full-throttle ending that’s sure to please both longtime fans and readers who are new to the series.
Craig Johnson knows what he’s doing, and rarely does he ever miss when it comes to giving fans what they want. Though he hasn’t incorporated motorcycles into the focus of any of his other books, the author is, evidently, somewhat of a biking enthusiast.
Apparently, Johnson has even made it a yearly tradition to cap off his book tours with a long multi-state biking trip. So it was really cool to see him incorporate his passion for bikes in this book.
Another area Johnson excels at is adding a touch of humor. There’s just enough sarcasm and one-liners to supply a few spontaneous chuckles, but without going overboard. This is especially true in scenes where Walt and Henry go back and forth ribbing one another, as the two longtime friends play really well off of each other.
An Obvious Fact is a ton of fun and wildly entertaining. Other than adding motorcycles to the mix, this is your typical Longmire mystery. No need to switch up a formula that has sold well over a million books on its way to forging a dedicated band of followers.
Author: Craig Johnson
Pages: 317 (Hardcover)
Release Date: September 13, 2016 (Order Now!)