Featured Review: ‘Depth of Winter’ by Craig Johnson

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Depth of WinterIn Craig Johnson’s (The Western Star, 2017, etc.) 14th Walt Longmire novel, the sheriff of Absaroka County heads to Mexico, hellbent on saving his kidnapped daughter. 

Last year, Johnson dazzled readers with The Western Star, which featured a brilliant twist followed by a heart-pounding conclusion. Now, Longmire finally deals with the fallout from that ending and is determined to rescue Cady, his only child, who was taken by Tomás Bidarte, the leader of a vicious Mexican drug cartel.

Upon learning that Cady is being held in a compound somewhere in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert, Walt evades American authorities and slips into Mexico. That act proves to be the first in a seemingly endless series of giant hurdles he’ll face, none of which is made easier by his hulking frame. Wherever he goes, Walt, always the largest man in the room, sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s especially true in Mexico, creating a host of problems until his guide/sidekick, a blind man known only as the Seer, comes up with the idea of passing Walt off as former NFL star Bob “Mr. Cowboy” Lilly. It’s a fitting alias since Walt ends up tackling, slamming, and running people down during the nonstop, brawl-filled journey to try and find Cady before it’s too late. 

Longtime readers may note the lack of screentime for other series regular such as Henry Standing Bear and Vic Moretti, as Johnson focuses almost exclusively on his protagonist, who is still being developed and fleshed out after more than a dozen books.

One of the running themes throughout the story is that Walt’s only hope of surviving what everyone, including the sheriff, believes to be a suicide mission, is to become more like the men who’ve wronged him and now hold Cady’s life in their hands. From the get-go, it’s clear that Longmire will do almost anything to save his daughter, unafraid to get down in the mud and get his hands a little dirty. But while he’s willing to do whatever it takes within reason, he’s not a mindless, merciless killer like Tomás Bidarte and his men. That distinction is important, as Johnson stays true to the character he’s created, but shows he’s not opposed to stripping him down to the studs and putting him on a collision course with a whole gang of bad guys. 

While his last book was big on misdirection and mystery, Johnson shows off his versatility by switching gears and cramming in tons of action and suspense this time around. Part of the plot takes place during the Day of the Dead celebration, which proves to be quite fitting and offers a great setting for Walt to finally camouflage himself long enough to take advantage of the mask-filled parade. As the story unfolds, things finally reach a boiling point, setting up an epic showdown between Walt and Bidarte that fans will no doubt be talking about long after turning the final page. 

Faced with his most personal mission yet, Walt Longmire takes a little slice of the Wild West to Mexico. . . where Craig Johnson finally cuts his beloved hero loose, making Depth of Winter one of his most riveting and explosive novels to date.

Book Details

Author: Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire #14
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525522476
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

 

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