Featured Review: ‘Land of Wolves’ by Craig Johnson

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Land of wolvesFollowing the events of Depth of Winter (2018), Sheriff Walt Longmire is still trying to find himself, when he accidentally locates more trouble instead. 

Picking up after the war he waged in Mexico after taking on a powerful drug lord named Tomas Bidarte, Walt is a broken man both physically and mentally. Now back in Wyoming, the sheriff is recovering, but the healing is slow going. More than ever, Walt finds himself questioning whether or not he’s up to the task of being Absaroka County’s top lawman–that is, until a sheep is found dead, and both Walt and his deputy, Vic Moretti, suspect that a wolf who’s already caused a stir is to blame. 

The sheep, it turns out, was owned by Abarrane Extepare, one of the wealthiest men in Absaroka, who hired multiple migrant workers to help out on his ranch. But things take a dark turn when one of the men is found dead in an apparent suicide. Or is it?

The man, Miguel Hernandez, was found hanged to death, but Walt isn’t convinced he did so under his own power. The sheriff even finds evidence to suggest foul play, like the fact that someone or something removed all the flesh from his feet, and begins poking around to see if anyone around Miguel had the motive to kill him off. As it turns out, not everyone is in favor of Walt asking questions, and when he stumbles onto secrets from the Extepare family’s past, more trouble slowly emerges . . . and if Longmire isn’t careful, he might just find himself hanging from a rope too. 

While Depths of Winter was a solid book that tied up several huge story arcs, Craig Johnson returns his bestselling series to its roots with Land of Wolves, which is much more of a traditional mystery than an action-packed tale of revenge. Personally, I like this one more, and along with 2017’s The Western Star, I think it’s Johnson’s best work in over a decade. Not only is the writing sharp and the dialogue witty, but the plotting is on point and, though there are a few slow points, it’s nice to see all the fan-favorite characters return in meaningful ways. That includes Vic, Henry Standing Bear, Dog, and others—with each receiving plenty of screentime. Henry, more so than Vic or Walt, has an eye-raising theory about the vicious wolf, and as the two main plot threads begin to merge together, Johnson does a great job keeping readers in suspense until the very end.  

Sheriff Walt Longmore might be beaten up, exhausted, and getting up there in age, but he’s still one of the best characters in the genre . . .  and Craig Johnson knows how to spin a mystery better than just about anyone. 

Book Details

Author: Craig Johnson
Series: Walt Longmire #15
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0525522506
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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