I don’t really read mysteries – that was Deck’s thing, not mine. He earnestly tried to get me into it for a while – he had a complete collection of the John D MacDonald Travis McGee novels and loved them with a fierce love; he had a collection of Thomas Perry, and of Tony Hillerman, and allthose guys – and he tried his absolute best to get me at least nominally into the mystery genre that he loved – but I just bounced off mysteries, because they failed to connect with me in some fundamental way. It’s fair – we all have our own specialised little genres that we like to drown in…
And then the TV series “Longmire” came to be. And we watched it together. And – to my astonishment – I LOVED it. When we discovered that the series was based on Craig Jonhson’s Longmire series, we promptly started to collect the books. And for some years it was a tradition of sorts to have that year’s new Longmire book wrapped up as a Christmas present – nominally for Deck, but I usually ended up reading it first, in the January of the brand new year as it began to unfold.
Last year, the Longmire book was there.
Deck wasn’t. Isn’t. He never got to open his Christmas presents, never saw this book, never got to read it. But it’s January, and it’s tradition, and I picked up the new Longmire book in the new January, and I read it.
For a couple of books I thought that the series had taken a sharp left turn into what I considered to be the wrong territory – Sheriff Longmire pitted against Mexican cartel drugrunners and going all gung ho and James Bond, getting himself into situations far from Absaroka County and its own special brand of problems. I actually own a SIGNED Longmire book but it happens to be the worst one (in my opinion) of the series and I am probably not keeping it (not THAT much of a completist…) but this new one… Walt Longmire is back. It was a quick read, and a thoroughly enjoyable one – it may have a few issues (I think the plot is a little bit muddy because there is a threat but it isn’t completely clear where it actually comes from and it doesn’t actually come to a conclusion so much as a pause and I think that the next book is going to pick up where this one left off… and cliffhangers are evil…) but on the whole the context that I loved is back, there is the interaction between characters I love, there is drama, there is a touch of that mysticism that reaches through the veil between the worlds, there is even vintage laconic Longmire humor to leaven it all – and we’re back, we’re back to what drew me in to the Longmire books in the first place. I finished the 320-page hardcover in two nights of reading and I am now – again – looking forward to the next in the series. I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of it or spoil it – suffice it to say that it actually touches on some serious contemporary issues (such as the tragic statistics about the fate of so many Native American women, which the press doesn’t seem to be inclined to cover in a manner in which it deserves to be in order for it to start being dealt with) – but I am just going to say this – it was a good solid January read.
Tradition accomplished, love. Even gone, you are still here with me. And so will Longmire continue to be for as long as there are new books to be had. In your name. In the company of your spirit.