Craig Johnson’s Dry Bones

51DCz741LvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Ok, let’s start off by noting that the characters here are not the same in their characterisation as the one submarine their names on the excellent Longmire series currently running on Netflix after its previous network canceled. Even the depiction of such places as Walt Longmire’s house are radically different (instead of being clean and orderly, it’s pretty much a mess) as his personality’s quite different here. This is certainly not the first time that I’ve seen this as the Midsomer Murders series also took less than pleasant characters and gave them a rewrite that made them much more likeable.

Reading this novel after watching the first three seasons of the show was truly interesting. The largest difference is that the characters here and their relationships to each other are markedly different. And some are yet even present. Walt Longmire: the long-time sheriff of Absaroka County, is fucking Victoria “Vic” Moretti:, his Under Sheriff; Henry Standing Bear, a Cheyenne who is Walt’s best friend is a very large individual, not at all like the character as played by Lou Diamond Phillips in the series; and Branch Connally, the nephew of Lucian Connally, the previous Sheriff, simply doesn’t exist as far as I can tell.

Dry Bones is the thirteenth novel in this series and the first I’ve read. This is unusual for me as I usually only read series from the very beginning but thirteen previous novels is too much even for me to do in order to catch up quickly. So I’m judging this novel solely on its own merits. Well and having watched the series of course.

The book itself is narrated by Walt with a sardonic edge and more than a touch of humor. It’s a wonderful voice bringing the story which involves the bones of the largest dinosaur ever found in Montana to life with a death that may or may not be a murder and conflicting claims of ownership given Walt a headache. The story here shows how damned complex land rights are in Wyoming with tribal claims intersecting with landowner rights all wrapped up in both state and federal laws about what happens to Jen, the dinosaur here.

Along the way this, the eleventh in the series and not an impossible place to start reading the series I discovered, I’ll introduce you to some memorable characters and give you an introduction to a fascinating state and its people. The solving of the mystery isn’t as important as the way that Walt with the able as assistance of Vic, Henry and others ambles through the landscape asking questions (gently and not so gently), drinking Rainier beer and occasionally getting in and out of trouble.

Is it worth reading? Oh very much so though I suggest that starting at the beginning of the series make more sense. Judging solely from this novel, it’s a superb series and would definitely make for quite a few evening of reading. If you prefer listening to your mysteries as often do, George Guidall who voices these works makes a perfect Walt Longmire.

Viking, 2015

About Cat Eldridge

I’m the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current reading is the Wylding Hall novella by Elizabeth Hand, Simon R. Green’s Night Fall, and listening to Rita Mae Brown’s Crazy As A Fox.

I’m listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I’ll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather goes warmer.