Today I am reviewing Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson. This is the sixteenth novel in the Walt Longmire series (plus some short stories and novellas) and it takes place one month after the events in Depth of Winter. Walt is still recovering from what happened in Mexico, both physically and emotionally. He had to do things down in Mexico that he had never imagined he would have to do and now wonders if it has changed him. Is he still the same man that he was before?
However, crime doesn’t wait and he has a possible murder to investigate. This is complicated when he sees a single wolf in the tree line. This one wolf doesn’t seem to be part of a pack and is older and larger than normal. There is something indefinable about it.
In every one of the Longmire books, Walt has some type of metaphysical concern. In this case, is the wolf a spirit animal or is Virgil White Buffalo trying to communicate with him? Plus Walt has been having instances of freezing both mentally and physically; is this a reaction from the events in Mexico or is his body preparing for a vision, as Henry Standing Bear suggests?
Throughout the book, Walt is besieged by questions. Is he investigating a murder or a suicide? Is he a different man, should he still be sheriff? How can he finally use a computer? Will a cell phone be next?
That singular wolf also causes some panic among the townspeople. Just because the wolf nibbled on the dead man in the woods, people are convinced he is a danger (everyone knows that once they’ve tasted human, they will want to eat humans, as people keep telling Walt). All the while he is still wondering just what the wolf is doing there and doesn’t see a reason it needs to be killed, though he is in the minority. He tries to stay out of it, after all wildlife are the concern of Predator Control or Fish and Game, not the Absaroka Sheriff’s Department. but keeps getting pulled in.
As one expects with Craig Johnson’s books, the characters are believable, each with their own foibles; and both positive and negative character traits. For example, Vic Moretti, while known for her outrageous language and impatience with people shows extraordinary concern when there is a missing child and when dealing with a confused elderly woman.
I am not a fan of reading excessive scenery description, but Johnson’s writing has just the right amount so that the high plains and mountains of the area are visible in the reader’s mind and become characters of the book on their own. With each book the characters develop and grow, they change in ways that, while unexpected, are logical.
As usual with the Longmire series, I loved this book. With each one, Walt is given a difficult situation, or numerous difficult situations, that he resolves in his own unique way.
5 out of 5 stars: *****