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by Craig Johnson
Viking, September 2016
320 pages
ISBN: 0525426949

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

For his twelfth full-length outing, Walt Longmire is in Hulett, Wyoming, just over the border from Sturgis, South Dakota, in the midst of the famous motorcycle rally. While Henry Standing Bear, his longtime friend, attempts to repeat a biking race win from 20 years ago, Walt looks into the cause of a young man's crash that has left the boy in a coma. We meet Lola, the real person after whom Bear's Thunderbird is named, and whose son is the young man in question. Walt's daughter and granddaughter are now in Cheyenne, and his undersheriff, Vic, eventually joins up with Walt and Henry in Hulett. For loyal followers of the series, Johnson's filling in of the background is sufficient. For those new to the series, it would be best to first read KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED. Many of the events and interactions in AN OBVIOUS FACT harken back to that third in the series. On the other hand, those who are most interested in the Sturgis setting and the outlaw motorcycle gang angle may not be bothered by not completely understanding the references to the past.

For its dark plot, which involves drug and gun running, several murders, neo-Nazi groups, and frequent fights and violence, the book has a fairly light touch. The underlying sense of menace that is common in many of the Longmire books is missing in this one. Prior books in the series have place Walt in situations where the reader feels the peril that Longmire faces. In AN OBVIOUS FACT, Longmire almost skates above the level of that danger. On the other hand, the car chases with Vic at the wheel are thrilling and suspenseful, pulling the reader right into the center of the action.

Throughout the series, Johnson has done an amazing job of transporting the reader to the locations of his books. In this latest, he is less successful in this regard. Perhaps this is because the majority of the action takes place in the town of Hulett rather than in the vast expanses or the mountains of Wyoming. Johnson seems to do best when describing the state's landscape. The book is set in the area around Devil's Tower, and a few short scenes set near the monument build images in the reader's mind that the majority of the book set in town doesn't accomplish.

In the end, the Sturgis connection makes for an interesting diversion for Longmire, but it is not the strongest in the series. For those who are following the series, this is a quick and different read. For those who are new to the series, this is not the best entry point.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, October 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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