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The January Read 2024

So another year has rolled by.  If you haven’t strolled past here before there’s a tiny bit of backstory to get through.

Mysteries are so not my jam, but they were my husband’s and he had entire collections of writers he enjoyed. He tried to engage me with Tony Hillerman but I bounced off them hard it was like trying to swan dive into a frozen pond. But then we started watching a TV show called “Longmire”, and – well – this was something I unexpectedly ENJOYED. I liked the characters and the setting and the context and when I found out that there were books… well, I bought the first Longmire novel as a Christmas present for hubs the year I found out about them, and it became a tradition that every Chriistmas that year’s new Longmire novel was wrapped up for him to find on Christmas morning. It also became a bit of a tradition for me to read the book FIRST, and it became the January Read, the first book I read every year. You’re up to speed – there was a new Longmire book this year, and although my husband is gone now I continue the tradition, in his memory and his name.

This year’s January Read is “The Longmire Defense”. Fair warning, there may be spoilers.

After a couple of years of what I consider serious missteps, particularly the book where Walt Longmire the Absaroka County Sheriff became a “Longmire, Walt Longmire” James Bond type character going after Mexican drug cartels with large-caliber war hardware, Craig Johnson has brought the storyline back to where it is the strongest, Wyoming. But this is the 19th Longmire book, and there is a strange sense of an impending farewells in it. A long-standing and iconic medical officer character finally retires in this current book, and there’s an exchange between him and Walt:

 

“I’m going to miss you, Doc.”

“We all have to go sometime.”

 

And there’s a sense of Walt’s own story circling to a close here. There are more references in this book to the “next” sherriff than there have ever been before. And in his personal life Walt Longmire has finally resolved and let go his long-standing grief over the death of his wife, Martha, and has fully engaged in a relationship with his undersherriff Victoria Moretti – to the point that there is a marriage proprosal, and at the end of this novel it is very clear that Vic is on board and that a new chapter in Walt’s life is about to begin. THis may also be where the Longmire series at least begins to end, and you know, I would be ok with that at this stage – 19 books (and counting) is a good run, and god knows I don’t want to see this character ridden into the ground like so many other wonderful characters have been when their creators don’t know where to stop. This particular novel is a little bit about Walt’s new chapter and a little bit about a (very) cold case involving his own grandfather, and in both instances there is a sense of closure happening and if I am right about this I think that I am going to end up being very grateful to Craig Johnson for having created Walt Longmire and his crew, for cranking open the door that allowed me into the mystery genre and into something I could share with the man I loved so much. I’ll keep an eye out for the next book if there is one and even the one after – but if I get the feeling that any future installment has been written just “for the money” and phoned in, as it were, that’s where I”ll quit reading. But not yet. This was a good decent read. Longmire (still) lives and I remain faithful.

And I look up into the heavens, and say, happy new year, love. The January Read has been done.

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