(This is a spoiler-free book review.)
“In the depths of a high-plains winter discontent, Sheriff Walt Longmire takes on a mercy case in an adjacent county as a favor to his old boss Lucian Connally and agrees to investigate the suicide of one of Lucian’s old friends. With the clock ticking on the birth of Lola, his first grandchild, and a red-eye flight to Philadelphia, Walt must find out why the victim and by-the-book detective may have suppressed evidence concerning three missing women. It’s a secret so dark that it took the detective’s life and will take others by the time justice, in the form of Sheriff Walt Longmire, is served.”
From page one, the book was very approachable. Of course, there were references to things in previous novels, but they were never so ambiguous that I felt lost. I actually haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but I found that I really didn’t need to.
In general, I really liked the book. The tone was very much your typical Western detective novel, but what I loved about it was that Walt’s character has a lot of nuance. He’s not just some sheriff who just knows his gun and his gut, he’s actually really well-educated. He’s well-versed in Shakespeare, which is what the title of the book is referencing, and he’s got a photographic memory. So basically, any weird piece of knowledge that he picks up stays with him.
The pace of the book worked really well. In the beginning, the book took its time and leisurely laid out the story. Sure, there was a sense of some urgency, because Walt has to catch that plane to be there for his daughter when she has her baby, but the beginning of the book was relaxed. Over time, though, it definitely changes.
Halfway through the book, the story starts getting tense. Walt makes some discoveries in the case which lead him into dangerous waters. Chases, shootings, and daring rescues ensue, and from the halfway point on the tempo steadily increases until the end of the book when I was on the edge of my couch with anticipation.
The book also has bits of wry humor that I really enjoyed. At one point, Walt runs into a kid who used to date his daughter, and the kid, Corbin, tells Walt about the first time he came to pick up Walt’s daughter.
“The first time I came to pick her up, you tossed me a shotgun shell.”
“Yeah, you said they went a lot faster after eleven o’clock.”
Awesome. It’s just little things like that throughout the novel that I really enjoyed. The jokes are few and far between, but when they happen, they’re awesome. They really lighten the mood in a very dark book.
One qualm I had with the book was the portrayal of Walt’s love interest, Victoria. She’s a bit of a wild child, which doesn’t upset me, but her fixation on everything sexual felt a bit off to me. Pretty much every time she was in the novel, she made some kind of sexual joke. The content of the jokes doesn’t bother me – hell, I make sexual jokes – it’s just that it felt a little forced. She seemed to mostly be a sexual object, even though her character did have depth.
Overall, the book was engaging, and I definitely recommend it, even to people who haven’t read the rest of the books. The book officially comes out on Tuesday, May 13th. Now I need to go watch the show and see how that is!
[Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for me to review this book.]