Friday, June 29, 2012

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Reviewed by Doris

When you pick up a Nora Roberts book, you know what you are getting. There’s a smart, pretty, feisty heroine. The gorgeous hero will be someone who makes her really mad but for whom she feels this immediate “pull.” There will be snappy dialogue, some kind of mystery or adventure, and some scintillating sex that only occasionally gets raunchy. Black Hills continues that formula as only Nora Roberts can.

Remember that old cliché that you never get over your first love? Roberts takes that idea, plants it in the Black Hills of South Dakota on a horse ranch, and lets nature take it course. Coop is an eleven year old New Yorker who is angry that he has been shipped off to his grandparents’ ranch for the summer because of his parents’ messed up relationship. He is also pretty sure no one really loves him. Lil is a wide-open-spaces child of two loving parents who are neighbors and friends to Coop’s grandparents, and she knows an injured critter when she sees one. In one dinner and a game of baseball, these children become inseparable friends.

Through the years Coop returns to visit his grandparents whom he has come to love deeply and the girl who is his best friend. At eighteen Coop and Lil are passionately in love, but that path is more than rocky. A horrible discovery mars their last summer together, and Coop’s strained relationship with a domineering father causes him to break things off with Lil “for her own good.” Lil goes on to become a world-renown biologist and expert on big cats who establishes a nature preserve on her family land. Coop becomes a police officer and then sets up his own security company in the wake of his police partner’s death. Yet, for both of them, something fundamental is missing from their lives.

Twelve years after leaving Lil devastated, Coop comes back to the Hills. Drawn back into Lil’s world and the only place he has ever felt loved, Coop sets out to reclaim her heart. Stalling his efforts is someone tied to that horrible discovery made years ago who may be a serial killer and deadly threats on Lil’s life. Lil and Coop find it is easy to work together to find a murderer, but very hard to get past the old hurts and misunderstandings. Will love triumph in the end? Will our hero save the girl? Come on folks, this is a Nora Roberts book! Of course it all works out: it takes awhile to get there.

Critics haven’t particularly liked this Roberts romance. Some have felt the story lags and the characters are not up to her usual standards. The question has been raised that perhaps the Queen of Romance is turning out books too quickly to maintain her quality. My feeling is that I read Nora Roberts as an escape. If I want reality, I will watch CNN. While it may not be her best romance, I enjoyed the friendships which Roberts always does well and the animals. I like Lil better than Coop, but I can see in Coop all the reasons Lil would love him. As I said before, it is a Nora Roberts book. If you are a fan, you know what you are going to get, and you like the formula.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nevermore: Beyond Religion & A Clockwork Orange

As usual, the Nevermore Book Club discussion was wide ranging! It began with a discussion of some classic movies and books.  For the most part, it was agreed, books are better than the movies with a few exceptions.  Occasionally there are triumphs in which both book and movie are of high quality, with differences that reflect their different media.  “The Wizard of Oz” was one example.  On the other hand, “Jaws” the movie was better than Jaws the novel by Peter Benchley.
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama argues that religion alone cannot solve all the world’s problems.  The traditional view for many has been that religion is necessary for morality, but this book argues that compassion along with respect and tolerance can do more to help on a global basis.  He isn’t advocating elimination of religion, by any means: he believes that religions should be respected but the “religion wars” have been detrimental to finding solutions.  There isn’t a universal religion and what is meaningful in one tradition may have no significance in another tradition. 
Sometimes even well-known religious motifs and symbols may go unnoticed when presented in a different form.  When Jud first read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all those years ago, he didn’t think about Christian symbolism in the book. 
Likewise, other books may have underlying themes or assumptions of which the reader may or may not be aware.  In A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess was referencing B.F. Skinner’s behavioral modification studies as well as sociological commentary. In the book, the assumption is that we can change people for the better, that anyone can change if he really wants to.  Can a state force people to adhere to a code?  Or should it even try? When asked about the book, Burgess said that the villain was a composite of all of us.  There was a horrendous side, but also a part that appreciated beauty. 
Clockers by Richard Price also conveys a bleak world, but this one is real.  Rocco Klein is a cop nearing retirement who is called in to investigate the murder of a drug dealer.  His suspect is Striker, another dealer in the same operation. When Striker’s solid citizen brother confesses to the crime, Klein is sure that he’s just covering for Striker. This gritty, complex novel has outstanding characters and complex plot threads that raise it above a standard police procedural.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Reviewed by Jeanne
It seems to be a truth universally agreed upon that a beloved novel must have sequels, even if the original author is disinclined to produce such; hence the host of books employing Miss Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in roles of courtship (yes, again), marriage, parenthood and zombie slayers.
When I first heard that P.D. James was going to add to the multitude of books about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, I vacillated between excitement and apprehension.  I do love Pride and Prejudice but I have not loved any of the sequels.  They’ve all missed the mark for me in some way, and most dreadfully. I have also greatly enjoyed P.D. James’ two mystery series, especially the Adam Dalgleish.  I hoped Pemberley wouldn’t prove to be Baroness James’ Waterloo.
As the book opens, everyone is anticipating Lady Anne’s Ball, a tradition begun by Mr. Darcy’s mother.  Guests—including Mr. and Mrs. Bingley—will be arriving, silver must be polished, flowers arranged, food prepared, entertainment arranged, rooms readied, and so forth.  On the eve of the ball, everything is disrupted by the arrival of an hysterical Lydia, Elizabeth’s silly and self-centered sister, crying that her husband is dead.  A search party is sent out into the night, where Wickham is found alive but blood-covered and kneeling beside the dead body of his friend, Captain Denny.  Wickham’s drunken assertion that he’s killed Denny doesn’t help matters one whit, especially as he later says he didn’t actually bash Denny’s head in, but proving either claim is a matter for the trial.
While I can’t say this book is an utter triumph, I do think that it comes closest to sustaining the tone of the original of any that I have read.  What it doesn’t do—and frankly, can’t do—is recapture the intensity of the courtship between Darcy and Elizabeth.  They’re seen here as a settled married couple, still in love with one another but now more bound by duty and obligation to family and dependents than to passion.  I found it an entirely believable situation.  Some authors have sought to enliven their sequels by having characters repeatedly casting aspersions on Elizabeth’s character, thereby forcing Darcy to rush to her defense as a declaration of love or have some other occurrence to drive a wedge between the two lovers in order for them to continually break up and reconcile, a sort of “As Pemberley Turns.” 
James is also constrained by the need to explain some social differences between the times that Austen would not have needed to do as well as treat certain characters a bit differently.  For example, servants are presented more as individuals than they were in Austen’s work, partly to explain situations and relationships. (I can foresee a time when children all receive schooling via computer in their homes and a future author, writing a story set in 1970, would feel it necessary to explain who the school bus driver is and why parents blithely send children out to get on a bus with a comparative stranger.) Also, social relationships are much more important and reflect on both parties:  the fact that Wickham isn’t received at Pemberley isn’t a simple social snub, but an indictment of his character.  
On the plus side, James does much better than most at hinting at Austen’s humor throughout the book, with little social observations enlivening the descriptions and action. For example, she writes about Elizabeth’s acceptance as Mrs. Darcy:  “Within a month a consensus had been reached:  the gentlemen were impressed by Elizabeth’s beauty and wit, and their wives by her elegance, amiability and the quality of the refreshments.” Some mystery fans have complained about the solution, but I see it as a reflection on how things would have been resolved in a novel at that time, before certain mystery conventions were accepted.  I do feel she has a solid grasp of the characters and can believe in the futures she has postulated for them, and she doesn’t endlessly retell the story of Elizabeth and Darcy except in those details which pertain to the story at hand.  (The phrasing used ends up being just a bit contagious, rendering it somewhat dangerous for one to read before one undertakes the task of writing a review or even a shopping list lest it seems one is being paid by the word as was Dickens.)
Is this a book to treasure?  Maybe not, but I wouldn’t be adverse to reading it again and that’s more than I can say for most of the Austen homages.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Witness by Nora Roberts

Reviewed by Doris
“Elizabeth Fitch’s short-lived teenage rebellion began with L’Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors, and a fake I. D. It ended in blood….” 
From this first line of Roberts’ 200th published novel, you get hooked on the story of one of her most unusual main characters.
 Elizabeth is the product of a carefully chosen artificial insemination by an emotionless, controlling mother. Every moment of her existence is monitored by parent who looks on her as more of a science experiment than a child until one night Elizabeth decides to make her own choices. Those choices place her in the middle of a Russian mob hit. She becomes a protected witness but betrayal sends her running for her life into the night. Twelve years later she has a new identity, a new home, a huge dog trained to protect, a gun strapped on her hip, and a new sheriff wondering just what she is hiding.
Still hunted by the Russians Elizabeth has developed sharply honed survival skills. Isolated by the need for total control to ensure her survival, she has minimal contact with people around her. When Sheriff Brooks Gleason begins to drop by to chat and snoop just a bit, she is unsure, frightened, attracted to his easy manner and charm. Still, as with everyone she meets, Elizabeth has to ask, “Is he the one who will betray me?”
 This book has the usual Roberts’ signature points but expands on them to make The Witness the strongest standalone novels Roberts has done in several years. The plot is a top thriller caliber storyline. It builds tension and moves rapidly to keep you reading (500 pages read in one night because I wanted to know what happens with the crazy Russians). Most importantly, Elizabeth is different than Roberts’ usual heroine. She is socially awkward as brilliant people often are. The only emotions she has felt for years are fear and anxiety. When Sheriff Brooks Gleason keeps pestering her and prying into her business, she is blindsided by the feelings he generates inside her. She is also very strong-willed and brave and determined that her fate is her hands and no one else is responsible for it. While you can guess the ending well before the last page, you are touched by Elizabeth’s journey through the maze of emotions and deadly treachery around her. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Child Who by Simon Lelic

Reviewed by Jeanne
There is a prologue, but the real story of The Child Who by Simon Lelic starts with a celebration of an apparent piece of good luck.  Attorney Leo Curtice returns a routine call to the police station and finds himself the attorney appointed to represent a twelve year old boy who stands accused of brutally murdering an eleven year old girl.  It’s a high profile case that could make Leo’s career, and Leo does have ambitions; the problem is, he’s also idealistic. He doesn’t quite understand the rising anger directed not only at his client but at Leo himself.  Then the anonymous letters start arriving, and he begins to fear for not only his own safety, but that of his wife and daughter as well.
Lelic sets up several fascinating, complex moral dilemmas in his novel.  Leo is hardworking, earnest and hoping to finally prove himself.  Daniel Blake, the boy accused of murder, is sullen and angry and yet Leo feels sorry for the child whom so many want to toss to the wolves.  The child’s mother and stepfather seem more interested in how the case will affect them than they do in the outcome for Daniel.  Meanwhile, Leo’s wife is becoming increasingly frightened and upset as their daughter is bullied at school over her father’s involvement in the case.  In some ways, this book is a good companion for William Landay’s Defending Jacob, in which a district attorney finds his own son accused of murdering another student.  For me, Lelic’s book is more about the questions: can a child be responsible for murder? Who is to blame? How much should an individual risk in the name of some perceived higher principle? Lelic doesn’t provide any easy answers—or really, any answers.  Choices are made and prices are paid.  The characters are interesting but I didn’t find them engaging; it might have influenced readers more strongly in one direction or another and I don’t think that was the author’s intent.  He wants us to wonder. Leo, for example, asks many of the questions about justice but he also sees the case as a way to make a difference in the world.  Is he fighting for Daniel or for his own reputation?
The book does have some very deft twists and turns, though I’m not sure I’d dub it a thriller as some reviews did.  One big twist in particular I didn’t see coming, but in looking back there were hints.  If you like a mystery that gives you an opportunity to mull some big questions, this may be the book for you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth M. Howard

Reviewed by Jeanne
Beth Howard had always had a taste for pie, but she didn’t plan on making it her life’s work.  She also didn’t plan on falling in love with and marrying Marcus, a wonderful German man whose workaholic ways and many job transfers made for more time apart than together.  She didn’t plan on filing for divorce as the only way to save the relationship.
Most of all, she certainly didn’t plan on Marcus dying suddenly at age 43, with the divorce still pending.
Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, Beth tried to cope the only way she knew how: by making pies.  She calls pie the ultimate comfort food.   Pie can be sweet or savory, hot or cold, and it can be made of almost any edible ingredient. Pie had saved Beth once before when she’d quit a stressful job at a dot com and become an apprentice pie-maker at a Malibu eatery.  In fact, Beth owed her entire existence to a banana cream pie with which her future mother wooed her future father.
So pie it was.  A friend of Beth’s thought that she might do a reality TV show about pie and was pitching the idea to the Food Channel.  They decided to shoot some sample episodes that would have Beth traveling the country making pies and interviewing other pie makers. Marcus had bought an enormous RV to take camping, so Beth loaded it up and set out to spread some joy and perhaps to ease her own pain.
The result is this bittersweet memoir, the story of one woman’s attempt to overcome tragedy.  There’s a lot about pie, some thoughts on human nature, a good deal of self-analysis.  This isn’t a cookbook, though there are a few recipes included.  There are very clear directions on how to make a pie crust—a good pie crust, that is.  It’s not giving anything away to say that Beth ends up living in the iconic “American Gothic” house, the one immortalized in the Grant Woods painting.  As she says at the start of the book, it may be the only house in which the renter has to sign an agreement to be nice to tourists as part of the agreement.  While this is no Year of Magical Thinking, it is an interesting and sometimes moving memoir that covers a lot of American territory.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canaan's Gate by Kathryn Wall

Reviewed by Doris

My first review for our blog was on Kathryn Wall’s Bay Tanner series.  Just to refresh your memory, Bay Tanner lives on Hilton Head, is gorgeous, smart, financially secure, and most likely to get into deep trouble. Her husband Rob was a special investigator for the SLED, South Carolina’s equivalent of the FBI. While investigating a drug cartel he is killed and Bay is gravely injured when their plane explodes. Once she recovers enough physically (it takes much longer for her to recover emotionally), Bay sets up an inquiry agency and embarks on a series of cases. Bay is back in Canaan’s Gate, the tenth book in the series. She is newly married, grieving for her dad, and up to her lovely neck in a case with fatal consequences.
Cecelia Dobbs, a teller at a local bank, hires Bay’s inquiry agency to investigate a possible embezzling scheme. A very wealthy, elderly couple seems to be in the hooks of an unscrupulous care giver who has free access to their bank accounts. The teller cannot prove anything for certain so she cannot go to bank officials, but she worries the couple may be in danger. Before Bay’s investigation has time to turn up anything, the elderly woman dies under suspicious circumstances and her grandson comes to Bay with the same questions as the young teller. Then the Cecelia Dobbs goes missing. The case proceeds and becomes a knot of hidden identities, missing money, murder, and a twist that will place Bay in way over her head, so to speak.
As usual with Bay, there are personal situations that complicate everything. Everything is being played out on a current of grief for her father whose recent death has left Bay feeling rudderless and uncertain about the future. Red, Bay’s new husband and former brother-in-law, is now working for her agency and chaffing a bit under the yoke of working for his wife.  Just before he died, Bay promised her dad she would marry Red, but all her instincts are telling her she does not love Red the way she should. She is also trying to deal with the advent of her emotionally disturbed half-sister into her life. Then, Red makes a sudden announcement that could change everything in their relationship. As the intensity of the personal situations increase, so does the danger in the case. To top it off, there is a hurricane bearing down on Hilton Head.
Wall’s rich descriptions of Hilton Head and the low country continue in this book. So does her excellent development of characters and the secondary characters here are strong and meaningful to the story. More than most females around whom a mystery series is written, Bay seems real: her insecurities and questions give her a vulnerability that is appealing. The plot builds tension as does the personal issues until you are flung into a resolution that will surprise you.
Canaan’s Gate is top quality. Wall just gets better with each new entry into the series.

(Note:  One more book in the series has been published, Jericho Cay.  Ms. Wall's beloved husband passed away in November 2011 and there has been no word as to whether the series will continue. Our sympathies go out to her.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nevermore: Survival, Tattoos on the Heart, The Chosen, & Triangles

This week’s Nevermore Book Club had Jud’s answer to the old question, “What is the one book you would take with you if you were stranded on a desert island?”  He eschewed the usual responses—religious works, classics, etc.—and instead proposed what he feels to be the only rational choice:  The Complete Survival Manual by Michael S. Sweeney.  This National Geographic publication not only gives you tips for obtaining food, water, and shelter in a variety of environments, it has a selection of survivor stories to prove it can be done.
Another member recommended Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle as very inspirational and “one of the most uplifting books ever.”  Boyle is a Jesuit priest who has spent years working with gang members in Los Angeles, teaching not only values but job skills.  Heartbreaking, funny and even joyful, this is a book that, according to our readers,  offers “so much humanity.”
The Chosen by Chaim Potok was the pick of another club member who was taken with the lovely writing.  The novel is the story of two young Jewish men who are from different religious backgrounds:  one is Modern Orthodox, while the other is a Hasidic Jew.  They become friends, despite their differences, and find themselves on different paths in life.  The question of Zionism is important, but the themes of friendship and the father-son relationship give the book a universal appeal.
Writing style is one of the defining factors in Triangles by Ellen Hopkins.  Hopkins first made a name for herself by writing gritty YA novels in verse.  Adults soon discovered them as well and were drawn to both the style and the emotional power of the books.  Triangles  is her first novel for adults, and deals with three female friends whose lives seem about to unravel. Our reader found the verse style to be a bit disconcerting at first but feels it is very effective.

Extra Added Attraction:  Before the Nevermore Book Club met, the library hosted a breakfast with John Silvia of Wells Fargo and other area business leaders who discussed the economic outlook.  The program was fascinating and very well attended.  The Bristol Herald Courier article about the event is posted here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Books in 50 Words or Less: Grand Ole Opry

Star-crossed romances, murder,  and tragedy and aren’t just country songs:
they’re the lives of the singers.

Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain: 
 Tales of Tragedy and Romance
by Robert K. Oermann

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Inn at Boonsboro Trilogy by Nora Roberts

 Reviewed by Doris
One of the most prolific writers in the world, Roberts is called the “Queen of Romance” for good reason. Her books are vastly popular, filled with gorgeous men and women, sassy dialogue, and the fairy tale ending that romantics expect.  Often writing trilogies or quartets that involve sets of brothers, sisters, or friends, Roberts can lay out romantic settings and love stories with enough twists and turns to make even the most cynical of us go, “Awwwwww.”
Roberts has a new trilogy set in the town of Boonsboro, a real town in Maryland where Roberts lives. Inspired by a renovated inn owned by her husband and his family, Roberts details small town Boonsboro with all its best characters and small town quirks. Following her proven formula for success, Roberts writes about three brothers named Montgomery.  Ryder is the oldest, hardest on the outside and maybe even inside. Owen is the organizer who keeps everyone on schedule and holds a tight rein on the budget. Beckett is the architect and visionary for the family projects. Their mom is Justine who rules her boys with an iron glance and unconditional love.  She and Beckett are the ones who see a building and transform it into something very special. Center to their vision is the renovation of a derelict inn that anchors the main street and pre-dates the Civil War.
The Next Always is Book One and tells the story of youngest Montgomery brother Beckett and beautiful Clare. All through high school he had a crush on Clare, but Clare was in love with another guy. After her husband is killed in Afghanistan, Clare returns to Boonsboro with her two little boys and pregnant with her third. Beckett, who has always had a way with the ladies, finds himself totally tongue-tied around Clare but just as attracted to her as he was at fifteen.  Along with the developing friendship and trust between Beckett and Clare there is also the beginning of the renovation of the inn which becomes a central character in this trilogy. And, there is Lizzie. Lizzie is a ghost who haunts the inn and who seems to love the Montgomery boys.  Sweet, funny, tender, the love between Clare, Beckett, her boys, and the whole Montgomery family is delightful.
The Last Boyfriend is Book Two and this time it is middle brother Owen Montgomery and fiery Avery McTavish .  At six Owen gave Avery a Cracker Jack engagement ring and was her first boyfriend.  Both moved on to other relationships but always stayed close as friends. Now it seems they find themselves wondering what it would be like to take their friendship to a new level. While Book One laid down much of the ground work for the whole trilogy and introduced all the characters, this book looks at friendship and family. There’s the background story of Beckett’s and Clare’s wedding and the renovation of the inn. We also find out a bit more of Lizzie’s story and her love for her Billy for whom she is waiting. (There is a scene in this book that is priceless involving Owen and his mother that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.)
The Perfect Hope is Book Three and the story of oldest brother Ryder and Hope who has come to Boonsboro to be the innkeeper at the inn. Hope is best friends with Avery and Clare. She is also drop dead gorgeous, smart, and totally capable of holding her own with the often surly Ryder. From the first moment he met her, Ryder has been less than friendly to Hope who he thinks is just too perfect to be real.  Hope isn’t sure why he dislikes her so much, but she knows her heart stopped the first time she saw Ryder. Meanwhile the Inn at Boonsboro is thriving. Then, a past mistake turns up to haunt Hope which makes Ryder take a longer look at his innkeeper. Just maybe he has been all wrong about her. With a little help from friends, family, and Lizzie, Ryder and Hope will wrap up the love stories of Boonsboro.  (This book has not yet been released.)
* Roberts has used real businesses in Boonsboro for these stories. Avery’s pizza parlor - Vesta’s-is near the real Inn at Boonsboro as is Clare’s floral shop, the gift shop and the bookstore so detailed in the trilogy. Check out Roberts’ website at to visit Boonsboro and see the real Inn at Boonsboro and the town. By the way, each suite in the Inn is named after a happy, fictional couple such as Tatiana and Oberon, Jane and Rochester, Nick and Nora, Elizabeth and Darcy, and the décor is done accordingly—just as it is written in the trilogy.

As The Crow Flies: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson

Reviewed by Doris
This eighth book in the Longmire series just may be my favorite. I have enjoyed the evolution of Sheriff Longmire as a character and Johnson as a writer since the first book The Cold Dish. Johnson is a master story-teller pulling you into the setting and characters with his sense of plot, character, and timing. To paraphrase an old theatre cliché, “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to read it again.”
In two weeks Walt’s daughter Cady is getting married. Walt and his stoic Cheyenne buddy Henry Standing Bear are the de facto wedding planners and things are not going well.  Cady has her heart set on a particular location on the Cheyenne reservation for the wedding. All is fine until one contrary and scary librarian cancels the venue, and a new site must be found before Cady and mother-in-law-to-be Loretta Moretti arrive from Philadelphia. While checking out an alternative location Henry and Walt witness a young Cheyenne woman fall from the high cliffs to her death. Clutched in her arms is her six months old son.  Dog, Walt’s highly intelligent and loyal mutt, finds the baby alive. It is when Henry, Dog, and Walt rush the baby to the reservation hospital Walt finds himself under arrest by the new Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long.
Chief Long is a beautiful young woman but one with a massive chip on her shoulder.  Recently home from Iraq she has been appointed to a job in which she has no experience. The gut full of anger she is carrying and her inexperience are most likely going to get her killed unless someone takes her in hand and teaches her how to be a cop. True to his nature of not being able to walk away when someone needs his help, Walt reluctantly gets involved in the investigation.  Chief Long is just as reluctant to ask for Longmire’s help, but she knows she cannot do the job without it. Finally Long and Longmire settle down and we have an uneasy and often very funny relationship as old cop tries to teach young cop the ropes.
One strong element of the Longmire series has been Longmire’s acknowledgement of his aging and the limitations it places on his physical ability to do his job. He has made the shift to using his wisdom and knowledge of people, his understanding of how relationships work, and his powers of observation to give him the needed edge instead of just depending on being able to out run, out muscle, or  out gun the situation. Contrasting this with LoLo’s immediate and often over-the-top physical response provides much of the humor and some of the wisdom that comes as Walt tries to show Lolo how to control herself and a situation. I am looking forward to seeing much more of Lolo Long since it is apparent she and Sheriff Longmire have a great connection.
Usually I know who the killer is half way through a book, but Johnson got me on this one. It was not until close to the end that I saw what Walt had already figured out. Johnson’s plotting has always been well done, but this time he has stepped up his game and it plays well with the characters and setting creating a great read. I found the stories Walt tells Cady about his marriage to her mom Martha sweet and tender and very revealing. Of course after all is said and done, the wedding comes off beautifully, and the love between Walt and Cady is a beautiful offset to all the Longmire stories.
I particularly enjoyed not having to read about Victoria Moretti, Longmire’s undersheriff and love interest. She was in very little of the book which I consider a plus, and she already doesn’t like Lolo though she hasn’t even met her. I plan to be on Team Lolo. Many of the usual characters are in this book, and a few new ones are clearly defined and bring layers to the story. One segment of the book is an account of a peyote ceremony in which Walt participates and has a vision that reveals his inner nature and what drives him. It was fascinating and a pivotal moment.
A&E network is doing a Longmire TV series. The premiere was June 3 with more than four million viewers. Check it out on Sundays at 10 pm! The western setting and actor Robert Taylor appear to hold true to Johnson’s writing. 
Note:  Doris had previously reviewed the series here:  American Icon
The series books in order are:

  1. Cold Dish
  2. Death Without Country
  3. Kindness Goes Unpunished
  4. Another Man's Moccasins
  5. Dark Horse
  6. Junkyard Dogs
  7. Hell is Empty