Publication Date: May 16, 2012
In As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire, a Wyoming lawman, witnesses a woman and baby falling from a cliff while scouting wedding locations for his daughter. It is immediately apparent to Walt that this accident isn’t what it seems, and he intends to find out what really happened, once the Native Sheriff, who seems to have him under permanent arrest, sets him free. He’s even willing to help her if she stops blustering long enough to listen to him. This is the eighth installment in the Walt Longmire series.
I have been mostly a fan of this series since the start. Normally, I would be talking about how well crafted the plotline was or how the mystery was so smoothly done or how irked out I am by the relationship between Walt and his deputy, Vic (a foul-mouthed, abrasive, inappropriately angry woman from Philadelphia who is, oh yes, a great deal younger than Walt. In fact, her brother is marrying Walt’s daughter). This review will not feature any of those expected elements.
One of my friends read the book before I did and commented that the Cheyenne Nation, Walt’s sidekick, is maybe a little wonderful in As the Crow Flies. I agree, but then he’s always a bit wonderful. My guess is that this is a character on whom Johnson has a bit of a man crush. I think Walt himself is perhaps more wonderful than usual in this novel. Taking an early example, when he goes up on the bluff from which the women fell with Lolo Long, he knows what sort of vehicle the suspected killer had driven, pointing out the sort of exhaust is had, he has the crime scene tagged in that first minute. Could he not have known less and the story still be believed?
On a positive note, Lolo Long and Vic were not in the same book. Had we read pages and pages of those characters, we would have been overloaded with a defensive female. I think it was a good move on Johnson’s part to leave Vic off avoiding her family, but a bad move to make Lolo so like Vic right down to Longmire’s lusting after the inappropriately young and out-of-context angry young woman. We do get insight into the character but what they do, to this reader, was hard to believe.
There were high points in As the Crow Flies. Walt attends a Peyote ceremony and the description of events is classic Craig Johnson — mystical and imbued with a sense of the absurd as we travel through Walt’s hallucinations. When he finally comes to the end of the experience and finds the vital clue we’re left to wonder if Walt did experience something beyond this world or if it was just the drugs talking.
At the end of the book, when one thinks about all that came before and the way the mystery is solved, the resolution just feels wrong. If you truly reflect on the story there are elements that simply don’t make sense.
I believe that As the Crow Flies was a filler to deal with the Cady storyline. She hasn’t been in the series much and this was going to be a big one with her getting married and perhaps some coming to terms between Walt and his daughter about how work always seemed more important to him than her. Johnson dealt with that aspect of the storyline beautifully. Dog is in rare form in this novel.
Longmire based on this series comes to A & E on June 3, 2012. It’s on at 10 p.m. in my part of Canada but check your local listings for more information. I watched the trailer and, while the actor is not my vision of Walt (too young and in shape), it does look like it will be a good show.
Read an excerpt and buy As the Crow Flies: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson on