Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson

Wait for Signs by Craig Johnson
From the publisher: Ten years ago, Craig Johnson wrote his first short story, the Hillerman Award–winning “Old Indian Trick.” This was one of the earliest appearances of the sheriff who would go on to star in Johnson’s bestselling, award-winning novels and the A&E hit series Longmire. Each Christmas Eve thereafter, fans rejoiced when Johnson sent out a new short story featuring an episode in Walt’s life that doesn’t appear in the novels; over the years, many have asked why they can’t buy the stories in book form.

Wait for Signs collects those beloved stories—and one entirely new story, “Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns”—for the very first time in a single volume, regular trade hardcover. With glimpses of Walt’s past from the incident in “Ministerial Aide,” when the sheriff is mistaken for a deity, to the hilarious “Messenger,” where the majority of the action takes place in a Port-A-Potty, Wait for Signs is a necessary addition to any Longmire fan’s shelf and a wonderful way to introduce new readers to the fictional world of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Wait for Signs, by Craig Johnson, is an excellent introduction to Sheriff Walt Longmire and the cast of characters living in Absaroka County, Wyoming.  Each of these twelve short stories, all but one originally written as a Christmas treat for Johnson's email list, is told from Walt's point of view, and gives a little glimpse into the man who is the law in Absaroka County.

The best parts of a Longmire story are the characterization and the setting.  Fictional Absaroka County is a vastly different place than the big city settings of many popular mystery series; this doesn't make it better or worse, just different.  It's a refreshing change to read about the wide-open spaces, small towns, and Indian reservations.  As for the characters, Walt Longmire is a complicated man with a very deeply held level of integrity. Walt always does what is right, but often does it in his own unique way.  Walt's best friend, Henry Standing Bear, is the perfect foil, while Longmire's daughter, Cady, also makes several appearances.  Sprinkled throughout the stories are other members of Longmire's cast of characters.  They combine to form a fine group, always interesting and each distinct in their own right.

While the mysteries in Wait for Signs are generally non-existent, the stories do serve as excellent slice-of-life pieces that fill in the blanks between the various Longmire novels.  Do yourself a favor and read this series; then check out the tv version, Longmire, and enjoy the visit to Absaroka County.

I received a preview copy of this book from Penguin Books First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

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