Monday, October 5, 2009
A modern day "Gunsmoke"
In the firth book with Walt Longmire as the protagonist, Walt is asked to house Mary Barsad in his jail to await her trial. She confessed to killing her husband, Wade, after he set fire to the family barn with Mary's horses inside.
This wonderful tale reminds me of the TV shows of the past.
At one point Walt is challenged to a fight in the town saloon, by an intoxicated moose of a man. I can picture this happening in an episode of Gunsmoke and Marshall Dillon disposing of the drunk.
Something in Walt's policeman's gut tells him that Mary's confession isn't right. She just doesn't have the outward manifestation of a killer. Walt decides to investigate, although the crime was not in his jurisdiction. He feels that he has to do the right thing. At one point he tells Mary, "It's important to me because I believe you're innocent and I've spent most of my life defending and protecting the innocent."
Walt poses as an insurance investigator and travels to the county where the murder took place. He deals with an interesting group of characters such as Hershel Vanskike, the ranch hand, and Cliff Clay, the apparent drunken bully.
Johnson has done a wonderful job with the story. His descriptions of the Wyoming setting leave the reader with a vivid photo of where the action is happening. Walt is a knowledgeable, kindly figure with a strong sense of duty. Mary is a bit too passive but that seems in order with what just happened to her. There is an excellent plot twist toward the conclusion that makes the book more memorable.
Don't miss this one.