Monday, September 06, 2021

An Obvious Fact - Craig Johnson


In what turned out to be one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments, one of my 2021reading goals was to catch up on some of the crime/detective series I love so much. Among those targeted was Craig Johnson’s (soon to be) seventeen-book Longmire series because I had already read fourteen of the sixteen so-far-published novels. So, now, after having just finished reading An Obvious Fact, the twelfth book in the series, I’m officially caught up until the September 21 publication of Daughter of the Morning Star. But I enjoyed An Obvious Fact so much, that I’m starting to second guess my decision to catch up on Longmire - or any of my other favorite series, for that matter. After all, it’s really kind of nice to know that any reading slump you might find yourself enduring can be quickly stopped in its tracks by picking up a book filled with characters and settings that you have already enjoyed so much. 


For a couple of reasons, An Obvious Fact is one of my favorite books in the whole series. First, it’s set in and around Sturgis during what is easily the largest motorcycle rally anywhere in the world every year, and second, both Vic Moretti, and especially Henry Standing Bear, play major roles in the action. That’s just about perfect because much of the fun of a Longmire novel comes from watching Walt interact with Vic and Henry over the course of an investigation, and this one offers that treat as much, if not more, than any other novel in the series. Walt and Henry have been friends almost their entire lives, but they now share a bond with ex-Philadelphia cop Vic that will last all of them the rest of their lives. 


Walt Longmire is sheriff in a spacious Wyoming county, but he doesn’t let county lines stop him from going after the bad guys. Not everyone welcomes Walt’s help, but this time around, he’s actually been asked to cross the state line into South Dakota to help investigate a hit and run accident that left a young biker in a coma. So Henry, a regular at the annual Sturgis rally, and Walt climb into Henry’s 1959 Thunderbird called Lola, hook up a trailer to carry Henry’s vintage Indian bike to the rally, and head to Sturgis, South Dakota. Henry even packs the three annotated volumes of Sherlock Holmes stories he’s recently borrowed from Walt, a decision that Walt will soon regret after Henry begins to pepper him with appropriate quotes from the stories at every new stage of their investigation. 


Craig Johnson is a master when it comes to inserting humor when you least expect it, such as when Walt and Henry find out that they were spotted entering a property during an illegal search they made:


Feeling relatively assured, I made the corner at the alley and walked directly into the extended barrel of an S&W .357 Magnum.


“I just wanted you to see how bad planning feels.” Engelhardt (a local cop) holstered his revolver. “Got a call about a half hour ago from Mrs. Hirsch, who lives across the way here. She’s got an irritable bladder condition and happened to see a large man walking on the roof of this building and another large man entering through the front door.”


“Here I thought we were being real stealthy.”


“Hard to sneak by an irritable bladder.”


“I’m going to have that needlepointed and put on my office wall.”


Bottom Line: The initial crime being investigated in An Obvious Fact leads to some unexpected places and some unexpected people, including the woman Henry was so struck by decades earlier that she became the namesake for his Thunderbird, and by extension, of Walt’s own granddaughter. There is a lot going on here: rival motorcycle gangs, ATF undercover agents, a rookie cop who finds the perfect mentor in Walt Longmire, an evil millionaire, drugs, and a little espionage thrown in as icing on the cake. It’s hard not to love this one.


Craig Johnson


12 comments:

  1. I love when an author can sustain a series over the years, and you love the 12th, or the 17th, book as much as the first, that says a lot! :)

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    1. Honestly, it took me about three books to really get into the series, Lark. By that point, I was in love with the setting and intrigued by Longmire and Henry Standing Bear. From that point on, I've loved them all.

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  2. I've read the first ten of these books, the last one being Any Other Name in 2019. We watched the tv series which I found to be significantly different from the books and not in a good way, but after that I just never went back to the books. One thing I most appreciated about the books was their sardonic humor.

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    1. The humor, especially the interplay between Henry and Walt, or Vic and Walt, is what I love most about these, too. I thought the TV series was pretty good by the end of the first season, but I agree that they are a little different than the books even when based on the actual plots. Vic, in the TV series, is a totally different person than the one described in the books...even to the point, I think, that Johnson started describing her differently in the later novels than he did in the early ones.

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  3. This book sounds great. I haven't read this series and it almost makes me want to jump in with this one, even though it is a later book.

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    1. Terra, it would help you enjoy them if you learn a little more about the longterm relationships between the main characters. But you could definitely enjoy this one if it's the first and only one you read.

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  4. This is one of my favorite books in the series, too. I remember laughing so hard in several places that Denis walked into the room and wanted to know what was so funny. When he learned what I was reading, he told me not to tell him because he was about to read the book himself.

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    1. The humor sometimes had me chuckling out loud at times...but I'm a terrible joke-teller, so I'm not even tempted to share them out loud. :-)

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  5. I want it. Craig Johnson always manages to keep all my senses satisfied. I only watched one episode of the tv series; it didn't match my imagination.

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    1. The later seasons of the TV series turn into a Wyoming soap opera, really. I watched all of them just to see how it would all turn out, but the books are so, so much better.

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  6. I have only read the first three in this series, and have the next three on my TBR. I need to get back to it. You are so right, the books are better than the series. We watched most of the series and it was good but not the same at all.

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    1. The best thing about the series was that it did a pretty good job of staying true to the way that the main characters relate to each other. But when it strayed too far from the book plots, it kind of went off the rails by morphing into a soap opera...an entertaining one, but stil a soap opera.

      I thought the books themselves really picked up about three or four in, but that might be just because I was so familiar with the characters by that point.

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