Sunday, October 17, 2021

Daughter of the Morning Star - Craig Johnson


Daughter of the Morning Star
is the seventeenth novel in Craig Johnson’s popular Walt Longmire series. This time around, Walt and his often-deputized best friend Henry Standing Bear work a case that shines the spotlight on the real world reality that Native American women are being murdered at a rate ten times greater than the national average — and that Native women are not strangers to violence of any kind. As Johnson puts it in his introductory “Acknowledgments” section: “…four out of five Native women have experienced societal violence, with half having experienced sexual violence as well. Half of the Native women have been stalked in their lifetime, and they are two times as likely to experience violence and rape than their Anglo counterparts. Heartbreakingly, the majority of these Native women’s murders are by non-Natives on Native-owned land.”


“It is said that no tribe is truly defeated until the hearts of their women are on the ground — but what if there are no women at all?” - Lonnie Little Bird, friend of Sheriff Walt Longmire



The story begins when Tribal Police Chief Lolo Long asks Walt and Henry for help after her niece Jaya starts receiving written death threats. Jaya is the star player on her high school basketball team, and on the reservation that makes the teen a high profile superstar. Jaya Long is so good at basketball that she’s earned the nickname “Longbow” in honor of her ability to hit shots from all over the floor. Defiant by nature, Jaya knows that the death threats are no joke because her older sister, also a talented basketball player, disappeared a year earlier and has not been seen since. But Jaya is determined to live life her own way, and that is going to make it difficult for Walt and Henry to protect her while simultaneously trying to figure out what happened to the girl’s sister.


Chief Long knows Walt and Henry well; she knows that they get things done and that they don’t always play by the rules in the book. She is hoping that the two can stir things up so much, and so loudly, that the general public won’t be able to ignore what is happening to Native women any longer. Turns out, she is right about that, but it also turns out that Walt catches the attention of a mystical spirit, a soul-catcher of sorts, called the Éveohtsé-heómėse that holds on to the spirits of the dead who are not yet ready to move on to the next plane of existence, whatever that may be. So not only will Walt and Henry face-off against the usual suspects…a small group of racist white supremacists, jealous Natives, rival basketball fans…they will have to deal with a spirit that wants to walk away with their souls.


Bottom Line: Daughter of the Morning Star is another fun visit into Sheriff Walt Longmire’s world despite the fact that Walt is once again on the road. When that happens, some of the series side characters either fail to make an appearance at all or only pop into the picture for a moment or two. That’s what happens this time with Walt’s snarky undersheriff, and love interest, Vic Moretti and his daughter, Cady. Vic does manage to make a brief appearance or two on scene, but Cady’s appearances are even more limited. 


This story is not over because now Walt is as interested in Éveohtsé-heómėse as the spirit is in him, and he’s decided that it’s “impolite” to keep the spirit waiting any longer. I don’t know about you, but my money is on Walt.  

Craig Johnson

14 comments:

  1. Ooh...I really like the sound of this one, not only because of Jaya and the death threats, but because of that mystical spirit! Even though I haven't read any of Johnson's previous Longmire books, I might have to start with this one.

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    1. This one doesn't delve much into Walt's backstory, so it would probably work pretty well as a standalone now that I think about it. And from the way that this one ends, it really does sound like the next book is going to pick up where this one ended. Thankfully, though, it did not end on any kind of cliffhanger, sot that's fine with me.

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    2. Good. Cliffhanger endings are annoying.

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  2. This is another series that I read a few books in and then stopped. I read the first three and still have three in house to read. I know that they are very well written but for some reason haven't gotten back to them.

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    1. It took me a while to get into them, but once they finally clicked with me, and the characters started to feel more real, I became a big fan of the series. Now, I read all 17 of the books, and the novellas and short stories, and I am already looking forward to the next one.

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  3. I'm a card-carrying member of the Craig Johnson fan club. Have been since I first picked up The Cold Dish. There was a mix-up with my order of Daughter of the Morning Star but I've finally received it. Just as soon as I finish my sojourn in Maine, I'll be in Wyoming with Walt. Can't wait!

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    1. I know Craig Johnson is on quite a book tour in that part of the country these days, Cathy. It would be fun to run into him on one of his small bookstore stops up there rather than at one of the big book festivals someday. I share your enthusiasm for the books.

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    2. I met and spoken with him several times because he always stops at The Poisoned Pen on his book tours. If you ever get a chance to see him, do not miss it. He's a gem.

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  4. I gave up on Craig Johnson a while back when I was completely irritated by the Walt-Vic relationship. But this one sounds interesting. Anything that focuses attention on the abuse of Native American women and the unexplained disappearances of so many should get our attention. I'm adding it to my list.

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    1. I never thought about the relationship between Walt and Vic irritating some readers, but I can understand that now that I think about it.

      Johnson does a good job highlighting the problem that Native women are experiencing today by working in some statistics and reactions into conversations between his characters. Not at all heavy-handed about it, and that makes it all the easier to absorb.

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  5. I have not read Craig Johnson ... but it's good he highlights the violence to Native women ... I'm hoping all the exposure this past year or two will help reduce this horrific stat on these women. Their disappearances too in Canada have been alarming over the decades.

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    1. I hope so, too. I've just finished Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden that focuses on the same issues, and I think he does as good a job as Johnson in incorporating the problem in a novel set on and around a reservation.

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  6. I can't wait for this one! And I've gotten the audiobook of Winter Counts after reading your last review. :)

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    1. Fantastic, Jen. I will look forward to your review of both. Here's hoping that the narrator of Winter Counts works well, too, because that's so important in an audiobook, even one as good as this one.

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