The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson

ColdDishWalt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

I admit that this series probably never would have made it on my reading radar if I hadn’t first watched the series on TV. I also have to admit that I never would have considered watching the series if a group of people I follow on line hadn’t talked about NF picking up the series after A&E network dropped it. The fact that I immediately searched out the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson after I ran out of episodes to watch should tell you something. 😉 I’m going to mention the similarities and differences between the two later in the review, don’t worry.

Walt Longmire is not your average literary hero… well, actually, he is average. He’s handsome in a rugged way. He’s over 50 and he’s described more than once as being out of shape. He’s been mourning the loss of his wife long enough in his friends’ opinion, which reinforces the fact that he’s surrounded by people who care about him as much as he cares about them. He’s honest, loyal, well educated, has a strong sense of honor… basically he’s one of the most ‘real’ characters I’ve read in a long time. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was his inner dialogue. I loved it. His thoughts are easy and honest and yes, he tends to ramble, but that keeps it entertaining.

The Cold Dish takes Walt back to a case that has haunted him for a couple of years. Sometimes justice isn’t exactly fair and the punishment comes no where near fitting the crime. That was how most people felt about the boys involved in the rape case. That fact made finding a likely suspect in the death of one of the defendants almost impossible to narrow down. There were a lot of people who could have decided to become a vigilante and not blink an eye. That also meant that Walt probably knew the killer, which made his job even harder.

With the help of his best friend Henry and his staff he goes about the task of finding the killer before the next boy is killed. The story has lots of twists and turns and seems to take them a couple of steps back with every new clue they find. I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed. It might have been because I was so caught up in the story, but I think it had more to do with the writing being so good.

Beyond the good story there was a lot of witty dialogue. There are a lot of conversations between Henry and Walt. Some serious, some comical. This one was one of my favorites…

I looked past Henry in disbelief as he turned to hand me the rifle. “If you do not shoot him, I will.”
“We don’t have any bullets, or I would seriously consider it.” He laughed and pulled a gleaming .45-70 from his shirt pocket and held it up. “Where did you get that?”
“Off your desk, where do you think?”
I pulled the handle and opened my door. “We’re trying to keep somebody from shooting him.”
He stated out the other side. “I am beginning to question the logic in that.”

Which brings me to my comparison between the books and the TV series. Honestly, I love them both. There are characters that are in both. Some are similar and some have been changed slightly to fit the TV series. The descriptions of the characters aren’t quite the same in some instances, but that didn’t bother me at all. I will admit that even though I liked Craig Johnson’s descriptions, I found myself picturing the TV characters in my head as I read the book. What can I say, I was introduced to them first. 🙂 One thing that bothers me in reading written dialogue on a regular basis is the lack of contractions. It just seems so formal in normal conversation to not use them. In a strange way Henry’s lack of contraction use made me smile. Not only did Walt mention the fact but that’s exactly how the character on the TV series talks as well. There’s also a strong spiritual aspect that I enjoy in both the book and the TV series. Sometimes familiarity is a good thing. As far as the story line goes, at least for the first book, you may think you know how the story’s going to pan out if you’ve watched the series, but the book takes a totally different slant, which I enjoyed. It kept me on my toes and it allows me to watch and read and not have either outcome spoiled. It’s the little things really. 😉

So, my obvious advice to those of you who have either watched or read about Walt Longmire, treat yourself to both. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I find a show I like, I have no problem telling people about it. Reading the book is a no brainer. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series.



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