A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson
Review: An unlikely romance that may have been the motive for murder, a bumper crop of marijuana growing in a hidden tunnel, and a severed thumb are just a few of the things Sheriff Walt Longmire has to deal with in Junkyard Dogs, the sixth mystery in this series by Craig Johnson.
Geo Stewart, a "ball of tendons and stringy muscle, tanned by the scorching Wyoming summers and freeze-dried by the the winters into a living jerky", and owner of the local junkyard, seems to be a man with nine lives. After being knocked out with a golf club by Ozzie Dobbs — who had just found out his mother was having an affair with old man — Geo stumbles back to the junkyard only to die of an apparent heart attack. But the coroner finds two puncture wounds on Geo's body that suggests he was killed by another, more subtle means. Meanwhile, Geo's grandson Duane has taken up the horticultural art of growing high quality, industrial strength cannabis. As Walt's deputy puts it after they nab him, Duane isn't "smart enough to tip cows" so there's no way he could be running such a sophisticated operation on his own. After Duane escapes and is later found with a bullet in his chest, Walt agrees something far more sinister is at work in his small town. And it may have something to do with that pinched off thumb.
Junkyard Dogs is quite deceptive in its pacing. What at first may appear to be a leisurely whodunit-style mystery with more than its fair share of quirky characters, rapidly (and somewhat unexpectedly) evolves into a first-rate thriller. Or, as Walt might say, "a respectable amount of time" passes where little of substance seems to happen … then everything starts to converge at once. Walt's encounter with the junkyard dog towards the end, for example, is a riveting scene, pulse-pounding narrative at its very finest. And though there's a hint of romance and a touch of comic relief throughout, none of it distracting, genre fans will likely remember Junkyard Dogs as one of the year's best conceived and written, most entertaining mysteries.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Junkyard Dogs for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Hell Is Empty
Viking (Hardcover), June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780670022779; ISBN-10: 0670022772
Location(s) referenced in Junkyard Dogs: Wyoming
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Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson — A Walt Longmire Mystery
Publication Date: May 2010
List Price: $25.95