I am still amazed by how much I enjoyed this book. My father had mentioned watching the TV series last year and recommended it so I started it on Netflix. Then, I saw this at the used bookstore and thought “why not?”
Walt Longmire is a long-time sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming. His best friend is Henry Standing Bear (a local Cheyenne Indian – apparently they prefer this to Native American.) Deputy Vic Moretti is a talented investigator with a potty mouth. Deputy Turk Connally is a know-it-all that gets under Walt’s skin. And, Deputy Ferg is on his way towards retirement. (There are way too many other colorful characters to list. All important but these play the primary roles.) When a convicted rapist is killed, Walt and his team have to determine if it was a hunting accident or murder. There were 3 others involved in the rape and all of them got off too easy by most accounts. Is someone settling debts?
OK…Let’s talk about the book first. A great story, wonderful character development (first novel?!?!?!) and beautiful descriptions of Wyoming. What is not to love? Johnson made me want to read more modern westerns. That is a feat in and of itself.
Because I’ve been watching the show at the same time, I can’t help but compare. Usually I am a “book is always better” person. And, while I LOVED the book, I think the show is equally great. Part of what works is they really knocked it out of the park with casting. Robert Taylor as Walt is pretty much brilliant. He captures the goodness and humor of this tough-as-nails older man. Katee Sackhoff plays Vic flawlessly with swagger and attitude that cover a softness that she doesn’t want the world to see. (There are some physical differences. Sackhoff is a blonde while book Vic is an Italian brunette but it just doesn’t matter.) Lou Diamond Phillips is Henry through and through. While watching the show I had noticed that he never uses contractions. This is consistent with the book and it is a good representation of his character. Precise and thoughtful yet ruthless when he needs to be. There are a few character differences. In the show, Branch, son of Barlow Connally, is a deputy who is running against Walt for sheriff. Barlow is a rich, not so nice man. In the book, Lucian Connally is Walt’s predecessor as sheriff. I think he will be revealed in the show to be Branch’s uncle (meaning Branch may be a version of Turk from the books.) And book Ferg is an older man while TV Ferg is a wet behind the ears deputy that needs to learn a few hard lessons.
Wow, that got very long-winded. Sorry about that but I just couldn’t help it. I think I’m in love with this series.
4.5/5 stars. Almost perfect but the ending felt a little rushed.