Spirit of Steamboat started out as one of Johnson’s free Christmas short stories that he offers to fans each year. As sometimes happens, it grew larger and turned into a nice sized novella.
A car accident has killed several members of a family and a little girl is critically injured. The medics need to get her to Denver for treatment or she will die. Due to blizzard conditions the roads are impassable and a medi-vac helicopter flight is out of the question. Newly elected sheriff, Walt Longmire, refuses to accept that there is no way to save this little girl so he comes up with a hare-brained scheme that involves Lucian Connelly as pilot, a reluctant co-pilot – Julie, Isaac Bloomfield as medic and an old B-25 bomber nicknamed Steamboat.
I usually prefer my Longmire stories to be heavy on Henry, my favorite character. But this one only mentions him a few times and that was just fine. There is so much action and emotion packed into 146 pages that you don’t miss the regular secondary characters. We get to see a younger version of Walt and Lucian which is always fun. But, what drives this story is the reminder that while the two men are very different, they share a few important characteristics – stubbornness and an unwillingness to give up. They fight the elements, naysayers and each other to try to save this little girl.
It’s a wonderful Christmas story and I loved it. 5/5 stars.