Book Review – The Cold Dish

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

I just read this book and loved it.

Sheriff Walt Longmire is a beautifully drawn character.   Longmire is a likeable, gruff and a very decent man who is just trying to do his job and hang out with his mate – Henry Standing Bear.  He is also a man just emerging from mourning the death of his long time wife and missing a daughter who works in Philadelphia.

The reader is drawn effortlessly into his world.  The author skillfully immerses the reader in the rhythms and mores of the West, smoothly integrating history and folklore into the evocative landscape of the Big Horn Mountains.  You can sometimes feel the wind and cold and taste the winter in your mouth as you read.  (Or I could just have a good imagination 🙂 )

Longmire’s small town enforcement duties are suddenly interrupted when a murder forces him to revisit an old case that had left a rather sour taste in his mouth. His search to find the murderer is a compelling story that both unravels a mystery and reflects Longmire’s inner struggles as he seeks to regain control of his life and maybe find a little justice along the way for everyone involved.

But, once you hit the middle of the story however, it does slow down and seems to get bogged in the nitty gritty of life in small outback regional centres.  It is probably amusing if you haven’t experienced this for yourself but for those of us that have, this just felt like padding to make a little time pass before the next break (or shot) in the case.  It did make me want to put the book down and wait until I was in a more suitable mood to want to read all the small town nuances.

However, I’m glad I pushed through with the book. Things really started coming together in the last third, but it’s more the land and the history of the place that brings the edge to the story and the writing. There are some really nice touches that echo the Old West and the supernatural without ever stepping over the line and becoming ‘cheesy’.  And there’s enough action and adventure to finish out the rest of the story nicely.

I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Westerns, Mysteries, well developed characters and language that is written well in the American vernacular.


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