This is a longer version of a review of THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson that I did for Amazon.com.
I don't read westerns, but I have become a fan of the TV show based on this book, and when it came up as a Kindle Daily Deal, I decided to try it. I make an attempt to watch some of the newer shows every season, and this is the season for the cable networks. Most of the new shows aren't out yet. They put the older ones on first and then their newer efforts, but Longmire, has been on for about 3 weeks now.
In my opinion, the book is as good, in its own way, as the TV show. I don't expect TV shows and the books they are based on to track in exactly the same way. What is interesting here is that the TV show is obviously based on the first book in the series although none of the plots so far have had anything to do with this book's plot. I will be able to enjoy the series and the books as separate efforts, although seeing the series did make me willing to try the book.
The main character is an older man, who has lost his wife, and is the sheriff of a county in the western part of the US. He has an interesting group of people working in the office and sharing the duties of discovering who killed one of the men who raped a young, disabled Indian girl several years earlier. The rapists got away with it with just a slap on the wrist because they were still minors. Longmire has interesting neighbors and friends.
The writer describes the sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal landscape this lawman works in very well. It becomes an important part of the world he lives in. You can see the space that surrounds him, and feel the oncoming winter. There is a great deal of snow in the air. There but not quite there yet. I've lived in an area where Fall is like that so it rang true that he was always aware of the weather that was coming on, and the fact that the first real storm of the season was likely just over the next hill, or in the dark cloud on the horizon, while desperately trying to hold onto the last warmth of Summer.
The countryside in the TV show is equally beautiful and bleak although so far Winter hasn't been almost a character in the story as it was in the book. The West really is beautiful and bleak all at the same time. And varied. I've lived in Arizona and in California. I've driven through some of the other Western states as well. There is something much rougher about the landscape in the west. And no two places were alike. Some of the most beautiful places on earth, and some of the ugliest. When I drove across country 8 years ago, arriving at the green of the Mid-West and East was almost a shock. When I flew over it 30 years ago, seeing water in a river was almost a shock. It was all that different.
Take care all.