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Book review: <i>Dry Bones</i> by Craig Johnson

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the cover of the book

When the tiny county of Abrasoka erupts in a storm over a t-rex, Sherif Walt Longmire knows he's going to have a fight on his hands. With one suspicious death already muddying the waters, can Walt work out a tangled situation without further casualties?

The story

Walt and Vic respond to a callout on the Lone Elk property to find one of the Elder Lone Elks lying dead in a fishing hole. Death isn't the only thing happening on the Lone Elk land – the archeological discovery of the most complete t-rex skeleton in a rock formation – and the discovery is leading to all sorts of problems. The original discovery was made by archeologist Jen Watt, who was attempting to lead the excavation with the owner of the High Plains Dinosaur Museum, Dave Baumman. Dave and Jen paid the Lone Elks for the right to dig, but some members of the Lone Elk family have other ideas. And it isn't just an internal squabble. There are a lot on interested parties, and big archeological finds combined with public interest unfortunately equals the FBI and the acting deputy US attorney, keen for a photo op.

While Walt's trying to solve the death of Danny Lone Elk and stave off the political and press advances of the acting deputy US attorney, he's also trying to get ready for the arrival of his daughter Cady and granddaughter Lola. He also has to try and figure out the rightful owner of the t-rex, and what agreements have been reached. While he's working on all these, he's finding he's having disturbing visions of the dead man, telling him cryptic messages. Walt's worried, and it's affecting everything around him.

When Jen and Danny's nephew Taylor go missing, Walt suspects foul play. The conditions under which he's having to search aren't ideal, particularly when the helicopter he's in gets shot down. Can he find Jen and Taylor, solve Danny's death, and make sure the dinosaur ends up in the right hands?

The style

Classic Craig Johnson. Even taking into consideration the fact that Johnson is a veteran, Dry Bones is a particularly vivid read. The Wyoming setting is glorious on the Lone Elk property, I could see every nuance of the landscape and feel every needle-sharp spot of rain drilling into me. Walt has really grown on me as a character, and he continues to develop in every story. In Dry Bones, his strength as a person and difficult personality in the context of politics are what is emphasised, as well as his vulnerability where his family is involved and his brushes with the underworld. There wasn't quite as much Henry as I would have liked in this story, but you can't have it all.

I actually had no idea that the found so many dinosaur bones in middle America! To be honest, I'd never thought that closely about where one finds dinosaur bones exactly, but it was interesting to follow the process and frankly, I'd never really thought about what it would entail and who would have the rights. Not only have I never thought about it, I certainly found it to be an original book plot! There wasn't so much in the way of crime investigation in this full length Longmire, which I appreciated very much as an original plotline. I further appreciated the way the overarching plots from previous stories touched briefly into this one, adding to the impetus to keep on reading this series (not like I wouldn't anyway.) Another Longmire win, that's all I have to say on the matter.

Who is this book for?

Craig Johnson fans, and also if you liked the TV series, the books are SOOOO much better.

If you like this book, you would also like...

There's quite a bit more Craig, so unless you've been following from the very beginning, there'll definitely be something for you to go on with.


In short

Title: Dry Bones
Author: Craig Johnson
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 0525426930
Year published: 2015
Pages: 320
Genre(s): Crime fiction
Review Type: