Dry Bones

Craig Johnson. Viking, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-42693-6

At the start of bestseller Johnson’s intricately plotted 11th Walt Longmire novel (after 2014’s Any Other Name), the Wyoming sheriff helps pull the corpse of Danny Lone Elk, a Cheyenne rancher, from a turtle pond on his ranch. Did Danny die of natural or unnatural causes? Walt soon suspects murder, given the uproar that arises over the recent discovery by local paleontologists of a nearly complete T. rex skeleton—nicknamed Jen after the scientist who unearthed her—on Danny’s property. A fight brews among the U.S. government, Absaroka County’s own High Plains Dinosaur Museum, and the Lone Elk family, who claim that Jen belongs to the Cheyenne tribe. Meanwhile, Walt (who is white) is hit with an unexpected personal loss (“It just seems like I made this deal with the universe to serve and protect, and in return, little by little, I get everything I care about taken away from me”). This steadfast character never disappoints the reader: he’s a hero through thick and thin. [em]Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (May) [/em]