cover image Next to Last Stand

Next to Last Stand

Craig Johnson. Viking, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-52253-9

A real-life painting, Cassilly Adams’s Custer’s Last Fight, which was reproduced in the millions in the late 19th century and destroyed in a fire at Fort Bliss, Tex., in 1946, provides the backdrop for bestseller Johnson’s intriguing 16th novel featuring Absaroka County, Wyo., sheriff Walt Longmire (after 2019’s Land of Wolves). When Charley Lee Stillwater, a friend of Walt’s, dies of a heart attack at the Veterans’ Home of Wyoming, $1 million in cash and what appears to be an artist’s study for a portion of the Custer painting turn up in the retired army veteran’s room. Walt sets out to authenticate the partial painting—and to determine the source of the cash. The stakes rise when someone steals the artwork after knocking out the museum curator who was about to examine it. More than one murder follows. At the exciting climax, Walt coolly estimates the number of stitches in his scalp he’s going to need after being shot by the surprising culprit he’s closing in on. Vietnam War vet Walt shows few signs of age in this consistently entertaining series. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Sept.)