cover image The Longmire Defense

The Longmire Defense

Craig Johnson. Viking, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593297-31-5

A standard rescue mission reopens an old mystery in Johnson’s standout 19th outing for Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire (after 2022’s Hell and Back). While responding to a 911 call from a woman lost in the mountains, Longmire spots a 1940s-era rifle stuffed among some nearby rocks. He retrieves it and confirms it’s the same type of weapon that killed Bill Sutherland, Wyoming’s state accountant, in 1948. Sutherland had been hunting elk with a party including Longmire’s grandfather, Lloyd, the state treasurer, the treasurer’s chief clerk, and hunting guide Clarence Standing Bear. Contemporary local reports speculated that Sutherland either took his own life or suffered an accident, but rumors spread that he was intentionally killed by someone he’d been hunting with—possibly Lloyd. Longmire’s discovery spurs him to try to close the cold case and, hopefully, exonerate his late grandfather. The whodunit, which presents a dizzying number of red herrings, is one of Johnson’s trickiest, keeping readers deliciously off-balance throughout. Series newcomers will have no problem jumping into the action, and longtime readers will relish the dive into Longmire’s family history. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman. (Sept.)