Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Doggoneit by guest blogger Steven Head

It is June and that means the new installment, number six, of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series is out, Junkyard Dogs. As promised in the post last week, this book violates Bev's three rules on books she will read. There is a dog on the cover, it involves dogs, and the book leads off with a detailed description of the weather.

At a reading earlier this month Craig reported Junkyard Dogs had to be a "town book" since the last one took place away from the fictional town of Durant, Wyoming. As a town book Craig could respond to the reader complaints about not enough coverage of the supporting cast. Along with the surprise complaint that his furry friend, Dog, had been ignored entirely in The Dark Horse. Craig's new concern is readers will expect more involvement from his twelve cylinder truck.

As the title suggests, this book involves the junkyard, aka the Municipal Solid Waste Facility, and the grandson and grandfather operating it. During an especially bitter cold period, described in bone chilling detail, around Valentine's day, Walt is called out to an incident where Geo, the grandfather, has been dragged on a nylon rope behind a car driven by the grandson's wife. Fleshing out the details of how this ride on the ice came about is a case of slapstick meets stupidity. But it made me laugh out loud.

Around page 100 Geo, who has had other life threatening episodes since the opening scene, runs out of luck and is found dead in the junkyard. The adult son of Geo's age appropriate girlfriend is discovered in his car, drunk, in front of the Sheriff's office, confessing to the murder of Geo. Walt goes out to investigate at the son-girlfriends house, finds lots of blood, but the victim has walked away from the scene. Walt follows his tracks through the snow into the junkyard to find a dead Geo. The circumstances do not add up but son is incarcerated just the same.

Before this adventure is completed Walt stumbles upon a large scale pot growing operation, the incarcerated son escapes from jail and is found shot under circumstances almost as strange as Geo being dragged behind the car, and what appeared to be a throw away character plays a pivotal role. And do not let me forget to mention the quirky Valentine's Day dynamic between Walt and Deputy Victoria Moretti. Meaning it is both a mystery and a love story, sort of. Along with a bucket of subplots and supporting cast appearances for good measure.

I hope you are curious enough to want to read this book. Craig confessed at the reading he started out wanting to write a book about all the petty things that makes a law enforcement officers' lives crazy, but it ended up being more of a comedy than anything else.

Thanks Steve!

My search for a light, but satisfying summer read continues.
So far I have knocked off Bitter Sweet by LaVyrle Spencer. The author, so I am told, has a home in Door county, and the bulk of this book is set in and around Fish Creek. This lusty love story was fun the first time I read it, but, a horrible blizzard hits in the middle of the book, and goes on forever. Who need that.
Book #2... Lolita...not exactly light stuff, and certainly a bit twisted. Still not the perfect choice.
#3...Where is Joe Merchant by Jimmy Buffett...we're getting warmer. If you know me, you know that Jimmy can do no wrong (I have even managed to forgive him for his early country ditties.)
#4...Daphne Du Maurier's Echoes from the Macabre. I love short stories, and totally enjoyed Rebecca, so this collection had great potential. Just weird...demented little twins, turkey headed men...and those were in the first two stories. That is where I stopped.
#5...How about some Victoria Holt? Nothing beats a good Gothic romance. Oh, but...remember the great torrential rains two years ago that waterfalled right through my basement walls? My high school collection of Holt books turned to mush. I forgot all about that until, reaching out to the exact spot they had been shelved, I (GRRR) found that nasty DuMaurier paperback! So, I opted for one in a series I have been selling to heart-broken young ladies for a few years. Libba Bray is popular with the anti-Twilight crowd. It was OK; probably as good, if not better, than my memories of Holt's stricken, young heroines.
What's next? I have a copy of Jubilee staring at me. That's Margaret Walker's Civil War novel from the slaves perspective. This is another one I read in high school, so here's hoping if fares better that some of the others. Maybe I just don't do well with second readings.
My book groups is reading The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland. Se also wrote The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, which I enjoyed. Keep your fingers crossed.
*****On the Lakeshore...River Rendezvous was fun. Our occasional H-A-R pianist, Tim, was making some noise with a crazy band yesterday. I'm beginning to wonder - is Tim really as conservative as he would like us all to believe? More H-A-R friends, Juliet and Jen, orchestrated an art happening on Saturday. Jen read an original story, while everyone sort of floated around the designated space with bright mylar sheets. When eeryone was in position, we had become a giant pixel fish. I was a red fin! They put tons of work into it, and , frankly, I still don't know how it all worked, but it did. Watch for the posting on You tube and on Comcast.
I ended up at the Two Rivers Car Show by accident on Friday night. I spotted Judy, who heads the TR rec department, and has helped transition HAR to TR. I stopped to run a few ideas past her, and found myself walking with her through the park, since she was on duty. Another simple, homegrown festival.
If you missed these events, there are lots more coming up in Manitowoc and Two Rivers. Check them out.