Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Go Ahead, Blame Steve

If you stop by my house over the holiday weekend, I will graciously greet you at the font door, but you are not getting inside.  You can thank Nebraska Steve for that.  You see, he has been torturing me for several years with reference to Craig Johnson books, the Longmire series.  Then he began nagging about the Longmire series on A&E so I decided catching an episode or two of that would be less painful than reading what I pre-judged to be a half-baked mystery series with stock characters and predictable plots set on the edge of a Native American reservation.  

I'm well into the second season of the series now and am looking forward to the third. On Sunday, I cracked open my first Walt Longmire novel, The Cold Dish.  Granted, I was looking for an excuse to not clean, but this book pulled me in from the first page.  

Dust bunnies reside happily in corners, HAR scrapbooks are piled high  to be riffled through for historical articles and pictures, magazines remain in stacks to be sorted, tossed or re-assigned to another reader, two half painted signs for the store wait for finishing touches on the dining room table. That is just the beginning of the chaos that will keep you visiting on my front porch if you drop by.  Again, you can thank Steve for that.

Now about the book - I have a little literary crush on Walt Longmire. Come on, who doesn't have one of those?  My friend Valerie thinks that 80-year old Major Pettigrew (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand) is sexy, and I know you have a book crush, too.  Walt's an earthy, common sense kind of guy, and he reads people well.  He's scrupled and fair and he has a wicked sense of humor.  

Admittedly, I have been a cowboy fan since Sky King rode across the skies.  Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger were also favorites of mine growing up, and "Talent round-Up Day" was my favorite theme day on The Mickey Mouse Club.  Cold Dish starts fast with the discovery of a body.  The victim is tied to another crime and this appears to be a revenge killing.  That's about as predictable as it gets.  Intertwined, and well constructed characters, enter the story randomly, leading me in new directions.  It is clear who will be the leads throughout the series.  I like them all and so I am afraid I am committed to another Longmire book after this one.

Johnson is a no nonsense writer, except for an occasional simile for which I will forgive.  I hate similes.  I am a fan of the metaphor, personally.  His clean, direct style supports Walt's solid persona, and the story arc ebbs and flows bringing in just enough personal info on Walt and his companions along with Native American culture and lore to keep the mystery itself from growing stale.  All in all, a masterfully crafted mystery.


Here's my rant for the week....Let me begin by saying that most self published authors are excited to talk with me and are grateful to see their books on our shelves.  But I ran into one who wasn't.  He put together a nice looking non-fiction book, well written, well organized, great pictures.  I agreed to start out with five on consignment.  I could tell he was disappointed that I didn't want cases of them, but five is always where I begin.  We signed the contract, and his parting words were "Five is good for you, Bev.  I'll make my real money at B&N and on Amazon.  None of you small stores are going to last much loner anyway."  I was floored that he was so rude to someone from whom he had just asked a favor.  I tried hard to think of a cheeky comment to finish off this rant, but can't come up with one.  The "writer's " comment will have to stand on its own.

All in all, it was a good reminder to me to try to be less caustic.  Had I been heeding those words I wouldn't have shared that last story now would I?

Thanks for stopping by.

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