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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

I’ll admit that I’m addicted to crime shows. They make up the majority of the shows I watch; I’ve gotten fairly good at predicting whodunit. Last summer, I began to see previews for a new show on A&E.

The show seemed to take a typical crime show and place it against a new background, the wide open plains and craggy mountain ranges of Wyoming. I was definitely interested in a Western crime show; who doesn’t love a craggy Tommy Lee Jones look-alike standing over a body, hands on his hips, growling out orders to deputies and peering out from under a cowboy hat. 

“Longmire,” is now in the middle of its second season. I was thrilled to learn the show was based on series of books by Craig Johnson. So, up for review this week is the first book in the series and the basis for the season one finale, “The Cold Dish.”

The series is from the point of view Sheriff Walt Longmire, the main character around which everyone else revolves. Walt is the Sheriff of Absaroka County, a small county that surprisingly enough seems to have a lot of murders. There is a Cheyenne reservation nearby and there is a lot of interaction with its residents.

The Walt in the book is a little different from the T.V. Walt. Both share dry humor, reticence and a sense of duty but the Walt from the book is more light-hearted and a little goofier. He makes mistakes but the T.V. Walt is a cool customer; he never slips up and has a steely glare that will silence the most talkative suspect.

“The Cold Dish,” is centered on that dish best served cold, revenge. Two years before the events in the book a Cheyenne girl, Melissa Little Bird, is found assaulted and beaten. The assailants are four local high school boys who lured her into a basement. The problem is Melissa has fetal alcohol syndrome; she wasn’t considered a reliable witness to her own assault and didn’t even want to report the incident. Although it was generally known that the four boys did it, they were let off much to the outrage of the Cheyenne people and many others in the county. Now, the boys are being picked off one by one and Walt has to find out who is hunting them down.

The show perfectly captures the small town feel of the Longmire series. Everybody knows everybody else and Walt knows just how to handle every single person. My favorite character by far is Walt’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear. Henry is a Cheyenne and Walt’s oldest friend and sometimes accompanies him on investigations. He is portrayed by Lou Diamond Phillips on the T.V. show. The book Henry is more macho.

I would always say, read the book before watching the movie or T.V. show. But in this case, I would say pick either one. The T.V. show captures the important parts of the book and you can actually see the beautiful rolling landscapes of the West.  If you find yourself hooked, never fear. There are ten books in the series, two of which have not been released yet.

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