c. 2018, Viking
$28 ($37 Canada)
292 pages

Never take “no” for an answer.

Persevere, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Work around roadblocks, try to find a way. There’s always another path to get what you want, so never take “no” for an answer — especially, as in the new novel “Depth of Winter” by Craig Johnson, the alternative is certain death.

The postcard said it all: “Come.”

It was a needless command; Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire would have “come” regardless of a pretty picture and a one-word scrawl: his long-time enemy, Tomás Bidarte, had killed Longmire’s son-in-law, had hurt Longmire’s wife, and now Bidarte had Longmire’s daughter, Cady.

To get her back, there was no way Longmire wouldn’t “come” to the mountains south of the border and though the Feds wanted to help, carefully and cautiously, there wasn’t time for that. No, he’d get Cady back himself, with help from people his friend, Buck Guzmán, trusted: a pink Caddy-driving man, a blind “seer,” a former doctor-turned-agent, and a woman the Mexicans called “The Skin Witch.”

He’d go … but getting there wouldn’t be easy.

Bidarte and his men had assumed control of a small, nearly-inaccessible village near old sulfur mines, reachable via a heavily-guarded road or by mule on a narrow trail over a steep peak. Either way, Longmire and his people could easily be spotted by Bidarte’s sharpshooters at several places along their route. If they made it to the village without getting killed, they’d be somewhat masked by the village’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, perhaps masked enough to find and save Cady.

But Bidarte was no fool, and his men knew that Longmire was nearby. Particularly murderous was Bidarte’s second-in-command, Culpepper, who possessed a good memory for faces and a cruel streak aimed right at Longmire — though the feeling was not mutual. Longmire was a sheriff, but he had personal standards. Unlike Bidarte’s men, he’d never been a killer for the sake of killing.

To get Cady back, though, he was willing to learn how to be …

It’s only a book. It’s only a book. It’s only a book.

Those are words to keep on your lips as you’re reading “Depth of Winter.” You’ll need them at every single twist and turn in this truly fine novel.

Open the cover and the action starts almost immediately when author Craig Johnson puts Longmire in the presence of a blind man who sees everything — a conundrum that works surprisingly well. From there, we’re incongruously taken in a pink Cadillac to violently dangerous situations that are faintly reminiscent of old-time westerns, and gunsmoke that happens to come from some very modern automatic rifles.

Indeed, that’s what makes this book so compelling: it’s a super-fast-paced updated throw-back kind of novel that will appeal to lovers of old-school oaters and thrillers alike.

It’s only a book. It’s only a book. It’s only a book.

Remember those words and find “Depth of Winter” if you want action, horses, deserts, and cutthroat cowpokes with AK47s. Really, would you want to miss a book like that?


WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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