I’m a big fan of Craig Johnson and the mythical Absaroka county in Wyoming that’s he’s created to house Sheriff Walt Longmire, his friends and family, and a cast of intriguing characters both on and off the reservation. Though I picture the actors from the USA/Netflix series in my mind as I read now, this latest book really cemented for me the divergence between the books and the series and that divergence involves two main female characters—Victoria Moretti, Walt’s Undersheriff and love interest, and Cady, Walt’s daughter. But let me backtrack for a minute.
In this latest novel, the mystery revolves around a valuable Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the murder of Danny Lone Elk, who owned the land where the remains were found. There’s a lot of money at stake and this means that the FBI, the press, and politicians get involved and get in the way of Walt’s investigation. Just to make matters more complicated, Walt’s daughter, Cady, and granddaughter are visiting from Philadelphia when they get terrible news. Cady’s husband, a cop who also happens to be Vic Moretti’s brother, is shot and killed and Cady’s visit is cut short. While Vic travels with Cady back East, Walt is forced to solve this case with the help of others including his long-time friend, Henry Standing Bear.
Though both Cady and Vic, the two most important women in Walt’s life, take a back seat to the mystery in this installment, they are much stronger characters in the book series. My sister had reminded me that Cady doesn’t have as much of role in the books as she does on TV and that is true. However, USA/Netflix series has turned Cady from an experienced and brilliant lawyer, who Longmire and Henry fondly call, “the greatest legal mind of our time,” to an aspiring attorney who doesn’t seem to realize that attorney-client privilege will apply when she takes a job at a slightly shady corporate firm. Though I love the casting of Katee Sackhoff as Vic, I wish she’d play Vic more like Starbuck (from Battlestar Galactica) since the Vic from the book is foul-mouthed, tough, and generally a smart-talking bad ass, who since about the third book in the series has been Walt’s love interest. The USA/Netflix series is on its fourth season (I’m only a few episodes in) and Walt and Vic are beginning to circle each other but nothing has happened. Sigh.
So, my advice . . . read the Craig Johnson books and imagine that the TV series takes place in some alternate universe where the colors aren’t quite as bright and Longmire’s women are not quite as interesting.