An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson

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An Obvious Fact is book #12 in the popular Walt Longmire series. Fans of the Netflix series will find the books that inspired the show to be quit different. No character more so, than Henry Standing Bear. In An Obvious Fact Henry steps forward as his past and present are strongly intertwined in a mystery of murder, guns and drugs and lost lovers. A mystery Sheriff Walt Longmire must solve even though it will open of the past of his oldest and best friend.

Sheriff Longmire is called to consult on a death in Hulett, Wyoming during the week of the biggest motorcycle rally in the world. In the shadow of the Devils Tower, Hulett is usually a very quiet little town. But during the week of the bike rally, it becomes a host to sex and violence and roaring engines. Longmire’s longtime friend Henry Standing Bear joins Walt on the trip. Standing Bear is determined to win back a trophy he once had from the group of riders.

Walt is asked to look into the accident of a young rider, who seemingly lost control of his vehicle on the remote roads. Longmire quickly has suspicions about the crash. He doubts that it was an accident and the entire mystery gets very complicated when the rider is found to be part of a biker gang. One that is being monitored by the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms. Not only that but the biker is the son of the woman Henry Standing Bear once had a love affair with. The woman he had named his ’59 Thunderbird after and who is the namesake of Walt’s granddaughter. The mysterious and seductive Lola.

In a time and place where no one is going to talk to anyone wearing a badge, Sheriff Longmire must wade through the distrust and shadows to come to the truth. As Sherlock Holmes is apt to say, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Fans of the Netflix series or not, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series should be required reading in American modern western literature. The insights into the plight of the tribes of the native american Indian in our modern era and the encroachment on the native lands by not only developers but the rich who want to play cowboy or rancher, would be eye opening that those who live on the east coast and the spoiled west.

Johnson has a firm handle on his main character and over the course of twelve novels we have seen Walt grow into the Sheriff we all have come to know and admire. When I read a Longmire novel I am reminded of the terminology of the Cowboy Poet. There is a great beauty to the land and the life he has chosen to lead. He is that hero who needs to set the world right. To battle against the injustice in our world and defend those who cannot defend themselves. But above all is his love of the law. The truth is his basic nature and from these tenants he shall not and cannot stray.

The supporting characters very often are as strong as Longmire is. Henry Standing Bear and Undersheriff Vic Moretti. Together they create the team that drives the Longmire series.

An Obvious Fact is a fine addition to this series as the initial mystery is one that at times gets lost in the greater picture of what is going on. But we return to the initial mystery and the obvious fact of what really happened on the dark road the night the young man crashed. An Obvious Fact we simply don’t want to accept.

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