This is the 4th Longmire book. Walt and the gang are back in Absaroka County and it’s business as usual. Cady is grudgingly doing her physical therapy while “plotting” with Henry about Walt and Walt is being charming with Ruby and awkward with Vic. Dog remains the best dog ever.
Then the Sheriff’s Department gets the call – there’s been a body dumped out by the side of the road; a young Vietnamese woman has been murdered. Walt is checking a large drainage culvert nearby when he is attacked by a huge Indian man – Frymire and Double Tough manage to pull the giant off him, but everyone is badly injured and the man is taken into custody. In spite of his injuries Walt doesn’t think this man killed the woman, a hunch he clings to after he finds out who the man is and what he’s been through.
They find the woman’s purse in the culvert near where the Indian was hiding out and inside is a photograph from 1968. It’s a picture of the piano at the Boy Howdy Beaucoups Good Times Lounge, a bar outside the base where Walt was stationed as a Marine Inspector during Vietnam. The woman leaning on the piano is a fifteen year old prostitute named Mai Kim, Walt’s only friend at the base. The man sitting on the piano bench is Walt.
I love that Johnson keeps mixing up the way he’s telling the stories. This book jumps back and forth between the murder investigation unfolding today in Absaroka County and the drugs investigation Walt was running at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base. It’s one of my favorite things to read, when authors go to the trouble of showing you characters instead of just telling you about them. There have been references to Walt’s time in Vietnam before, but it was great to have a whole book to explore it.
It was kind of heartbreaking too. Like all of the women in Walt’s life, i am in love with Henry Standing Bear. There were a few chapters back in Vietnam when Henry came to visit Walt and he’s so completely changed I spent the entire time on the verge of tears. I don’t know if even the battle scenes can capture the horror of that war the way that seeing what it did to Henry can. The battle scenes really were horrible though.
The mysteries were great, but what I really loved were the opportunities to see the two main characters forty years ago. This one was probably my favorite since The Cold Dish. I loved it.