The Western Star

Craig Johnson takes readers on a gripping rail journey into his Wyoming sheriff's past for the 13th novel of the Walt Longmire series (after An Obvious Fact). A photograph of 24 sheriffs--and one deputy--in front of a locomotive triggers a dark memory for Walt. As the lone deputy, he accompanied then-sheriff Lucian Connelly for the 1972 Wyoming Sheriff's Association junket aboard the train The Western Star. The itinerary took the passenger puller from Cheyenne to Evanston and back--but not everyone returned alive.

The decades-old image kindles Walt's memory, and the flames are stoked by a parole hearing in Cheyenne, for which he's en route. Usually just a required formality resulting in denial of parole, Walt attends to fulfill a promise. So word that the mysterious convict's attorneys are petitioning for compassionate release douses Walt's memory fire with lighter fluid.

Offering glimpses of Walt's relationship with his late wife, Martha, and the onset of his career in Absaroka County, The Western Star peels back complex layers that define the beloved sheriff. Series devotees will delight in new pieces to Walt's puzzle while those discovering the series should easily jump right into the man's life. At a baker's dozen of Longmire novels, Johnson shows no signs of skimping on quality. The Western Star combines a thrilling plot, colorful characters, exceptional dialogue and, of course, Johnson's signature humor. Johnson even includes a clever literary tie-in with Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.

All aboard! The Longmire train is in the station, and you don't want to miss this one. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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