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As the Crow Flies: A Longmire Mystery (Anglais) Broché – 28 mai 2013
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As my good friend Henry Standing Bear says, on the Rez, even the roads are red.
I was trying to pay attention, but I kept being distracted by the crows plying the thermals of the high plains sky; it was raining in the distance, but the sun appeared to be overtaking the clouds—a sharp contrast of blue and charcoal that my mother used to say was caused by the devil beating his wife.
“She must’ve stolen the cash register.”
My attention was forced back inside and under cover, and I twisted the ring on my pinkie. My wife, Martha, had given it back to me before she died so that I could give it to Cady whenever she got married.
I looked up—the negotiations weren’t going well. It would appear that Dull Knife College had suddenly scheduled a Cheyenne language immersion class at Crazy Head Springs on the day of the wedding. We had reserved the spot well in advance, but the vagaries of the tribal council were well known and now we were floundering. The old Indian across from me nodded his head in all seriousness. I was negotiating with the chief of the Northern Cheyenne nation, and he was one tough customer.
“That librarian over at the college is mean. I don’t like to mess with her; she’s got that Indian Alzheimer’s. Um hmm, yes, it is so.”
I trailed my eyes from Lonnie Little Bird to the rain-slick surface of the asphalt—Lame Deer’s main street being washed clean of all our sins. “What’s that mean, Lonnie?”
“That’s where you forget everything but the grudges.”
I smiled in spite of myself and took a deep breath, slowly letting the air out to calm my nerves, as I continued to twirl the ring on my finger. “Cady’s really got her heart set on Crazy Head
Springs, Lonnie, and it’s way too late to change the date from the end of July.”
He glanced out the window, his dark eyes following my gray ones. “Maybe you should go talk to that librarian over at the college. You’re a large man—she’ll listen to you. You could show her your gun.” He glanced down at the red and black chief’s blanket that covered his wheelchair. “She don’t pay no attention to an old, legless Indian.”
Henry Standing Bear, my daughter’s wedding planner, who had made the arrangements that were now being rapidly unraveled, sipped his coffee and quietly listened.
“But you’re the chief, Lonnie.”
“Oh, you know that don’t mean much unless somebody wants a government contract for beef or needs a ribbon cut.”
Up until this year, Lonnie’s official contribution to the tribal government had been limited to falling asleep in council. A month ago, when the previous tribal leader had been found guilty of siphoning off money to a private account belonging to his daughter, an emergency meeting had been held; since Lonnie had again fallen asleep, and therefore was unable to defend himself, he was unanimously voted in as the new chief.
“She’s in charge of all the books over there and she’s full blood—that’s pretty much the worst of both worlds.”
Revue de presse
“A top-notch tale of complex emotions and misguided treachery… Crow is a superb novel steeped in the culture of the American West.”—USA Today
“The pleasure of the series rests in Walt’s narration, with its laid-back, observant, bemused recounting of events…Solid landscapes, a mélange of fully fleshed characters (familiar and new), drily laconic dialogue and assorted power struggles—including Walt’s endless war with Rezdawg, Henry’s recalcitrant, falling-apart truck—keep the latest in this rich and satisfying series on engaging course.”—Houston Chronicle
“Walt’s voice lets readers in on his gentle and wry nature, while showcasing his devotion to bringing bad guys or gals to justice…Johnson enriches his narrative by using the setting itself as another well-developed character. Johnson’s Northern Cheyenne characters defy stereotype with self-depreciating humor and strength. Chief Lolo Long and Tribal Chief Lonnie Little Bird are especially well-crafted and appealing.”—The Denver Post
“Johnson expertly highlights his conflicted hero’s dual role as father and sheriff in this deeply satisfying installment.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“All the elements his fans love are present: lively characters, easy banter, and, of course, a touch of the supernatural. In early books, Walt was less sure of himself, but, in his eighth adventure, it makes sense that he’s now the one “giving sheriff lessons.” This book fits the hand like a well-worn glove.”—Booklist
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While floundering around in the wedding preparations, he and his good friend, Henry Standing Bear witness a young indian mother fall off a cliff while clutching her baby. The baby survives but the mother is dead and and Walt is draw into assisting the young woman who has been named tribal chief of police in solving the murder. How he goes about this while trying to juggle it with the upcoming marriage results in the best Longmire book I've read so far. My only criticism is that I found the denouement a little too obvious.
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I like the fact that Walt has a sense of humor. In As the Crow Flies, Walt is sitting by a man who gets shot in the mouth by a bartender and sees, “ blood, tissue, and teeth scattering…onto the table.” When Lucian, an old coot who was sheriff before Walt, asks Walt how the guy is doing, he responds, “Alive, but he’s going to need some dental work.” He’s also smart quoting Shakespeare, explaining the caste system of India, and is an encyclopedia on the history of the old west. As Lucian says, “Better than a bookmobile.” The thing I don’t like about Walt, but I’m sure some would call it heroic, is that he is tenacious to a fault. Once he starts a case, he finishes it no matter whether his daughter is getting married or she’s having a baby.
If you want a break from all of these high tech procedurals and from big city soot and crime, pop the top of a Rainer beer, Walt’s favorite, sit in front of a roaring fire and read away. You might even want to buy a pair of new boots…To save you time, here is a list of Johnson’s books in order. It does help to read them in order. There is some sequence plotting…Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man’s Mocassins, The Dark Horse, Junkyard Dogs, Hell is Empty, Divorce Horse, As the Crow Flies, Christmas in Absaroka County, Messenger, A Serpent’s Tooth, The Steamboat, Any Other Name, Dry Bones.
Unfortunately, while scouting a promising site, Henry and Walt are witness to a Crow indian woman plunging to her death from a high cliff. Was it suicide? Was she pushed? Or was it a tragic accidental fall? (I’m going to forgive author Craig Johnson at this point for a terrible pun in the title on flying crows.)
Walt is first on the scene to examine the body but is soon joined in his investigation by the FBI and a new police chief on the Cheyenne reservation whose name is Lolo Long. Lolo has just returned from a duty tour in Iraq as a medic and has an attitude as big as Wyoming. Walt adopts a conciliatory and professional relationship with Lolo as her mentor and she ratchets down her attitude to cooperate and learn.
The book takes a brief side excursion into indian mysticism as Walt accepts an invitation for a peyote smoke with several older gentlemen. Along the way, he has a conversation with a bear and one with a sassy crow who sounds a lot like undersheriff Vic Moretti. It’s not totally without value because he does get some good ideas from the crow that will help him later solve the crime.
But what about the wedding? Does Cady get hitched? You’ll have to read the epilogue to find out and I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.
On the show, Zahn McClarnon plays Mathias, the Cheyenne reservation Chief of Indian Tribal Police. I personally like McClarnon, he chooses a lot of troubled roles so I immediately began imagining Mathias as a troubled individual with a backstory I ain't been told yet.
But in the book, the tribal police chief is Lolo Long. She - yes, she - is an Iraq-veteran and new to the job.
(If Lolo hadn't been such a firecracker, I probably would have continued to plug Zahn into the role during my imaginations of the reading. Her chip-on-the-shoulder attitude made such a presence that I wasn't able to swap them out, which is probably good because it's easier to keep the books separate from the show when I don't do stuff like that.)
Lolo's a Lady Asskicker, probably the only female in Absaroka County who can go head-to-head with Vic Moretti and it will be interesting to see how these two get along in future books (because Vic stays in the background of this book).
But, for now, Lolo's lack of experience spurs Walt into sojourning to the Cheyenne Reservation where he partners up with Lolo to show her the ropes as they try to figure out why a Cheyenne woman would take a plunge over a cliff with her baby in her arms, only to use her body in a way that saves the baby. Of course, it's murder. I guessed bits and pieces of the case but wasn't able to piece everything together until Walt did.
One of my favorite things about this series: I love how personal relationships are drawn out over several books, making only brief appearances in each book. It prevents over-kill and this series, taken as a whole, is a superb example of how romances should be done.