The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire #1)

This was my first contemporary mystery and I couldn’t be more happy with this book.

Walt Lomgmire is the Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. 2 years ago 4 teenage boys were found guilty of raping a young Northern Cheyenne girl. But they were only given a suspended sentence. Fast forward to present day and one of those boys, Cody Pritchard, has just been found murdered. Walt is given the case and quickly finds out that the other boys lives might also be in danger. Given that there’s a rather big Indian presence in Absaroka County, the murder doesn’t really come as a surprise. It starts to look like a clear cut case, until the evidence starts pointing at other people. The case becomes more and more confusing the more ol’ Walt investigates. We’re taken on a truly awesome and tension packed ride as we try and figure out who is carrying out these murders before every one of these boys are picked off.

About 8 years ago I was really big into rodeo. Me and my buddy would travel out home state of Oklahoma and even go as far as Texas, Kansas, or Missouri if it meant we could get entered in and ride (we did saddle bronc, fyi). Wyoming was somewhere we always dreamed of going. So hearing that this is set in Wyoming piqued my interest. Johnson does such an amazing job of really bringing out the beauty of this gorgeous state through in his writing. We also get such a vivid picture of this small little town that I might just up and move there. I was so surprised at just how great he was at really making you feel like you were there. He also rivals GRRM with his love for making you super hungry through his descriptions of food. Seriously, I was constantly hungry throughout this book. I was so lucky I didn’t have food near me, or else I would’ve snacked the whole time.

The characters he has created were all so perfect for this book. I can’t think of a single character I disliked. Which is extremely rare. It’s also rare for me to like the main character more than the side characters. Walt Longmire is the kind of guy that’d be fun to just hang out with. Especially if his buddy Henry Standing Bear was with him to cook some of his delicious sounding meals!

The plot moves at a decent pace. There towards the end I did feel as if it could’ve ended sooner, but you quickly realize that Johnson made a sound decision for not ending it sooner. It just sets it up for a really great twist ending. And a very emotional one at that.

Now, as much as I absolutely loved this book, it definitely has it’s faults. Not many, but there are a few. Even though I understand why the ending was stretched out, I still felt the 75-85% (may not be super accurate, but my best estimation) section of the book could’ve been written a little bit better. This was a very small amount of the book, but I was definitely pretty bored for this part. Also, I could’ve done without all the food descriptions. It felt a bit much at times and made me way too hungry, but that’s more of a personal problem there. My last complaint was how just about every female character seems to just swoon over Walt. I can’t recall a single female that wasn’t in love with him. It was pretty eye-roley (is that a word?) at times.

Other than those rather petty complaints, I couldn’t have been more surprised at how much I loved this book. It had a plot that was well paced (for the most part), great characters, hilarious banter, Walt’s inner monologue was so great and funny, and so many twists and turns that I was dizzy and disoriented by the end. If you’re a fan of contemporary mysteries, or just mysteries in general, so yourself a favor and pick this series up.

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