A Serpent's Tooth by Craig Johnson: A review

Time to check in once again on Sheriff Walt Longmire and the quirky residents of Absaroka County, Wyoming. This time there is definitely something rotten in the county but at first it is not clear just what it is.

The action kicks off with an old lady telling Walt about the angels that have been helping her out by doing repairs and chores around her house. It seems that she leaves out a list of the things she needs to have done and somehow they all get taken care of. She never sees any of the angels actually at work.

His curiosity awakened, Walt decides to investigate the miracle and discovers a teenage boy who is the actual angel in the flesh. Walt learns that he is a "lost boy" cast out from a cultish offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that has set up operation in his county. He puts the boy, named Cord, in a cell until he can contact Child Welfare and figure out what to do with him, then gets him a job at the local diner, washing dishes and generally helping out. But the boy keeps "escaping" and is soon joined by a ragamuffin old man who describes himself as Cord's bodyguard. 

As Walt continues to investigate and get further involved, he learns that the boy's mother (from the cult) has been looking for him. He also learns that she is actually originally from the county and her mother, from whom she is estranged, still lives there and runs a bookstore. When he tries to gain access to the cult's property in order to talk with the mother, he is denied entrance. With no probable cause, he has to engage in some roundabout investigatory methods to try to get at the answers to all the questions that have been raised in his mind. 

Meanwhile, some very nasty characters are crawling out from under the rocks turned over by Walt and his deputies, and Absaroka County is proving to be a very dangerous place for those deputies.

The best thing about these Walt Longmire books is that we get to experience them inside the quick and nimble mind of Walt. It's a mind that is marked by an affection for the unconventional and sometimes kooky and offbeat set of humanity that populates the county, the laws of which he is sworn to uphold. He has an open mind and heart toward these people and he prefers to just "let it be" and "live and let live" whenever possible. But he also has a keen sense of justice - and injustice - and he always tries to find a way to allow the better angels, even if they are just "lost boys," to triumph.

Longmire is quite simply a very humane and engaging character, always fun to read about.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  1. I agree with your last sentence. I like this detective too, though somehow I confused him with C.J. something's detective, I think. Do you know who am I talking about?

    1. C.J. Box. He has a mystery series set in Wyoming as well. It features a game warden. It's been quite a while since I read any of that series.

    2. Yes, the one featuring National Parks, I think. ;-)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

The Investigator by John Sandford: A review