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Another Man's Moccasins
Series: Walt Longmire #4
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Christmas in Absaroka County, Dark Horse, Junkyard Dogs, Hell is Empty, As the Crow Flies, Spirit of Steamboat, A Serpent's Tooth, Any Other Name, Wait For Signs, Dry Bones, The Highwayman, "Eleven/Twenty-Nine", An Obvious Fact.
Fourth in the Walt Longmire mystery series revolving around a more-than-middle-aged sheriff in Durant, Wyoming. One who has a past. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Walt Longmire books on my website.
In 2009, Another Man’s Moccasins won the Spur Award for Best Western Short Novel and the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Association Book of the Year.
This particular tale is interspersed with flashbacks to a particular case Walt investigated in Vietnam, which provide a backdrop to both Walt’s and Henry’s experiences there as well as personalizing current day characters. Sad, wasteful times for so many. Wait until you read of Virgil’s misadventures… A few of Lucian’s reminiscences as a POW with the Japanese. Then there’s Project 100,00. Supposedly a social uplift program, but in truth, a euphemism for “you are our cannon fodder in Vietnam”. I can only hope Virgil’s lieutenant died horribly.
It’s a sad tale of prejudice and corruption in both times and sides, but along with that is a dogged desire for truth and good.
I love Henry and Walt’s relationship, and I do enjoy Johnson’s laidback style with his homey atmosphere. There’s a long-running history between these two, and they know each other so well. It’s one which bridges two cultures so beautifully. Shows us how much better we can be if we could simply accept each other, embrace each other’s backgrounds. Walt seems so much richer for his understanding of Henry’s beliefs. Of course, I do love the cracks Johnson makes at their expense…!
I also like how balanced Walt is. His care for what Virgil will want against what is safe for the citizens of Wyoming. Sure, he has the normal jealousies of any human being, but he’s also man enough to accept.
We never do learn why U.S. Marine PFC James Tuley was so important. Nor do I understand how, when it’s almost impossible to get a cellphone signal or WiFi, Ngo Loi Kim manages to send all those email messages from BPS. And what was Jamie Dunnigan doing at the ghost town at the end?
The murder of a Vietnamese girl causes Walt to have flashbacks to a drug running investigation he worked in Vietnam just before the Tet offensive.
Walt Longmire is still the sheriff in Absaroka County in Wyoming with an upcoming election; he’s also a very cheeky boy, just ask Ruby…when she comes to town. In Vietnam, he was a Marine investigator, a second lieutenant. He inherited Dog from Lucian. Henry Standing Bear is Walt’s best friend and very much a part of the family. In Vietnam, he was the Cheyenne Nation, RT ONe-Zero, Recon Team Wyoming and his own personal weapons cache, of just about everything possible. Babysan Quang Sang was Henry’s partner, a recon Montagnard, a tribal warrior despised by the Vietnamese.
Cady is Walt’s grown daughter, who is working very hard to come back from almost-fatal injuries in Kindness Goes Unpunished (3). Michael Moretti is Vic’s younger brother and a street cop in Philadelphia who fell in love with Cady when she was struck down and in a coma in Kindness Goes Unpunished. Lucian Connally was the sheriff before Walt. Now he lives in a retirement home and plays chess with Walt.
Victoria Moretti is Walt’s undersheriff with whom Walt had a very short affair in Philadelphia. Now he’s not sure where or what to do. Unlike Vic. She’s been out, well, out out-shooting the state competition.
Santiago “Sancho” Saizabitoria is married with a child on the way and not sure what to do or how to act on what he believes are Walt’s prejudices. Jim Ferguson is a part-time deputy. Chuck Frymire (yup, the department finally learns how to spell his name) and “Double Tough” Vandyke are a couple of Walt’s deputies. Ruby is the weekday dispatcher and department secretary. Rosey Wayman is “one of the few females in the Wyoming Highway Patrol”. Lieutenant Karl Cox is the HP division commander. T.J. Sherwin is “the chief forensic pathologist for Wyoming’s Division of Criminal Investigation”; Cathi and Chris are two of her EMTs.
James, he’s a wee bit daft, and Den (the mean one) Dunnigan are brothers and hardscrabble ranchers who find the body. Phillip Maynard is the new bartender at the Wild Bunch Bar.
Characters from the Vietnam War
Baranski is CID; Mendoza is part of the 377th. Mai Kim is a prostitute at the Boy-Howdy Beau-Coups Good Times Lounge outside Gate 055 outside the Hotel California. Hollywood Hoang is a Vietnamese flyer hooked into too many schemes. Dr. Quincy Morton is a corpsman whom Walt saved; today, he’s a stress disorder coordinator at the VA hospital in Sheridan. Tamblyn is his wife. Sergeant George Seton saved Walt’s life.
Vietnamese characters from today
Tran Van Tuyen claims to be both a motion picture distributor as well as the head of an organization helping half-and-half American and Vietnamese children find their fathers. During the war, he was a part of the Black Tigers and STRATA. Rene Philippe Paquet is said to be the now-deceased Ho Thi‘s husband. Ngo Loi Kim was a survivor of an abandoned produce truck smuggling women.
Minor characters in the story
Dorothy Caldwell runs the Busy Bee Café where Walt eats a lot of meals. Brandon White Buffalo, Virgil’s nephew, brings in Eli White Buffalo, Virgil’s son, who appears to hate his father for his disrespect for the Autumn Count. Virgil White Buffalo, a Kicked-in-the-Belly Crow, is one FBI with the most horrible past and some horrible losses. I know it’s a hopeless wish, and yet I can’t stop hoping that one day only those who are truly interested in helping will fill such positions of power. Nor will I ever understand simply wanting to close a case as opposed to finding the truth.
The Cover and Title
The cover is stark in its red background and smoking gun held in brown hands. A gun inscribed with “a novel” to remind us this is merely fiction, however, disturbing its contents.
The title adapts that phrase that reminds us that we cannot judge until we walk in Another Man’s Moccasins, and Henry reminds him that Virgil’s are not the first for Walt.