Book Review: Craig Johnson’s As the Crow Flies

Posted July 10, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Craig Johnson’s As the Crow Flies

As the Crow Flies


Craig Johnson

It is part of the Walt Longmire #8 series and is a mystery that was published by Viking Adult on May 15, 2012 and has 308 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include Wait For Signs

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include The Cold Dish, Death Without Company, Kindness Goes Unpunished, Another Man's Moccasins, Christmas in Absaroka County, Dark Horse, Junkyard Dogs, Hell is Empty, Spirit of Steamboat, A Serpent's Tooth, Any Other Name, Wait For Signs, Dry Bones, The Highwayman, "Eleven/Twenty-Nine", An Obvious Fact

Eighth in the Walt Longmire mystery series revolving around the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming.

This was an Indie Next Pick. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Walt Longmire books on my website.

My Take

I loved it. Hey, it’s a Craig Johnson, how can I not love it?! However, there were some anomalies in this. The wedding is the big one. Johnson makes a big deal about all the work needed to plan Cady’s wedding, and yet he doesn’t give us the idea that Walt’s done much, although it sounds as though the rest of the town has been pitching in and doing a fine job of organizing with the only hiccup being someone else wants Cady’s day.

The incidents atop Painted Warrior are confusing at the end. I have too many questions, and I can’t mention them here without giving too much away.

It’s cowboys and Indians in so many ways, just not the ones that are leaping to your mind, LOL. There’s the usual cops versus, well, everyone else; the angry young woman thrust into a career that she doesn’t want and yet does; bureaucracy versus the public; family versus non; love versus reality; and, it’s all melded together inside a very caring group of people, regardless of the side of the law they’re on or their genetic antecedents.

Lolo both pisses me off and cracks me up. She hates her new job and is so belligerent about it with everyone. Beyond having-any-smarts-about-doing-her-job belligerent. And there’s something about Henry that irritates the hell out of her. Wait’ll you read her reactions to Rezdawg taking off when she’s arresting Walt, LOL. She can’t seem to decide if she wants to be mentored or would rather be blowing up at someone. Nor does she comprehend the terms polite or PC.

I love how Johnson pulls Native American culture and beliefs into his stories and the respect Walt shows for it. He may be skeptical about their peyote ceremonies, but he’s open to the concept.

There were a number of sweet events in this from how much baby Adrian needs Dog by his side, Walt’s sweet story for Cady about the day he married her mother, and I absolutely adore the kids who are “rowing to Alaska”! Great imaginations!

Whoa, that penultimate scene had me twisting all over the place. Johnson had me thinking so many people were the bad guys… It’s the last big scene that I adored however. It’s Cady’s wedding day…

The Story

Just when Walt thought the wedding plans at least had a venue exactly where Cady wanted to be married at Crazy Head Springs, but tribal council vagaries have allowed the Dull Knife College to schedule a Cheyenne language immersion class, kicking Cady’s wedding aside.

It’s just plain lucky for the very unlucky Audrey Plain Feather that Walt and Henry are scouting for a new location. At least someone will now find her body.

The Characters

Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County and the father of the bride. Henry Standing Bear is the Cheyenne Nation with two vehicles at his disposal: the notorious Rezdawg and the sleek Lola is his 1959 T-Bird convertible. He’s also Walt’s best and oldest friend. Dog is Walt’s dog inherited from the last sheriff, Lucian Connally. Dog doesn’t like the Rezdawg either. Cady is Walt’s lawyer daughter who lives in Philadelphia. She’s marrying Michael Moretti, Vic’s little brother at an Indian site in Montana in a few weeks. Lena Moretti, Vic and Michael’s mother, is coming with Cady, and they’ll be arriving tomorrow. The rest of the Morettis will show just before the wedding day.

Lonnie Little Bird fell asleep at a council meeting and got voted in as the new chief. Arbutis Little Bird is Lonnie’s sister and the librarian. Melissa is Lonnie’s daughter (we met her in The Cold Dish, 1). Herbert His Good Horse is the morning drive announcer at KRZZ and is renowned for his repertoire of jokes. Karl Red Fox is in a wheelchair and is His Good Horse’s nephew. Audrey Plain Feather is/was Clarence Last Bull‘s wife; Adrian is her baby boy and Herbert’s son.

Lolo Long is the new tribal police chief with a HUGE chip on her shoulder, and she does not like Henry Standing Bear. I’m surprised she doesn’t fall over, that chip is so big. She has a five-year-old son, Danny, who lives with his father, Cale Garber. Hazel Long is her long-suffering mother who works at Native Health Services. Barrett Long is Lolo’s little brother; he also works at Native Health Services.

Charles Last Bull is a deputy who won’t accept being fired; he’s also Clarence’s brother.

Loraine Two Two works as a waitress over at the Charging Horse Casino. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Inez, is seeing Clarence. Artie Small Song is high on the list of suspects; his mother, Mrs. Small Song, is an Elder and a medicine woman, and she isn’t keen on Walt’s suspicions. She invites Walt to a peyote ceremony. Nate Small Song is Artie’s nephew and works at KRZZ.

The Old Man Chiefs at the peyote ceremony include:
Albert Black Horse is the former tribal police chief now working security at the casino; he will sponsor Walt for the peyote ceremony. James Woodenlegs is the Drum Carrier; he was a friend of Walt’s dad. Willis Weist is the Cedar Man. There’s also a Fire Man.

Birney Road Irregulars are the modern day equivalent to the Baker Street Irregulars
Wiggins Red Thunder is the head of the Irregulars. Leslie S. Little Hawk and Charlie Shoulderblade are members as well.

FBI Agents
There’s a new Special-Agent-in-Charge, Cliff Cly (we first met him in The Dark Horse, 5), and he’s being a jerk in this. Bo Benth is another agent.

Mrs. Stoltzfus is married to a bootmaker. Kelly Joe Burns has issues. Nattie Tyminski is a partner in crime. Thom Paine is the unofficial mayor of Jimtown.

The usual, regular cast
Victoria Moretti is Walt’s undersheriff heading out for a seminar on police public relations, and she’s taking Walt’s truck. Ruby is the Absaroka County police dispatcher. The rest of Walt’s deputies show for the wedding and include the Ferg and his wife, Sancho and his wife and son, and Frymire; Double Tough is manning the office.

More wedding guests include:
Most of the FBI field office; Katz and Gowder, a couple of Philadelphia police detectives from Kindness Goes Unpunished, 3; Mary Barsad with Juana and Benjamin in The Dark Horse; Omar; Bill McDermott and Lana Baroja (we met here in Death Without Company, 2); Dorothy who made the cake; and, Doc Bloomfield.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a background of my favorite yellow-green with a simple tone-on-tone graphic of the woods and cliff face from which the victim fell. The crow is a nice touch from Walt’s peyote-induced trance, carrying that telltale clue.

The title is also from Walt’s trip around the moon, and it is just As the Crow Flies.