Wait For Signs by Craig Johnson

I’ve never read anything by Craig Johnson, nor have I watched the A&E Longmire series, but I was aware of the series from browsing in bookstores and reading magazines like Mystery Scene. I recently saw that Johnson will be the guest of honor at the New England Crime Bake this year so when a review copy was offered I said sure. It was time for me to check out this best selling writer.

From the publisher:
Ten years ago, Craig Johnson wrote his first short story, the Hillerman Award–winning “Old Indian Trick.” This was one of the earliest appearances of the sheriff who would go on to star in Johnson’s bestselling, award-winning novels and the A&E hit series Longmire. Each Christmas Eve thereafter, fans rejoiced when Johnson sent out a new short story featuring an episode in Walt’s life that doesn’t appear in the novels; over the years, many have asked why they can’t buy the stories in book form.

Wait for Signs collects those beloved stories—and one entirely new story, “Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns”—for the very first time in a single volume, regular trade hardcover. With glimpses of Walt’s past from the incident in “Ministerial Aide,” when the sheriff is mistaken for a deity, to the hilarious “Messenger,” where the majority of the action takes place in a Port-A-Potty, Wait for Signs is a necessary addition to any Longmire fan’s shelf and a wonderful way to introduce new readers to the fictional world of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

I agree with the publisher’s blurb that these stories are a wonderful introduction to the world Johnson has created. His characters are the kind of people I want to spend more time with and get to know better. The stories are full of humor and humanity. They were written for Christmas, after all, so they’re feel-good stories, which will also make this book an easy holiday gift choice. It’s smaller size also lends itself to gift giving (5.3 x 7.3)

Johnson is a master at dialog and I found myself chuckling out loud a time or two, which is a rarity for me when reading. I usually feel “set up” to laugh in fiction, but Johnson’s fiction flows naturally and unpretentiously. His descriptions are tight and a single sentence speak volumes. Here’s one of my favorites: “It was a modest home on the outskirts of town, a single-level ranch, the kind that can contain a lot of rage.”

There are 11 novels so far in the Longmire series and I’m definitely going to add the first one to my reading list.

Here is the Longmire series in chronological order:

  1. The Cold Dish 2004
  2. Death Without Company 2006
  3. Kindness Goes Unpunished 2007
  4. Another Man’s Moccasins 2008
  5. The Dark Horse 2009
  6. Junkyard Dogs 2010
  7. Hell Is Empty 2011
  8. As the Crow Flies 2012
  9. A Serpent’s Tooth 2013
  10. Spirit of Steamboat 2013
  11. Any Other Name 2014

Wait For Signs (goodreads)
Craig Johnson (author website)
Viking, October 12, 2014
Currently #14 on the NYT hardcover fiction best sellers list
Source: review copy
FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer and the thoughts expressed above are my own.

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