Editor's note: In the months leading up to the High Plains Book Awards in October, The Billings Gazette and the High Plains Book Awards Committee are featuring reviews of finalists in each of the categories.
Craig Johnson’s 12th book in the Longmire series, "An Obvious Fact," surprised me. Sheriff Walt Longmire seems downright chatty. Henry Standing Bear speaks mostly in quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, hence the book’s title. Dog sees a lot of action.
The story is based around Devils Tower during the Sturgis rally. Walt is asked to help on a case that involves a motorcyclist pushed off the road. There are gunrunners, a murder and neo-Nazi groups. Henry is confronted with his past by the mother of the injured rider. Walt spends a lot of time explaining his out-of-jurisdiction actions to local law enforcement.
What I enjoyed most is Henry’s back story, which is reflected in his quest to win a hill climb event. He races his vintage Indian motorcycle every year on the same bluff where he won a trophy in the 1960s.
While Henry seems more reflective, maybe Walt is mellowing. Perhaps that accounts for the lack of life and death scenes. There are some unfinished threads including the possibility that the injured motorcycle rider, who is now in a coma, may be Bear’s son. And we wait until the last two pages to confirm who obviously did the deed. But no shootouts there either. However, Longmire devotees are never disappointed.
"An Obvious Fact" is one of three finalists out of 32 fiction category nominations for the High Plains Book Awards to be held Oct. 21.