Johnson, Craig. 2016. The Highwayman. New York, NY: Viking Press, a division of Penguin Random House. ISBN: 978-0735220898. $20.00 USD.
Craig Johnson is an author who knows how to take care of his fans. As we eagerly, impatiently, await his one full-length Longmire novel to be published each year, he gifts us with short stories, sometimes on his website, and sometime published as novellas mid-year. Such is the case with "The Highwayman>" Thank you, Mr. Johnson!
In this short title, Wyoming Highway Patrolman Rosey Wayman, who first made an appearance in the Longmire title "Another Man’s Moccasins," has been transferred to the remote Wind River Canyon area, known to be a “no-man’s land” due to the lack of radio communication caused by mountain tunnels. It’s also known as a haunted area where, 50 years ago, a Native American highway patrolman, Bobby Womack, met a fiery death. When Rosie starts to hear “officer needs assistance" calls on her patrol car radio at the same time each night, her supervisor thinks she’s losing her mind. Hence, the call to Walt and Henry Standing Bear to help solve this supernatural puzzle.
This isn’t the first Longmire story where Johnson uses references to supernatural occurrences in his narratives, usually related to Native American folklore. Walt actually wears a ring belonging to a deceased Native American whose ghostly presence helped him survive a blizzard in another novel. Sometimes these literary tangents work well, and sometimes, not so much. In "The Highwayman," reality and other-worldliness co-exist well and make for a satisfying story. A cast of interesting side characters round out the usual entertaining dialogue between Walt and Henry, and a surprising twist to Rosey’s backstory leaves the reader with a satisfied sigh.
As we wait for September’s "An Obvious Fact," the next full-length Longmire novel set in an around the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, "The Highwayman" serves as a pleasant balm to our Longmire withdrawal. For those of you who enjoy the Longmire TV show on Netflix, episodes are currently being filmed in Santa Fe and Las Vegas for a binge-watching release, hopefully in September. And, having had a sneak peak at the new Longmire title coming in September, as well, all I can say is….best opening chapter, ever!