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Murder Among Friends

Our Book Discussion & Skype Visit with Craig Johnson on "The Cold Dish"

Craig Johnson picture from his Tour of Duty

After Thursday’s meeting, there is no doubt in any attending MAF member’s mind that Craig Johnson is one heck of a nice guy, -- & that we think he should be playing Walt Longmire, on the Longmire TV show. Craig was so kind as to endure participate in a test of our Skype connections – and everything worked perfectly!

So we had the chance to go beyond the speakerphone, to see and talk with him while he was up on the big screen in our meeting room. (That’s why we can vouch for his Film Screen readiness!) We were also all impressed with The Cold Dish, our discussion book that night. It's the book that introduced the world to Walt Longmire, the crew outside Durant, Wyoming, and the Northern Cheyenne reservation. And a motely but highly interesting crew they are! Members liked the way Craig builds his well-rounded characters, going beyond the ones involved in the main plot. We all traded conjectures about who might be featured in other books in the series. (Attendees commented that they plan to continue not only the series, but to start watching Longmire.)

We definitely had questions for Craig, ranging from Walt's potential romantic interests, to seeing more of Walt’s daughter Cady, to how growing up in West Virginia, he ended up in Wyoming. He agreed that with Walt’s appreciation for women, and now growing interest in life, there might be something going on for him, but we’ll need to read the other books to see this -- & his relationship with Cady develop!

As for how Craig came to be in Wyoming, he related that his grandfather was a blacksmith, and that Wyoming was one of a number of places, that they worked on horses. “But it was the one that spoke to me, I guess”. It spoke strongly enough, that Craig built his log cabin house there by himself.

When asked about research, he talked about local police, speaking with folks on the reservation, and what great sources both the local newspaper and diner can be for keeping Walt’s cases, and town life real and contemporary. “When you want to know what’s going on in a place you want to go to the local restaurant and the bars – that’s where people talk.” We also complimented him on the subtle, and local ways he works humor into the story, mentioning Henry – & later Walt – saying “Wahampi” to the growling dogs. (Wahampi is Lakota for “stew”.) Living with the Sioux, the dogs know exactly why Henry says it – and quiet right down.

 

We asked about the Cheyenne Rifle of the Dead, and why it is left with Walt. Craig indicated that the practical reason was that Walt still needed to keep it for ballistics, but that both Lonnie and Henry were also aware of the spiritual connection and healing that began for Walt in the harrowing scene in the woods, where Walt nearly dies. In a way, it is part of his recovery.

We also asked him what books are in the works. He mentioned that he’s got a (very cool) novella on tap to be released around the time that the 5th season of Longmire begins. It is called The Highwayman and focuses on a highway patrol cop from around Wind River named Rosie, who asks Walt, & Henry for help when a local ghost, and deceased patrol officer, seems to be involved in the case she’s working.

There will also be a new Longmire novel next year, that is called An Obvious Fact. The title, is from a quote in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Boscombe Valley mystery: "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." Craig told us we’ll find “Henry reading and quoting Doyle all the time … driving Walt crazy,” Little did Craig know that we’re all fans of Holmes – with now a fun spin on the Holmes Canon to appreciate!

Before letting Craig go, we also wanted to know if Walt makes it to Melissa for missing Thanksgiving, and Craig said Walt gets together with her at Christmas. We thanked our “Walt” (a.k.a. Craig) for spending some seasonal time with us, and assured him that MAF chocolates are heading his way!

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