Death Without Company (Walt Longmire, #2)

ISBN: 0143038389
ISBN 13: 9780143038382
By: Craig Johnson

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About this book

Walt investigates a death by poison in this gripping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Cold Dish and As the Crow Flies, the second in the  Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies, who garnered both praise and an enthusiastic readership with his acclaimed debut novel featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire, The Cold Dish, the first in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series. Now Johnson takes us back to the rugged landscape of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for Death Without Company. When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them.

Reader's Thoughts

Maria

I have so much I want to say about this book! Since there are many, many summaries out there I'm going to skip over that part and go straight to my impressions.I'm a fan of the Longmire series on A&E but I had never thought of reading the books until I was told by a friend that it would give me much better insight into the series. She also cautioned that although the television series is based on the books, I should keep them separate as I was reading.I found this to be very true as I read, and I found that I came to like the character of Sheriff Longmire even more than I already did. The book is told in the first person from his point of view, and his prolonged silences make so much more sense now! I usually really hate reading books written in the first person because the narrator can be difficult to relate to or unreliable, but in this case it really works. This is a man who is blend of humor and tragedy, and this makes him uniquely suited to be the narrator of what can sometimes be a difficult story to tell. Longmire narrates from the perspective of his age and experience: He still feels deep and powerful emotions, but he has created a space in his consciousness where he view and report these feelings dispassionately. What makes him the lawman he is, however, is also what makes it so difficult for him to connect with other people. Thankfully, other characters sense that they are what tether him to reality, and Longmire's greatest asset are the people he surrounds himself with. All of these themes about man against nature/himself, community, and frontier are explored through a prose style I found delightfully pleasant to read. Like so many authors writing in this genre, Craig Johnson could have chosen to get caught up in long-winded descriptions of nature or Native American spiritualism; these elements are present, but they are shared with care and meaning. The people are most important part of the narrative, and Johnson's writing style forces me to slow down and work a little harder to collect the clues. It's a prose style that welcomes the reader and encourages sitting down and resting a spell; it really makes me want to to know what happens next. The theme of community is powerful, and I was surprised by the variety of communities within Absaroka County. It takes a unique personality to survive life on the frontier, and these hardy people put down roots that can reach back for generations. Walt Longmire and his Cheyenne best friend, Henry Standing Bear, have grown up together over a lifetime that has included being enemies before being friends. Lucian, the old sheriff, seems like a Hollywood caricature of the frontier sheriff but, as the book progresses, there is a sense that he maintained law in a place that didn't always have much patience or use for it. Deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti is the transplant from the big city: she's foul-mouthed and dismissive of this different view of life, but she's also drawn to put down roots and create a home for herself in a place that accepts her the way she is. Young Santiago Saizarbitoria is added in this second installment, and I liked him as much as all the ladies in the story do. The list goes on and on, and it seems like everybody has a story woven into the tapestry of the town; this isn't the big city where neighbors never meet, these people survive by learning to walk the fine line between independence and interdependence.One of this book's most important themes is the sense of place, the American Frontier as a living place. I've heard many people say that Americans don't have a culture like people from other countries, but this isn't true: American culture is steeped in the frontier and even people who live in large urban areas identify with the fierce independence, toughness, and resilience of the pioneer. The frontier is where people who were different went to reinvent themselves, to start over fresh, and the characters in Death Without Company remind the reader of this, but in a thoroughly modern sense. No matter how technologically advanced we get as a society, or how liberal our views become, there are still places in this country where man stands resolute not only against his fellow man and the forces of nature, but also against himself. This is the most excited I've been about a series in a long time, and I find myself both sad and happy. Sad, as in, "Why the heck did it take me so long to start reading this series?" Happy, as in, "There are nine books in this series? Yee haw!"

LJ

DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY (Police Procedural-Wyoming-Cont) – VGJohnson, Craig, 2nd of seriesViking, 2006-HardcoverSheriff Walter Longmire receives a call from his mentor, good friend and the previous Sheriff, Lucian Connally. Lucian demands that Walt investigate the death of Mari Baroja, a fellow resident at the Durant Home for Assisted Living. Lucian and Mari were married very briefly when they were young. Now Lucian believes Mari has been murdered. The investigation uncovers greed, secrets and other deaths.*** Johnson has created great characters in Henry Standing Bear, the profane Deputy Victoria Moretti, Lucian, and many others old and new. But it’s Walt who really stayed with me. He has a degree in English Literature, is a Vietnam vet and a man who has known grief from the death of his wife and a woman he loved. The dialogue is natural, with character-driven humor. His descriptions and sense of place and use of the metaphysical add dimension and power to the story. It took me a bit to get into this book but once there, I didn’t put it down. Very well worth the read.

Renee

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of these books until about the second or third episode of the television series _Longmire_ when an ad declared "based on the books by Craig Johnson". I enjoy the show a great deal, and I picked up the first book on a whim in a local bookstore. I was absolutely blown away. The characters are fully formed and leap off the page. The first book _A Cold Dish_ was wonderful, but this second book is perhaps better (maybe just because I now know the cast of characters and already love them. The series connects together in nice character-driven details, and although the television show is good, the books are better. Walt is the narrator, and he's funny, perceptive, wry, self-deprecating, and a wonderful dimensional character. The supporting characters, from Ruby, to Henry Standing Bear (whose voice is so distinct that I can literally hear him speak in my head...or maybe it's just Lou Diamond-Phillips, who plays Henry in the television show), are detailed and fully fleshed out. So many times, supporting players are cardboard shadows. Not here. Johnson is just that good as a writer. The cases are also dark, unpredictable, and so very interesting.

Jen

Walt Longmire and gang return in the second book of Craig Johnson's Absaroka County series. DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY finds Walt investigating the death of Mari Baroja. Baroja's death appears to be of natural causes, but Lucien Connally insists that there is foul play in the death of his...wife? Walt begins investigating to find out that there is indeed foul play and a whole lot of money at stake; the question then becomes just how deep does this foul run?When I finished THE COLD DISH, I recall hoping Lucien would be back playing a more prominent role. It was as if Johnson heard my request. However, DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY was written before I read THE COLD DISH, please pay no attention the reviewer with a ridiculous sense of self-aggrandizement. Regardless, I was happy to see Lucien not only back, but at the center of all the hoopla. Johnson brings Lucien's back story out in grand fashion, which is only befitting a character as spectacular as the one-legged, former sheriff of Absaroka County.Also in this installment, Johnson introduces a couple new characters; one of whom is Santiago Saizarbitoria, a.k.a. "Sancho." He's come to town to apply for the deputy's position with Walt and Vic. Also joining the tight-knit community is Lana Baroja, the young town baker and granddaughter of Mari Baroja. Craig Johnson truly has a gift with characters. I don't think stereotype is in his vocabulary. Instead he has extra helpings of "depth," "dimension," "dynamics," and of course "humor."But as great as Johnson is with his characters, there's one element he's even better with - I guess it's technically related to character, but - Johnson knocks the ball out of the park with his relationships between characters. Lucien and Walt could be playing chess for the entire duration of the novel and you'd be glued to the book simply because the interaction between these two characters is so magnificent.And each of these men would give his life for the other. As a reader I want to be a part of all that, so Johnson rolls out the red carpet and invites you in. It's hard not to feel like you're riding in Walt's truck, sitting at the counter in the Bee, or observing a hot game of chess in Room 32 at the Durant Home for Assisted Living. As with THE COLD DISH, the setting also becomes a prominent character in DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY. Mother Nature can be beautiful and devastating, but she's still a major character; Johnson depicts Nature's relationships with the human characters as vividly and grand as with any other. Johnson does for Wyoming what Burke does for Louisiana.My heart raced; I shivered with cold; and I didn't notice any of it until after it was already happening. The plot of DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY has a great mystery, but the even greater mystery is how anyone could read it and not simply drift away into Johnson's beloved Wyoming and Walt's beloved Absaroka. The poetry of Johnson's prose envelope's the reader, blocking the rest of the world out. And when the reader turns that last page, and Johnson releases him/her, a small part of that world goes along in their head until the reader can return once again.I think it goes without saying that DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY receives my highest recommendation. Another astounding effort by Craig Johnson.

Amy Sturgis

I enjoyed this second installment in the Walt Longmire series even more than the first, as it brought up questions of personal and regional history and forced Walt to question what he really knew about the people closest to him and what kind of lawman he is (with former Sheriff Lucian Connally serving as a telling comparison/contrast). Characters such as Walt's friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria continued to unfold in compelling ways, and the emphasis on the Basque community was fascinating. No sophomore slump for Craig Johnson!

Robert

Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire is back for more in the second installment in this series. Look for a lot of skeletons to be falling out of closets left and right as Walt looks into a death at the old folks home for his friend and former Sheriff Lucian. And it seems Lucian may want to be careful of the contents of his closet as well. The spiritual aspect of the Native Americans that Johnson stirs into the soup to cook up his stories is like the perfect seasoning that just adds that right flavor to an already wonderful story. These are the type of books that I really enjoy, a story that when you crack open the book it seems as if you are visiting old friends.

Eric

As hard as this is to say, considering how much I lauded the first book, this one is even better. The book was tighter and more focused (with the notable exception of a romantic sub-plot that was dropped before it could get off the ground), and the mystery was more interesting -- and it gave us insight into Walt, Henry and Lucian's pasts. I cannot wait to start reading the third book in the series, Kindness Goes Unpunished, but am purposely staggering them so I don't run through the series too quickly.

Natalia

Two great things going for this book: Both a good mystery, and beautifully written.Seriously, I could read Johnson's prose all day long, so evocative, flows beautifully, and only ever adds to the story - never distracts you from it. In general, I usually prefer a really plain, straightforward style of writing, because I hate feeling like the author threw a thesaurus at their book. Johnson writes beautifully without showing off, and I love that. The mystery itself felt very fresh. To me the sign of a good mystery is when the reader has a shot at figuring it out before the end (I hate books where the killer isn't introduced until the last 30 pages of the book. What's the fun in that?) In this case, I remember when the character who turns out to be the mastermind appears in a crucial point in the middle of the book, and thinking... that's odd. But I still didn't put it all together. It made the book feel really satisfying at the end.Finally, I love the characters, only 2 books into the series, and they all feel like real people. I love that Walt talks to dead people in his dreams, and there are occasional visits from ghostly Cheyenne warriors, and yet there's nothing about the book that is "paranormal" - that's just the way Walt experiences the world.

Ann Schwader

(Disclaimer: I am a Wyoming native, & have relatives in that part of Wyoming where this series is set. Those with fewer ties to or less interest in Wyoming might find this novel more of a four-star read -- though I doubt it. The quality is just too high.)Craig Johnson's second "Longmire" mystery -- which appears to take place soon after the ending of his first, The Cold Dish -- is a bleak, beautiful thing. Combining the classic motive of a disputed inheritance with very modern Western details (the coal methane boom, the regional curse of methamphetamine addiction), this novel delivers a complex & addictive reading experience. In addition to the Cheyenne people (well represented by Walt's friend Henry Standing Bear), this novel involves both the Crow and the Basque cultures. Even for those raised in the West, it's likely to offer new insights. Readers new to this series, however, should definitely begin with The Cold Dish. The Longmire novels are heavily character-driven, and these characters grow & change. Though Johnson is careful to provide some background for new readers, I can't imagine that the reading experience would be as rich without having the "full story."

Robert

I’d never heard of Craig Johnson before I attended Left Coast Crime 2011 in Santa Fe, NM. Let me say it was more than just a minor oversight on my part: it was probably a borderline tragedy. During a Sunday morning panel titled "Crime Fiction on Big and Little Screens," he spoke about the Longmire series in production with A&E, and I was intrigued from when he first opened his mouth to the end of the discussion. To entice us to stick around and thank us for showing up on Sunday, cards for a giveaway were being handed out, and I happened to be second to the trough. An ARC of Craig’s upcoming release Hell Is Empty was one of the items being offered, and I snapped it up faster than a rattlesnake might attack a field mouse. And I was enamored enough with the writing and the characters to start at the beginning of the Walt Longmire series.Like Craig Johnson the man, Craig Johnson the author leaves a damn good third impression. Death Without Company brings back all the familiar faces from The Cold Dish, and even manages to throw in a few new ones. The familiarity mixed with the new is certainly intriguing, and he only ratchets it up with great characterization, setting, and an intriguing mystery. Even though this is a first person narrative, like the other two, the secondary characters are rich in depth, description, and details to the point that the reader isn’t lacking a single piece of information. If that isn’t enough for you, he takes it a step further and Absaroka County feels about as close and homey as my own backyard.Speaking of my backyard, he was kind enough to stop in New Mexico on his book tour for his latest novel As The Crow Flies, and I was impressed with the way he carried himself. Afterwards, he signed three novels for me, not his latest, and he seemed both genuine and sincere. My last encounter with him was an email exchange, and he exhibited all the same qualities I gathered from my first impression.So what’s my point? It’s a beautiful thing when nice guys find success, and I hope he discovers it in droves. He’s built up a faithful audience through wonderful prose, received numerous writing awards, but it wasn’t until his seventh novel that he hit The New York Times Bestsellers List. If I had a cowboy hat, I’d tip it in Craig Johnson’s direction, and I’d wish him nothing but the best. And if you like mysteries as much as I do, you’ll want to remember the name Craig Johnson. It’s one I won’t likely forget.Cross-posted at Robert's Reads

John

This is the second book in the Longmire series, about the modern day sheriff of the least populated county in the least populated state in the union, Wyoming. It was just as good, and maybe better than the first book. The former sheriff, Lucian Connelly, contacts Walter Longmire about the death of a woman in the assisted living facility where he lives. Her death appears to have been of natural causes, but Lucian insists that she was murdered. We soon learn that Lucian had a connection to the lady and that she had recently come into a lot of money from gas deposits on her land. Now someone seems to be trying to kill people connected to her. The story features all the usual characters like Deputies Vic and the Ferg, his secretary Ruth, Henry Standing Bear, plus Longmire's daughter Caty makes her first appearance and a new deputy is hired. The story is filled with great characters, humor, drama and action.

Ben

Death Without Company is the excellent follow up the solid first Longmire novel, The Cold Dish. Fans of the first book can expect more of the same, and that's a good thing: acute descriptions of the Wyoming scenery, excellent characters, and a good mystery. The second novel features less of a "who dun it" and doesn't have the same sort of plot twist The Cold Dish featured, and that's fine––the book is a more personal mystery and an action-adventure chase narrative as the final chapters wind down. Standout new characters include Santiago "Sancho" Saizarbitoria, a new deputy, and Cady Longmire, mentioned in the first novel but featured fully here. Missing from Death Without Company is Omar, a highlight of The Cold Dish, which is slightly disappointing.Death Without Company is the superior novel to The Cold Dish. By this time, Johnson has perfected his pace, descriptions, and the characters (introduced in the first book) have settled into and expanded their relationships. Ultimately, though each mystery is enjoyable and exciting, it is the characters and the snowy winters of Wyoming that keep me coming back.

Mason

Catching up past installments of a series can be fun, especially when it’s written by New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson and it’s the Walt Longmire Mystery Series.In the second book, DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY, readers return to the rugged landscape of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Sheriff Walt Longmire is investigating the death of Mari Baroja, who was found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living.As the story unfolds, Longmire looks into the mysterious woman’s past that goes back 50 years. Connecting the past to the present is the only way Longmire can find the killer. He has the help of his Deputy Victoria Moretti, his best friend Henry Standing Bear, and a new Deputy Santiago Saizarbitoria to search for clues.Johnson has a way of placing the reader in the middle of the action with his vivid descriptions of the landscape. His characters are well-developed but continue to evolve with each installment. They are realistic and likable.The story moves at a steady pace with suspense, mystery and just enough humor sprinkled throughout for a smooth read. In addition, Johnson incorporates the history of Basque sheepherders who settled in Wyoming into the story and how their culture interacted with those residing there. DEATH WITHOUT COMPANY will pull you further into the Longmire series and hold you spellbound as you learn more about the fascinating sheriff and his trusty group of friends.FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Eric_W

The publisher's blurb compares Craig Johnson to Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr, and Robert B. Parker. I have no idea what they must have been smoking when they wrote that. I have read some from each and Johnson is better. His use of language is far superior and evocative, not to mention the undercurrent of humor. Walt Longmire is someone you would really like to know; Spenser? Not me. This is the second of the Longmire series, the third I have read. Probably not necessary to read them in order, but I have decided to do so except for the one I already read out-of-order. Lucien, Walt's predecessor and mentor in the Sheriff's office, has told Walt he needs to have an autopsy performed on Mari, his fellow resident at the assisted living home. Turns out he had been married to her for three days way back when. The investigation goes back many years and involves Basque culture (did you know that 27% of Basques have O-neg blood type -- as I do, coincidentally -- a normally rare type that is valued as it's the universal donor type. I'm rather proud that I am up to 8 gallons now of donated blood.) Walt's department is such an interesting mix of personalities and stereotype-busters: he has a degree in English lit and quotes Shakespeare; Vic is an ex-homicide detective from Philadelphia with very colorful language. Santiago, the newest addition, is of Basque heritage - Absaroka County has a high percentage of Basques-- who is a linguist. Walt's best friend is Henry Standing Bear who speaks several dialects of Cheyenne (the relationship between the reservation and non-Indians is a recurring theme.)Absaroka County is a mythical county supposedly about the size of Vermont (9200 sq miles similar to the real Femont county, the seat of which is Lander, population 7,800) and the least populated in Wyoming (unlike Fremont County). There is a real Absaroka mountain range along the border of Wyoming and Montana. For those of you who think it might be unrealistic to have such a small department for such a large territory, consider this. I was talking to Donald Harstad, a former deputy sheriff of Clayton County, Iowa who, incidentally, writes a terrific series of stories. Clayton County covers about 728 square miles in NE Iowa. (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/... said that at any given time at night in Clayton County, the department could field only two deputies for a dispersed population of about 18,000. That means to get to the site of an accident at the far end of the county requires some very high speed driving over very hilly roads. It's a very scary thought. As one who has lived in large cities (Paris, Philadelphia, etc.) but also remote farming areas (the closest grocery store was 25 miles and the closest neighbor where I live now is 3/4 of a mile) I think those who grew up only in cities have little concept of the distances in places like Wyoming where the population is not quite 6 people per square mile. That being said, Harstad provides a better feeling than Johnson of the large distances that must be covered. BTW, I could find no reference to any real Cheyenne Indian reservation in Wyoming. There is an Arapaho and Shoshone reservation in west central Wyoming, but the closest Cheyenne reservation is in South Dakota. Johnson is very good. I intend to read all of them. But read Harstad, too.

Susan

I am reading the Longmire series out of order as they arrive from the library. And in this case so far I think that is totally OK. I think at some point I will have to buy them and then read them in chronological order. I had watched the summer show, just simply called "Longmire" on A&E this morning and I think it is one of the best shows I have seen in years. What I am finding is the show doesn't slavishly follow the books while being incredibly authentic as to humor, tone and intricacy. The show shares the sense of absurd and subtle irony with the books. I am glad because it makes the books and their plotting fresh. Sometimes you don't know when you watch a show first and then read the source, but these augment each other not conflict.The secondary characters are well developed and frequently steal the show or book. In this particular book Johnson explores the little known history of the Basque in Wyoming one his way he touches base to the courage and pathos of the choices facing a battered woman in the 60 years ago and further develops Walt's well tuned instinct for justice. One thing that is better portrayed in the books over the show at least so far is the magical realism, mostly Native American spirituality based, Walt has "true dreams", the dead sometimes come and communicate to him through the dreams, in this one he keeps dreaming of the woman who has died in the old folk's home of poisoning in the beginning of the book, but as a young and beautiful woman, and he gradually comes to understand what it is she is trying to point him towards. While Walt follows along in his seemingly haphazard way the dynamics of the small town and its history and inhabitants is very colorfully demonstrated. Then there is the poignant recognition and poetry in how Walt thinks about and experiences nature, worth reading the book for in itself.

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