Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery
One of the great mysteries and minor tragedies of modern media is that fans of “Longmire” (which begins its third season on June 2nd) are unaware that it is based on a fine series of novels by Craig Johnson. ANY OTHER NAME, the 11th and latest installment in the series, continues the tradition that Johnson established over a decade ago, advancing his keystone character incrementally while staying true to his core.
Johnson has a keen ear for dialogue, and Longmire’s laconic and disarming delivery stands first among equals with respect to the strengths of ANY OTHER NAME. While Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire is not a fish out of water, he is certainly out of his jurisdiction. His former boss, Lucian Connally, has asked him to investigate the apparent suicide of Gerald Holman, Lucian’s good friend who was also a detective in neighboring Campbell County. There is a clock that is ticking loudly from page one: Longmire’s daughter is due to deliver her first child in just a few days in Philadelphia, and is adamant that her father be there for the occasion.
"ANY OTHER NAME is a contemporary western of the best kind, featuring a quietly upright and stand-up protagonist with a strong supporting cast and an interesting mystery ultimately solved by old-fashioned police work."
The problem is that Holman’s death is a thread tangled up with other issues. Holman had no apparent reason to kill himself; the scene looks suspiciously like murder; and the cold cases that Holman was investigating at the time of his death seem to indicate a link between the disappearances of at least three women from the area. Longmire’s reopening of what had been considered an open-and-shut suicide isn’t entirely welcomed, but his reputation precedes him to the extent that no one in authority can actually tell him no. Naturally, Lucian is Lucian, more hindrance than help at times but loyal to a fault.
Of course, it does not take long for Longmire’s attractive deputy, Vic Moretti, to show up (their relationship at this stage in the series has, uh, evolved from where it currently is in the television adaptation), nor is the indispensable Henry Running Bear far behind. It is Longmire, though, who does the heavy lifting, defusing situations when he can and mending fences where he must. All the while, he pursues a slim and faint trail of evidence that runs from a strip tease joint (owned and operated by the sister of the local sheriff) with a tie to one of the missing women, to a Deadwood gambling establishment that may or may not hold a secret he needs to discover in order to unravel the mystery he came to solve. Meanwhile, he needs to be in Philadelphia.
ANY OTHER NAME is a contemporary western of the best kind, featuring a quietly upright and stand-up protagonist with a strong supporting cast and an interesting mystery ultimately solved by old-fashioned police work. Building on plot, character and dialogue, Johnson has given us yet another winner in a series that never disappoints.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 16, 2014