Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire Series #15)

Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire Series #15)

by Craig Johnson

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Overview

The new novel in Craig Johnson's beloved New York Times bestselling Longmire series.

"It's the scenery—and the big guy standing in front of the scenery—that keeps us coming back to Craig Johnson's lean and leathery mysteries." 
The New York Times Book Review

Recovering from his harrowing experiences in Mexico, Sheriff Walt Longmire returns to Absaroka County, Wyoming, to lick his wounds and try once again to maintain justice in a place with grudges that go back generations. When a shepherd is found dead, Longmire suspects it could be suicide. But the shepherd's connection to the Extepares, a powerful family of Basque ranchers with a history of violence, leads the sheriff into an intricate investigation of a possible murder.

As Walt searches for information about the shepherd, he comes across strange carvings on trees, as well as play money coupons from inside Mallo Cup candies, which he interprets as messages from his spiritual guide, Virgil White Buffalo. Longmire doesn't know how these little blue cards are appearing, but Virgil usually reaches out if a child is in danger. So when a young boy with ties to the Extepare clan arrives in town, the stakes grow even higher.

Even more complicating, a renegade wolf has been haunting the Bighorn Mountains, and the townspeople are out for blood. With both a wolf and a killer on the loose, Longmire follows a twisting trail of evidence, leading to dark and shocking conclusions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525522508
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Series: Walt Longmire Series , #15
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 6,759
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries, the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire. He is the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for fiction, the Nouvel Observateur Prix du Roman Noir, and the Prix SNCF du Polar. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

Read an Excerpt

1

It's hard to think of a place in Wyoming where the wind doesn't reign supreme; where the sovereignty of sound doesn't break through the parks of the Bighorns with a hoarse-throated howl. I sometimes wonder if the trees miss the wind in the infrequent moments when it dies down, when the air is still and the skies are a threadbare blue, thin and stretching above the mountains. Needled courtesans-the lodgepole pines, Douglas firs, and Engelmann spruce-stand at the edge of the great park like wallflowers awaiting the beseeching hand of the wind to invite them to the dance floor. And I can't help but wonder that when the sway passes and the trees are still, do they pine for that wind; do they grieve?

"It's a dead sheep."

"What?"

"It's a dead sheep, in case you were wondering."

"Yep, it is."

She stopped eating her breakfast PowerBar and looked straight at me. "Then why have you been staring at it for the last five minutes?"

I swallowed and formed a few words, but they wouldn't come out. It was like that lately, almost as if some inhibitor was kicking in every time I tried to say something.

She studied me for a moment more, and then her eyes returned to the carcass. "Is it me, or does it seem like we've done this before?"

Two men were examining the demised and doing their best to ignore us. "I guess we didn't do a good enough job on the other sheep-o-cides."

She continued chewing. "Why is that?"

"Because there's another dead sheep."

"There's always another dead sheep. It's what sheep do-they die." Victoria Moretti glanced around at the snow-spotted park and the breathtaking beauty of the Bighorn Mountain Range, bold faces of the granite high country rising like magnificent stockades. "Boy, we're in the middle of fucking nowhere."

I sighed and girded up some more words. "Nice, isn't it." I passed her the cup from my battered thermos that was covered in stickers, one of which read drinking fuel. She handed me the remains of her bar, and I watched as she took a sip of the coffee.

"Remind me again why we're here?"

I took a bite. "Public relations."

"Since when does the Absaroka County Sheriff's Department have to worry about public relations?"

"When has the Absaroka County sheriff or any other sheriff not had to worry about public relationships? Or, more important, dealings within the law enforcement community." I took another bite and pointed at the two men. "Aka: the Absaroka County Brand Inspector and the National Forest Service."

"You just don't want to be babysat at the office."

I watched a random breeze push the treetops, dusting the frosted grass with a little fresh snow from the pine needles. "There's that." I undid the top of the thermos again and took my chrome cup back to refill it. "You mind telling me what that's all about?"

"What?"

"Why everyone is treating me like a Fabergé egg?"

"After Mexico, all parties have decided that you need a little more adult supervision."

I nodded and handed her the last bite. "Sancho follows me to the bathroom."

At the mention of our Basque deputy, Santiago Saizarbitoria, Vic smiled. "He's taking his orders very seriously."

I started to lift the cup to my lips, then stopped. "Whose orders?"

"I am not at liberty to say at this time."

"My daughter."

"Pretty much."

I sipped my coffee, a slight huff building. "If she's so worried about me, why doesn't she come up here and see about me for herself?"

"Um, because she has a life and a career in Cheyenne." She studied the side of my face. "She's been through a lot, Walt."

I nodded. "Yep."

"What, you're lonely? I can get Sancho to go in the bathroom with you."

"Thanks, but no thanks." I took a deep breath, feeling the stitch in my side. "I know she's been through a lot, and I just think we need to talk about it."

"So call her."

"I hate phones."

"Go to Cheyenne."

"I'm not particularly fond of Cheyenne either . . . Besides, after the amount of time I've been gone from the county, I think I need to be around here." I turned to look at her just as the two men approached. "Well?"

Don Butler, who had been the county brand inspector for years, gave me an unsettled look. "Difficult to say on a three-day-old kill."

"Could be a wolf." We all turned to look at Chuck Coon. "Well, it could be."

Vic made a face. "I thought you Rabbit Rangers say there aren't any wolves in the Bighorns."

Butler pushed his stained hat back and scrubbed a hand over the lines on his face. "Of course there aren't, which is why we're collecting DNA."

Coon sighed. "Anyway, there aren't supposed to be."

"Are you saying the wolves aren't cooperating?"

"Like any other adolescent, they have a tendency to wander . . ."

Butler glanced back at the remains. "If it is a wolf, it's a young one, I'd imagine."

"I'm betting a two-year-old." Chuck leaned against the tailgate of my truck, the official mantra spilling from his lips like a teletype machine. "It will be dealt with swiftly."

"You're gonna kill it?" Vic shook her head. "Doesn't the Fed just pay for the sheep?"

"Yeah, but once they get a taste for mutton, they usually keep hitting the herd and it becomes a problem-besides, it's a predator zone, so they're not supposed to be here."

She glanced at me. "What's a predator zone?"

"Neither protected nor trophy, they are considered to be in an agricultural area and a nuisance or predator, and you're allowed to shoot them at any time, like coyotes."

She looked back at the ranger. "They were here before we were."

I changed the subject. "More important: whose herd?"

Don cocked his head with a grim look. "Extepare. Abarrane Extepare."

Vic looked confused.

"Son of Beltran Extepare, the man who blew Lucian's leg off." The sheep rancher's father had been the Basque bootlegger back in the late forties who had relieved my predecessor of an appendage.

Her tarnished gold eyes sparkled the way they always did at the mention of mayhem. "Ooh, shit. This is getting interesting."

I looked past the two men at the hundred or so sheep grazing a good fifty yards away. "So, I don't suppose the old man is up here?"

"Not that we've seen."

"How 'bout the herder?"

"Haven't seen him either."

"Well, who called in the sheep?"

Coon thumbed his chest. "I did."

"Then first you need to find the herder and talk with him. Then we can go have a little chat with Abarrane and hope we don't get shot." I watched as Coon, in search of a needle, looked behind him at the expanse of haystack mountains. I turned and looked at Butler. "Any idea what Extepare's permits for grazing are?"

Disgruntled, Don started off toward his truck. "Got 'em on my computer."

I threw out the rest of my coffee and, slowly sliding off the tailgate, limped after him with Vic and Chuck in tow. Coon pulled up beside me.

"How are you doing, Walt?"

"Good-a little stiff, but I'm fine."

"That sounded like some pretty hairy stuff down there in Mexico."

I nodded.

"Sure you're okay?"

"Yep."

He continued talking as I opened the passenger side door. "You lost a lot of weight-I guess you can count that as a positive."

The brand inspector had a nice truck with carpet, a leather interior, and all the electronic gizmos, including a swinging table that held a laptop computer. "Jeez, Don, the Cattleman's Association is making way too much money."

He grumbled as he climbed onto the seat. "I practically live in the thing." After tapping a few keys, he stared at the screen. "Extepare all right. One section-looks like it's mostly west of here." He peered through his windshield. "Odd, those sheep scattered this far east and nobody checking on 'em."

Studying the large meadow, my eyes followed his. "Maybe the wolf spooked them?"

Don pulled the brim of his hat back down, low over his eyes, still seemingly puzzled. "Maybe, but hell, we've been here for an hour and you'd think somebody would have shown up . . ."

I turned, looking at the expanse. "How big would you say this park is?"

"At least a couple square miles."

Vic studied the large, open space. "Why do they call them parks?"

"Bastardization of the French term that the trappers used when they first came to this part of the country." I sighed, seeing the lunch I'd planned at the Busy Bee Café going up in grilled smoke. "All right. We can split it up-you take the right, Don. Chuck, you take the middle, and Vic, we'll work the tree line to the left. I don't think there's much of a chance that he'd set up camp out in the middle, but you never know." I glanced back at Butler. "Does the herder have a name?"

"Miguel Hernandez."

"Chilean?"

"Yeah."

Walking back to the Bullet, I called over my shoulder. "Our standard frequency." Climbing in, I was met with a copious fog of Dog breath as he hung his bucket head over the seat and whined. "I know you want to get out, but you can't-like the butler, they might think you did it."

Vic pulled the passenger door closed behind her. "Chile?"

Glancing around at all the remaining April snow, I slipped the truck into four-wheel drive.

"H-2A-temporary-agricultural-work program that allows companies to hire foreigners if no Americans want the jobs."

She leaned forward, scanning the area ahead of us. "The scenery's pretty great, but I can't imagine the amenities are plentiful."

"If we find Miguel's campito, you'll see."

"They stay up here?"

Following the slope of the meadow, I drove slowly, keeping my eyes on the tree line. "You've seen the sheep wagons at the Basque parade; they generally live in those."

"So, this guy, Extepare, he's Basque, and he hires some guy from Chile?"

"Yep."

"Why not another Basque?"

"The economy is good there, and nobody wants the jobs. Most of the herders you're going to see out here these days are South American-borregueros they call themselves."

"What do they get paid?"

"About six hundred fifty dollars a month."

"Jesus. I'd run off too."

Hoping to spot something, I kept peering into the dense forest as we drove. "Tough to eat scenery. It's lonely work."

"You mean they just leave them here?"

"There's usually a camp tender who comes up with supplies and might spell them out for a day or two, but it's rough with no other human interaction-some never learn English."

"Do they have dogs?"

"Usually, why?"

She pointed. "Because there's one."

I turned to see a border collie at the precipice of a ridge ahead. Slowing to a stop, we waited a moment, but then the dog disappeared. "Damn." Gunning the engine, I turned the wheel and drove to the spot on the ridge where the dog had been. "Do you see anything?"

Vic sat up in her seat and turned around to the right and back toward me, finally looking past me to a spot on my left. "There."

I turned and could see the dog hightailing it into the forest, so I spun the wheel again and then drove to the edge of it and parked.

Vic held her hand on the rear door. "You want Dog out?"

"No." He looked at me, deeply hurt. "Sorry, but if you run off chasing some strange dog, I'll never find you." I met my undersheriff at the front of the truck and peered into the mist, where the sun was attempting to melt the snow. The meadow behind us resembled an impressionist painting, evaporating before our eyes. "See him?"

"No."

Leaning against the grille guard and staring at the snow patch in front of us, I shook my head, raised a hand, and motioned to the right. "Looks like he's headed that way."

Letting Vic break ground, I followed, dodging between the trees and wishing the pain in my side would let up. After getting back from Mexico, Docs Bloomfield and Nickerson had given me the once-over and explained that the doctors in Juárez had actually done a pretty good job of patching up my stomach, spleen, liver, and part of a lung, but I still felt like hell.

They'd warned me that I needed more bed rest, but I'd finished rereading all four volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time and I was going stir-crazy. They'd informed me that with deep-tissue, solid-organ damage, the repair was really up to the organ itself, and that if I wasn't careful, I was courting disaster-or at least asking it out on a first date.

"You all right?"

I looked at Vic, who was standing on the trail still ahead of me. I placed a hand on a nearby lodgepole pine. "Yep, just a little winded."

She approached. "Go back to the truck."

"No."

"Let me rephrase: go back to the truck or I'll shoot you."

I shook my head. "No, you won't."

Slipping the semiauto from her holster, she aimed the 9mm at my foot. "If you don't do what I say, I'm going to blow the big toe off your left foot-now go back to the truck."

"Is that a new sidearm?"

She held it up for inspection, displaying it like a hand model would. "Glock 19 Gen 4 in Midnight Bronze." She re-aimed it at my foot. "There is a pool at the office on who is going to be responsible for letting you do something stupid that causes you to hurt yourself, and that is not going to be on my watch-got it?"

I smiled at her in an attempt to save my toe. "Who's leading the pool?"

"Lucian, but Sancho coming up fast on the inside."

"That's why he follows me to the bathroom?"

"Uh huh. Now quit stalling and go to the truck."

"Yes, ma'am." I pushed off the tree and started back at a slow pace, wondering if I'd ever pick up the step I'd lost in Mexico. Maybe that was the way of things; sometimes you paid a price and never get to make another deposit into your account and eventually you are overdrawn. Lately, I'd been feeling like I was standing at the counter, the cashier always closing the window in my face.

I wasn't paying much attention as I walked back toward the truck, but after a while I became aware of some movement to my right and turned my head in time to catch a glimpse of what I thought was the same border collie-but then thought again.

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Land of Wolves 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have enjoyed another trip to Wyoming in this book. I enjoy Craig Johnson's style and stories. He always leaves me a little something besides the story and I thank him for that.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A great story. Read the whole book in one day. Great suspenseful ending.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I+really+enjoyed+this+one+Craig.....Radar.....
Anonymous 3 months ago
I%27m+always+a+bit+sad+when+I+finish+++one+of+these+stories.%0AC+Johnson+is+perhaps+the+finest+writer+of+this+genre++and+he+always+leaves+me+wishing+for+more.....+BRAVO%21%21%21
Anonymous 4 months ago
Craig Johnson has done it again.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Thank you for all of the great Longmire books. Do not think I have ever been disappointed. I would ask one thing for you to consider, Please make the stories longer.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great read as usual, however, it has been so long coming that I had to go back and read "Depth of winter" just to catch up.
Anonymous 4 months ago
heartfelt and well written
Anonymous 4 months ago
I didn't like the last outing but this book is great return to form and reminiscent of the earlier books of the series. plain magic.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Johnson keeps setting the bar higher for challenging plots and fascinating characters. I read it in less than 2 days.
Anonymous 6 days ago
4.5 stars Hallelujah! Sheriff Walt is back where he belongs in Absaroka County. After what I considered to be the eye-rolling over-the-top debacle of his last book, I was thrilled to read a Longmire classic. This has all the elements we have grown to love: A lot of humor, a little poignancy, some adventure and a bit of mysticism, all wrapped up in a mystery waiting to be untangled. Sheriff Walt is investigating the death of a sheep, possibly by a wolf, when the body of a shepherd is discovered. Was it murder or suicide? While the county residents inflame themselves with wolf hysteria, Walt is trying to figure it out. His superhero antics in the last book did not leave him unmarked. His physical recovery is slow and painful and he is also experiencing weird conscious blackouts which last for several minutes and have his staff plenty worried. This was a most pleasurable read, intelligent and often funny. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Seemed a little slow and written differently. Maybe watching the TV version spoiled the characters for me. Bummer.
stickerooniDM 4 months ago
Sheriff Walt Longmire is back in Absaroka County, Wyoming after his intense adventure in Mexico in the previous book in the Longmire series. Now things are back to normal ... or as normal as things get for cowboy-throwback sheriff. Sheep are being killed and the ranchers are concerned because a wolf has been spotted (by Walt himself), despite the fact that there haven't been wolves in Wyoming in a long time. A lone shepherd is found dead by hanging in the mountains in what could be a suicide but could also be a homicide. The son-in-law of one of the most dangerous men in the county pays a surprise visit. A woman previously unknown to Walt, doing research in the mountains, knows a little too much about the stray wolf and the dead man. And an internet personality with a webshow about seeking out and naming/shaming pedophiles may have a connection to Absaroka County. Yup, back to normal. As much as I really liked the energy and intensity of the previous book, I preferred having Walt back in familiar territory. He's still not 100%, physically (or mentally), due to what he endured in Mexico - in fact, his department has a pool going in anticipation of his next breakdown, and they're also keeping an eye on him, trying to keep him out of trouble (without much success). Author Craig Johnson has had wonderful success with this Longmire series in part, I think, because we get the story through Walt's perspective and despite his almost super-human efforts at times, he's very relate-able - mostly because he struggles. He struggles to make sense of things, and to get through his daily life, and to stay connected to the only family he has left, and also to do his job. We may not make life and death decisions the way Walt Longmire does, but we do understand a daily struggle. Bringing this story back home provides some comfort (for Walt as well as for the reader), but Johnson doesn't make the welcome home very easy. There is a lot going on here, with multiple plots, and it's anybody's guess if the stories will merge and become part of one big story, or if Walt has to end up solving different cases in the course of this book. I enjoyed this book. Opening a book to a Walt Longmire story just feels 'right.' We know we're in for a strong, morally straight man who will push through everything thrown at him in order to solve a problem or right a wrong. And even if you've never read a Walt Longmire story before, you could pick this up and read it with no problem. Looking for a good book? Land of Wolves by Craig Johnson is the fifteenth book in the Walt Longmire series and brings Sheriff Longmire back to Wyoming for a couple of different mysteries inside his own county. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
read4fungran 4 months ago
I have all of Craig Johnson's books and have reread most of them. I love the way he writes and i love the characters, especially Walt, Lucien, Henry and even Vic. I hope he never ends the series...I would mis them all. This new adventure does not disappoint. If you like smart engaging dialog, you'll love this book and all the previous Longmire stories. Keep'em coming, Mr. Johnson. I am a real fan. Thank you for sharing.
Anonymous 4 months ago
diane92345 5 months ago
Sheriff Walt Longmire is back home in Wyoming and deep in the Land of Wolves, both the four and the two-legged kind. Walt is still suffering both mentally and physically from his horrendous trip to Mexico in his last book, Depth of Winter. He continues to have body aches, which slows down his investigation of a Chilean sheep herder’s murder. More disturbing are the fugues where his brain shuts off for several minutes and his body remains staring into space. And who, or what, is the gigantic wolf that only appears to him? The townspeople want to kill it but Walt’s buddy Henry Standing Bear is convinced it is a reincarnated shaman sent to help Longmire. It seems like a relaxing trip home when I read a Longmire book. Relationships begun many books ago continue to morph and grow. As Walt ages, he gets even more philosophical. Is he really ready for retirement? Can he create a bridge back to his family after their terrible Mexican ordeal? I can’t overemphasize the importance of reading this series in order. If you do start with Land of Wolves, you will find an enthralling police procedural but will miss many of the subtle reflections on the nature of life. 4 stars! Thanks to Viking and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
3no7 5 months ago
“Land of Wolves” By Craig Johnson is book fifteen in “The Longmire” Series. Craig Johnson is a storyteller with few equals and presents a current-day plot that is reminiscent of the timeless musical “Oklahoma” where the sheepherders and the cattlemen are just not friends; throw in a rogue wolf and everyone becomes an enemy. Regular readers will find Walt back in familiar territory. New readers will find that any needed backstories are included in the current story, and past tragedies are mentioned in casual discussions; “’You still don’t look so good, Sheriff.’ I sighed a wheezing laugh. ‘I’ve had a rough couple of months.’” The book is a first person narrative by Absaroka County sheriff Walter “Walt” Longmire and his hundred and forty‑five pounds of canine mix dog, “Dog.” All the usual characters from make appearances or are mentioned within the context of this new adventure including Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Santiago Saizarbitoria, undersheriff Vic Victoria Moretti, dispatcher Ruby, and even Walt’s daughter and grand‑daughter so many miles away. Johnson immediately introduces readers to Wyoming and its geography. “It’s hard to think of a place in Wyoming where the wind doesn’t reign supreme” Readers get to know Walt through his thoughts and reflections; after all, this is his story from the start to the inevitable tragic finish. The action unfolds in Walt’s casual but familiar style, and readers hear what he says to other people; “You’ve just shot at a police officer, which is a serious offense, so I would advise you to hold your fire.” He talks directly to readers; “You had to really be paying attention to see what happened next, but I had witnessed Henry in these situations before, so I knew what was going to happen.” He shares his thoughts; “I stood there for a moment looking at her— I like doing that to convince people that I’m angry, although all I really am is tired.” Walt focuses his investigation on the who, what, where, and why of the incident, but he finds lots of questions and few if any answers. He pays attention to every detail; “I stopped for a moment, noticing some carvings on one of the trees. They were fresh, and I could make out the general design but not their meaning. Pulling out a small field notepad, I copied the designs and then returned it to the inside pocket of my jacket.” In a major newsworthy development, Walt is being dragged, kicking and screaming into at least the 20th Century. (Not the 21st but close) “Leaning a little to one side, I could see a large box sitting on my desk. 'What the heck is it?’ ‘A computer.’ ‘This is just the slippery slope towards a cell phone.’” Be sure to read the acknowledgements; Johnson, a true storyteller, takes every opportunity to share his craft. I received a review copy of “Land of Wolves” from Craig Johnson, Viking, and Penguin Random House. Walt as always, is true to himself. “’Walt Longmire, Sheriff.’ I took off my hat and stopped at the edge of the porch.”