Book Reviews, Reviews

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson


I stumbled on the TV show Longmire in December, and ended up watching the first season in a couple of days (it’s only 13 episodes). The second season showed up on Netflix a few weeks ago, and I ended up watching that season in a couple of days, too. I was really looking forward to reading the books; so much so that I ended up buying the first four as a box set.

After being disappointed reading Fire in the Hole, I really wanted to enjoy this book. I did, but I ended up liking it way less than the TV show. This struck me as odd. I usually prefer the books to the show (especially the short-lived Dresden Files). After giving it quite a bit of thought, I think I figured out my problem with the book (vs the show).

In the show, Longmire doesn’t say much and he doesn’t joke around much unless it’s really dry. Because the book was written from his perspective, it’s basically impossible for the character to be represented in the same stoic, untalkative way. If it were, the book would be very short and very boring. The book itself was fine, but it just wasn’t at all what I expected. Most of the characters were significantly different from the show. Branch doesn’t even have the same name! (He’s Turk in the book.) The only character that was basically unchanged, luckily for me as he’s my favorite character, is Henry Standing Bear.

One thing that occurred to as I was reading it was that the TV show version of Longmire seemed very much like the stereotype of a strong, silent, cowboy-type. Those traits are all there in the book, but it’s severely downplayed. It is a part of his personality, but it isn’t the only part. I read somewhere that the book won some sort of award for the way it depicted life in Wyoming. I suspect the people of Wyoming wouldn’t have looked as kindly on the book if the character of Longmire was just the version from the show.

I don’t think there was anything wrong with the book. If I had read it before watching the show, I would probably prefer the book version of the character to the TV show version. But that isn’t how it worked out. I probably wouldn’t read another Longmire book, if it weren’t for the fact that I bought four in one shot. Hopefully I can get over myself enough to enjoy the next three.

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