by Craig Johnson

Penguin Books, $14.00, 306 pages

Long suffering, small town sheriff, Walt Longmire, wrestles with disgruntled deputies, jailbirds, and organized criminals in the sixth book of the Longmire series. In Junkyard Dogs, author Craig Johnson has elevated narrative drive to an exceptional level. Not only is his mystery insightful and intriguing, but he manages to create characters that are funny, irreverent, and soulfully realistic.

The story is set in a bleak Wyoming winter that becomes its own character in the twisted saga involving multiple homicides. With temperatures in the sub-zero range, the sheriff’s department begins an investigation into a severed thumb that turns up in a local junkyard. The colorful, local junkyard owner is known for having as many lives as a cat. When the junkman ends up dead, Longmire suspects foul play.

Johnson’s ability to tease his readers along with brilliant cliffhangers and unexpected turns may make him one of the best mystery writers of this decade. When coupled with his ability to slide in historical and literary references without hubris, he may become of the best mystery writers of the century.

If this is a reader’s first introduction to the Longmire series, they might benefit from familiarizing themselves with the various nicknames for the characters. Johnson jumps around from formal names to various sobriquets, which can be confusing.

Sheli Ellsworth