(32. – 962.) An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson – Sheriff Walt Longmire travels with Henry Standing Bear to Hulett in northeast Wyoming. But for one week a year Hulett is best known as the nearest town to the Devils Tower, America’s first national monument.
A short distance across the border is Rapid City, South Dakota. Even closer is Sturgis. Walt and Henry arrive at the beginning of the week long motorcycle rally held annually at Sturgis. Hundreds of thousands of motorcycles and their drivers make the trek each year to Sturgis. Many drift over to Hulett.
They roll into town in Henry’s 1959 blue Thunderbird, named Lola in honour of a past love of Henry, and towing, on a trailer, Henry’s motorcycle (Lucie) and his dirt bike (Rosalie).
Walt has been asked, informally, to help investigate a motorcycle accident in which a young man, Bodaway “B-way” Torres, was badly injured. It appears he was knocked off the highway.
Henry has come to enter the Jackpine Gypsies Hill Climb. He won the race in 1974. With grudging acceptance of age he tells Walt it will be his last climb.
The situation becomes far more complicated when they encounter:
Lots of women perfect the sway at some point in their lives, but few get the rumble that this one had in spades. She was probably in her fifties, her dark hair with a sharp strand of silver in the middle swept back from her forehead. Very tall, and dressed in a simple black tank top and jeans, she split the crowd like an icebreaker, …. He (Henry) smiled broadly, and the woman did a hair flip I would’ve given a 9.5, stepped in front of Henry, and then slapped the Bear’s face with a tooth-shattering report.
Her image is completed by her car. She drives a “dilapidated, slightly dented, faded gold’66 Cadillac DeVille”.
She is “the” Lola and she is the mother of Bodaway. Lola Wojciechowski creates drama wherever she goes.
Lola wants Henry to investigate her son’s accident. Henry, generally eager to help, is uninterested. He does not trust Lola. She turns to Walt and asks him not to let her down. The knight errant will do her biding though Henry advises:
“Not all fair maidens are worthy of rescue, Walt.”
Bodaway is a patched member of the Tre Tre Nomads, a band of outlaw bikers, in never ending conflict with the Hell’s Angels and other outlaw biker clubs.
The investigation is hampered by the distractions of biker week and the thousands of bikers in the area.
Brady Post, enforcer of the Tre Tre Nomads, establishes an uneasy relationship with Walt.
Henry’s race is epic. I find myself enjoying the personal adventures of the lead characters as much or more than the investigations.
It gradually becomes apparent in the investigation that Bodaway was carrying something on the motorcycle that was of great value to someone.
Bodaway’s cell phone lists multiple calls with Billy ThE Kiddo, star of a moderately successful T.V. reality show. Walt and his undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, visit ThE’s custom motorcycle business, The Chop Shot. ThE after a run-in at the shop with Walt shows creativity when he gets against the Sheriff “a restraining order, harassment, and a charge of cease and desist”.
The investigation proceeds, as common with recent Longmire books, to a Hollywood ending featuring the MRAP of the Hulett police department. Thankfully there are few bodies.
Through the book Henry quotes periodically from the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. The title comes from:
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
It is a good Longmire book and I will read the next in the series. I am glad there is humour back in Walt Longmire’s life. With the T.V. series now over maybe the book series can cease the Hollywood styling.
****Johnson, Craig – (2007) - The Cold Dish; (Best Fiction of 2007); (2008) - Death Without Company; (2008) - Kindness Goes Unpunished (Third Best Fiction of 2008); (2009) - Another Man’s Moccasins; (2011) - The Dark Horse; (2011) - Junkyard Dogs; (2012) - Hell is Empty; (2013) As the Crow Flies; (2013) - Longmire T.V. Series; (2014) - A Serpent's Tooth; (2015) - Radio in Indigenous Mystery Series; (2015) - Any Other Day; (2015) - Where is the Walt Longmire Series Headed; (2016) - Musings on the 5th Season of Longmire; (2017) - Dry Bones and Is the Largest T-Rex in Saskatchewan?; Hardcover