I love this series and it never lets me down. And it didn't this time, either, though I did sense a change in tone. Johnson has a particular sense of humor that seems casual and learned at the same time. It is the result of thoughtful living, with the kind of distance that only long life can bestow. The same jokes or asides on the lips of a younger person would seem impertinent or studied, but somehow Johnson’s observations bring to mind that old cowboy hat Longmire uses--capacious enough to keep off a cold rain, but bruised and ratty with time and has seen better days.
Our old man sheriff has changed a bit--more hardbitten, furious, and full of vengeance. He is less composed and sure of himself and knows perhaps too much of the range of human cruelty. As a result, he is jumpy when it comes to criminal acts, and doesn’t always display that generous and reassuring control that I so appreciate in a law enforcement officer. He needs to be reminded to consider before exacting revenge for a loathsome act of arson.
Longmire references his mountain trip a few stories back in the series—the one where he very nearly met his maker—as a reason for his declining robustness and lack of patience when it comes to chasing suspects. He still takes extraordinary risks in his professional life: witness the fire rescue and facing the man who can throw a stiletto switchblade with uncanny accuracy. It is a little curious then, that Longmire doesn’t display that same risk-taking behavior in his personal life and grab hold of the opportunity that his beautiful and beloved deputy presents. He should jump her bones, marry her immediately, lock in that elusive chance for romantic happiness. At his age he should know how rare and fleeting a thing it is to find love, and how easily it slips away.
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