Daughter of the Morning Star, the 17th book in Craig Johnson’s riveting mystery series, proves that Sheriff Walt Longmire does his best work on the page, even compared to the acclaimed Netflix adaptation of the series, “Longmire.”
Longmire walks a fine line, serving the predominantly white populace of Absaroka County, Wyoming, as well as the members of the Cheyenne Indian Nation who live on the local reservation. When Chief Lolo Long of the Cheyenne Tribal Police asks for his assistance in investigating death threats against her niece, Jaya Long, the standout star of the Lame Deer Lady Stars high school basketball team, Longmire’s penchant for justice makes it easy to say yes.
With the help of his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, Longmire begins an intensive investigation that he believes is tied into the disappearance of Jaya’s older sister, Jeanie, a year ago. Jeanie was with friends on her way back from a party in Billings, Montana, when their van broke down. While repairs were being made, she wandered off, never to be seen again.
Longmire and Bear take the usual route of interviewing all of Jeanie’s contacts, hoping to find something the police or FBI missed. Some of the witnesses are helpful enough; some, not so much. A farmer, Lyndon Iron Bull, claims to have seen her singing in a snowstorm and warns of an ancient Cheyenne legend known as Wandering Without, “a spiritual hole that devours souls.”
Writing from Longmire’s point of view for the entirety of this fast-paced mystery, Johnson uses crisp prose and sharp dialogue to create a sense of immediacy as the investigation moves toward its inevitable, thrilling conclusion. The case also allows Johnson to incorporate horrifying statistics about how young Native American women are substantially more likely to be murdered, to be sexually assaulted or to commit suicide than the national average. Longmire knows that what happened to Jeanie and what’s threatening Jaya lie anywhere along that spectrum, and that’s what scares him. As readers, you’ll be scared too.