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A Serpent's Tooth: A Walt Longmire Mystery    by Craig Johnson order for
Serpent's Tooth
by Craig Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire mystery series (that began with The Cold Dish) is the inspiration for A&E's Longmire. A Serpent's Tooth is the ninth book in the Wyoming series. Though I hadn't read any previous entries and did miss some references to past events, I had no trouble following this episode.

It's almost homecoming time in Absaroka County and the town is 'black-and-orange crazy.' At a funeral, elderly Barbara Thomas mentions angels assisting her with home repair. When Walt and his feisty young deputy (and lover) Victoria Moretti investigate, they catch Cord Lynear, a Mormon lost boy who is looking for his missing mother. Amongst his few possessions is an antique Book of Mormon, with an inscription to someone named Orrin.

When he looks into the boy's origins, Walt finds a Lynear clan of Mormon polygamists (the Apostolic Church of the Lamb of God), with locations in different counties and stockpiles of weapons. He also locates Cord's grandmother, Eleanor Tisdale whose husband Dale died a few years before in a plane crash in Mexico. As always, Walt's friend Henry Standing Bear ('the Cheyenne Nation') has his back - a good thing, given his headstrong approach to the problems that arise.

This novel is filled with colorful characters, especially Cord's elderly protector, the self styled Orrin Porter Rockwell ('one of the most intriguing and mythical historical figures of the American West'), who mysteriously appears and disappears as events unfold. And there are puzzles a 'plenty. Such as, what are the cultists doing with 'a polycrystalline diamond Hughes tricone drilling bit'?

When someone close to Walt is attacked, he goes on the warpath, leading into an explosive conclusion to an unusual and complex mystery - which ends aptly with a black-and-orange corsage. I recommend it to you and plan to seek out earlier entries in this excellent series.

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