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Next to Last Stand: A Longmire Mystery    by Craig Johnson order for
Next to Last Stand
by Craig Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Next to Last Stand follows Land of Wolves as the sixteenth in Craig Johnson's outstanding series starring veteran sheriff Walt Longmire who lives and works in Absaroka, Wyoming. Longmire is strong yet sensitive, competent yet fallible, self assured yet vulnerable. His oldest friend, Henry Standing Bear ('the Cheyenne Nation') always has his back, while his feisty undersheriff (and lover) Victoria Moretti keeps him on his toes.

This episode is all about art history, in particular the fate of the painting of Custer's Last Fight, believed destroyed in a 1946 fire at the 7th Cavalry Headquarters in Fort Bliss, Texas. Walt has had a long relationship with veterans at the Wyoming Home for Soldiers & Sailors, in particular with Charley Lee Stillwater. When the latter dies, his effects are found to include 'a cool million' in cash, paintings and archaeological artifacts. There's also a small vivid canvas showing an Indian warrior in a death struggle with a mustachioed cavalryman.

Readers hear various historical accounts of Little Bighorn, including Henry's, as Walt has the canvas assessed by an art expert. He suspects that Charley Lee was murdered, and there are more deaths. 'The borscht thickens' with a Russian connection. The wonderful grand finale is a veterans' wheelchair chase after the killer. Don't miss Next to Last Stand!

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