Kindness Goes Unpunished: A Longmire Mystery

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9780143113133: Kindness Goes Unpunished: A Longmire Mystery

Walt brings Western-style justice to Philadelphia in this action-packed thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dry Bones, the third in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for the hit Netflix original series LONGMIRE

Craig Johnson's new novel, The Western Star, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.


Walt Longmire has been Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for almost a quarter of a century, but when he joins his good friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to see his daughter, Cady, he's in for a shock. Walt hasn't even put his boots up when Cady is viciously attacked and left near death on the steps of the Franklin Institute. He soon discovers that she has unwittingly become involved in a deadly political cover-up. Backed by Henry, Dog, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and the entire Moretti posse of Philadelphia police officers, Walt unpacks his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice.

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About the Author:

Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries, the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire. He is the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for fiction, the Nouvel Observateur Prix du Roman Noir, and the Prix SNCF du Polar. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED

 

 

 

1

 

 

I didn’t wear my gun. They had said that it was going to be easy and, like the fool I am, I believed them. They said that if things got rough to make sure I showed the pictures, of which there were only twenty-three; I had already shown all of them twice. “‘Long, long ago, there lived a king and queen...’”

I looked around the room for a little backup, but there wasn’t anyone there. They had said that I didn’t have to worry, that they wouldn’t leave me alone, but they had. “‘...who didn’t have any children. One day, the queen was visited by a wise fairy, who told her, “You will have a lovely baby girl.” The king was so overjoyed when he heard the news that he immediately made plans for a great feast. He invited not only his relatives, but also the twelve fairies who lived in the kingdom.’”

“Where’s your gun?”

My thought exactly. “I didn’t think I was going to need it.” They all nodded, but I wasn’t particularly sure they agreed.

“How long have you been a sheriff?”

“Twenty-three years.” It just seemed like a million.

“Do you know Buffalo Bill?”

Maybe it was a million. “No, he was a little before my time.”

“My daddy says you’re a butt hole.”

I looked down at the battered book in my hands. “Okay, maybe we should concentrate on today’s story...”

“He says you used to drive around drunk all the time...”

The instigator in the front row looked like a little angel but had a mouth like a stevedore. He was getting ready to say something else, so I cut him off by holding up Grimm’s Fairy Tales open to the page where the young princess had been enchanted and put to sleep for a hundred years. “Why do you think the fairy visited the queen?” A dark-haired girl with enormous eyes who sat in the third row slowly raised her hand. “You?”

She cocked her head in disgust. “I told you, my name is Anne.”

I nodded mine in contrition. “Right. Anne, why do you think the fairy visited the queen?”

“Because their daughter is going to fall asleep.” She said it slowly, with the hearty contempt even young people have for civil servants who can’t get it right.

“Well, yep, but that happens later on because one of the fairies gets angry, right?” Anne raised her hand again, but I ignored her for a slight redheaded boy in the back. His name was Rusty, and I quietly thanked the powers that be for word association. “Rusty?”

“My dad says that my Uncle Paul is a fairy.”

I’m not sure when it was that my storytelling abilities began to atrophy, but it must have been somewhere between Sesame Street and The Electric Company. I think I used to be pretty good at it, but that was a long time ago. I was going to have to ask my daughter if that really was the case; she was now “The Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time” and a Philadelphia lawyer. When I had spoken to Cady last night, she had still been at the office library in the basement. I felt sorry for her till she told me the basement was on the twenty-eighth floor. My friend Henry Standing Bear said that the law library was where all the lawyers went to sleep at about $250 an hour.

“You are the worstest storyteller we ever had.”

I looked down at another would-be literary critic who had been silent up till now and wondered if maybe I had made a mistake with “Brier Rose.” Cady had loved the story dearly at an earlier age, but the current enrollment appeared to be a little sophisticated for the material.

“My daddy hides his medicine whenever anybody knocks on our door.”

I tried not to concentrate on this child’s name. I propped the book back up on my knee and looked at all of them, the future of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

“He says he doesn’t have a prescription.”

I was supposed to make the drive to Philadelphia tomorrow with Henry. He had received an invitation to lecture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with his Mennonite photograph collection in tow. I thought it would be an opportunity to visit my daughter and meet the lawyer who was the latest of her conquests. The relationship had lasted about four months, a personal record for her, so I decided that it was time I met the prospective son-in-law.

“His medicine makes him fall down.”

Henry was planning on driving Lola. I had tried to talk him into flying, but it had been a while since he had driven across the country and he said he wanted to check things out. The real reason was he wanted to make an entrance with the powder blue 1959 Thunderbird convertible; the Bear was big on entrances.

“He smokes his medicine.”

We were going for only a week, but Cady was very excited about introducing us to Devon Conliffe, who sounded like a character from The Philadelphia Story. I had warned her that lawyers shouldn’t marry other lawyers, that it only led to imbecile paralegals.

“My mommy says the only thing his medicine does is keep him from getting a job.”

Patti with an “i,” my daughter’s secretary, agreed with me about lawyer interbreeding. We had talked about the relationship, and I could just make out a little reservation in Patti’s voice when she mentioned him.

“He’s my third daddy.”

We were supposed to have dinner with the elder Conliffes at their palatial home in Bryn Mawr, an event I was looking forward to like a subcutaneous wound.

“I liked my second daddy best.”

It would be interesting to see their response to the Indian and his faithful sidekick, the sheriff of Absaroka County. They probably wouldn’t open the gate.

“I don’t remember my first daddy.”

I looked up at the kid and reopened the book. “‘Long, long ago, there lived a king and queen who didn’t have any children...’”

 

Dorothy Caldwell turned toward the patties on the griddle behind her, lifted the press, and turned them. “What’d you read?”

I pulled Cady’s personal copy from the stool beside me and sat it on the counter. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. “Brier Rose”—“Sleeping Beauty” before Hollywood got hold of it.

She gave me a sideways look and then leaned over to glance at the love-worn cover. “Kindergarten?” She shrugged a shoulder as she placed the meat press aside. “Kids have gotten a little jaded since Cady’s generation, Walter.”

I set my glass down. “Well, I don’t have to do it again until after the election.” She slipped the hamburger, lettuce, tomato, and bacon onto a toasted bun and slid the plate toward me. “The usual?”

She nodded at the old joke, sipped at her own tea, and peeked at me over the rim. “I hear Kyle Straub is going to run.”

I nodded and put mayonnaise on my burger, a practice she hated. “Yep, I’ve seen the signs.” The prosecuting attorney had jumped the gun this morning and placed his red-white-and-blue signs in all the strategic spots around town before finding out for sure if I was really going to run again. So far, it had been the strongest motivation that I had had to continue my tenure.

“Prosecuting attorney/sheriff.” She paused for effect. “Kind of gives you an indication as to what his administration would be like.”

I thought about my original plan, to run for sheriff, put in half a term, and then hand the reins over to Vic, allowing her to prove herself for two years before having to face a general election. I chewed a chunk of burger. “You think Vic would make a good sheriff?”

Dorothy slipped a wayward lock behind her ear and looked past me. Her hair was getting longer, and I wondered if she was growing it out. The answer to my question about Vic, like everything else about Dorothy, was definitive. “Why don’t we ask her?”

I fought the urge to turn and look out onto Main Street, where I’m sure a handsome, dark-haired woman was parking a ten-year-old unit in front of the Busy Bee Cafe. Wyoming had never elected a female sheriff and the chances of their electing an Italian from Philadelphia with a mouth like a saltwater crocodile were relatively slim.

“She’s got the Basquo with her.” There was a pause as I continued eating my lunch. “Those two are quite the pair.”

Santiago Saizarbitoria had joined our little contingency three months ago and, with the exception of trying to put out a chimney fire single-handedly on an ice-slicked roof, had proven himself indispensable. I listened as the door opened and closed, the laden April air drifting through the brief opening. They sat on the stools beside me and threw their elbows onto the counter. In identical uniforms and service jackets, they could have been twins, except that the Basquo was bigger, with wrists like bundled cables, and had a goatee, and he didn’t have the tarnished gold eyes that Vic had.

I kept eating as Dorothy pulled two mugs from under the counter, poured them full, and pushed the cream dispenser and the sugar toward the old world pair. They both drank coffee all day. Vic slipped her finger through the handle of her cup. “How was this afternoon’s premiere at Durant Elementary?”

I took another sip of my iced tea. “I don’t think we’ll make the long run.”

She tore open five sugars and dumped them in her mug. “I been here two years. How come they never fucking asked me?”

I set my glass back down. “It’s hard to read nursery rhymes with a tape delay.”

She stirred the coffee into the sugar and spoke into the mug. “That monkey pud Kyle Straub’s got signs up all over town.”

“Yep, I heard.”

Saizarbitoria leaned in and joined the conversation. “Vern Selby was talking very highly about Mr. Straub in the paper yesterday.”

“Yep, I read it.”

All our radios blared for a second. Static. “Unit two, 10-54 at 16, mile marker four.”

We looked at one another. Ruby had made a crusade of using the ten code in the last few weeks, and it was turning out to be a royal pain in the ass for all of us. I was the first one to guess. “Intoxicated driver?”

Vic was next. “Road blocked...”

Saizarbitoria took one last sip of his coffee and slipped off his stool; he knew the chain of command. He clicked the mic on his radio. “Ten fifty-four, roger.” He looked at the two of us and shook his head. “Livestock on the road.”

Vic and I shrugged at each other as she tossed him the keys. She sipped her sugar as he hurried out. “Do let us know.”

 

Vic hitched a ride with me. As we walked up the steps of the old Carnegie Library that housed the Absaroka County jail and offices, I could smell her shampoo and the crab apple blossoms. We were about halfway up the steps when she stopped me with a hand on my arm. I turned to look at her as she leaned against the iron railing and slid that same hand up the black-painted steel bar. I waited, but she just looked off toward Clear Creek, where the cottonwoods were already starting to leaf. She glanced back at me, irritated. “You still planning on leaving tomorrow morning?”

I adjusted the book of fairy tales under my arm. “That’s the plan, at least mine.”

She nodded. “I have a favor to ask.”

“Okay.”

She sniffed, and I watched as the wrinkles receded from the sides of her nose like cat whiskers. “My mother wants to have lunch with you and Cady.”

I waited a moment, thinking there must be more. “Okay.”

She continued to look off toward the creek. “Super Cop might be too busy, but my mother is feeling negligent in her attentions toward your daughter.” I watched as the muscles of her jaw flexed like they always did when she mentioned her father.

“Okay.”

“I mean...It’s not a big deal. She just wants to have lunch.”

I nodded again. “Okay.”

“You can go to my Uncle Alphonse’s pizzeria—it’s nothing special.”

I smiled and dipped my head to block her view. “I said okay.”

She looked at me. “It’s a family thing, and like most of the family things concerning my family, it’s fucked up.” She sighed. “I mean...they should have gotten in touch with her a long time before this, but in their usual, fucked-up way...”

“We’ll have lunch.” I watched as she studied her Browning tactical boots. Her dark hair stood up in tufts of dissatisfaction. “I would love to meet any of your family.”

“Uh huh.” Nothing was ever easy with Vic; it was one of her charms. She started up the steps without me. “Just don’t expect too much.”

I shook my head, followed her, and caught the beveled-glass door as it swung back into my face. I gently closed it and walked by the photographs of the five previous Absaroka County sheriffs. I saluted the painting of Andrew Carnegie as I mounted the final steps to the dispatcher’s desk where Ruby sat reading the last series of updates from the Division of Criminal Investigation down in Cheyenne. “What the hell is a 10-54?”

She raised her blue eyes and gazed at me through her salt-with-no-pepper bangs. “Ferg says that he’s 10-6 today if he’s got to work the next week and a half solid, and I’m 10-42 as of five forty-five for my church’s ice-cream social.”

I decided to ignore the flurry of tens. “Did he go up to Tongue River Canyon?” She nodded. The Ferg was my part-time deputy who made a full-time habit of harassing the local aquatic life with his hand-tied flies. He was going to have to take up some of the slack while I was gone, so I didn’t begrudge him a day casting bits of fur and feather upon the waters. “Any Post-its?”

“Two, and that young man who is supposed to come in this afternoon.”

“What young man?”

She shook her head. “The young man from Sheridan who applied for the other deputy position in Powder Junction. He said he’d be here before five.”

I sat on the corner of her desk, looked at the time on her computer, and reached down to pet Dog. “Then he’s got twenty minutes.”

The beast’s head rose, and Ruby examined the scar that a bullet had left near his ear; a tongue the size of a dishwashing rag lapped my hand. “Lucian called to see if you’d forgotten it’s chess night.”

“Damn.” I was going to have to go over to the Durant Home for Assisted Living to see the old sheriff.

“Cady called.”

“She’s changed her mind and doesn’t want us to come after all?”

Ruby wadded up the second Post-it and dispatched it with the first. “Not likely. She says for you to bring along your gun because she wants to take you to her shooting club on Thursday.” We looked at each other for a moment, and then she raised an eyebrow. “Shooting club?”

I scratched the corner of my eye, where the scar tissue had healed. “It’s this thing that Devon Conliffe’s got her involved with.”

She smiled. “Devon Conliffe again?”

“Yep...” I didn’t sound all that thrilled, even to myself.

“This kid’s got you worried.”

She watched me scratch my eye for a moment longer, then reached up and pulled my hand away. I thought about it. “Methinks she doth protest too much.”

Ruby shook her head. “She’s scared you’re not going to like him.” She carefully released my hand. “He’s young, handsome, accomplished, and makes about six times what you do on an annual basis. He has wooed and infatuated the most beautiful, intelligent, and precious woman that you know.” She watched me with a smile. “It’s perfectly reasonable for you to hate him.” She batted her eyelashes. “Ten twenty-four?”

I looked at her for a moment, then ...

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Walt brings Western-style justice to Philadelphia in this action-packed thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dry Bones, the third in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for the hit Netflix original series LONGMIRE Craig Johnson s new novel, The Western Star, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017. Walt Longmire has been Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for almost a quarter of a century, but when he joins his good friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to see his daughter, Cady, he s in for a shock. Walt hasn t even put his boots up when Cady is viciously attacked and left near death on the steps of the Franklin Institute. He soon discovers that she has unwittingly become involved in a deadly political cover-up. Backed by Henry, Dog, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and the entire Moretti posse of Philadelphia police officers, Walt unpacks his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780143113133

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