Next to Last Stand

Viking. (Walt Longmire, Bk. 16). Sept. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780525522539. $28. M
When Charley Lee Stillwater, a veteran of two wars, dies at the Veterans’ Home of Wyoming, his remaining possessions stir up trouble for Sheriff Walt Longmire. Charley’s room is packed with paintings, art books, and a shoebox with a million dollars in cash; it appears he died after winning at bingo, but Walt is waiting for test results. He’s as intrigued about an old strange canvas found in Charley’s room as he is about the cash. It seems to be a painting of the Battle of Little Bighorn, what Native Americans call “The Battle of the Greasy Grass.” Before it can be authenticated, the canvas is stolen. Walt’s investigation of art and money soon turns into a murder case as, one by one, his suspects disappear or die.
VERDICT After Depth of Winter and Land of Wolves, Johnson lightens the atmosphere in this complex, thought-provoking mystery that highlights art and Western history, emphasizing the contrast between Native accounts and white history. The author’s poetic turns of phrase, witty dialog, and one of the funniest, most memorable chase scenes in a novel combine to make this a winner.

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