Home > 2000, 21st Century, American Literature, Crime Fiction, Highly Recommended, Johnson Craig, Polar, TBR20 > Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson (2007) French title: L’indien blanc, translated by Sophie Aslanides.

Kindness Goes Unpunished is the third volume of the Longmire crime fiction series by Craig Johnson. (See my billets about The Cold Dish and Death Without Company  Longmire is the sheriff of the fictional Absaroka country in Wyoming. When the book opens Longmire is driving to Philadelphia to accompany his best friend Henry Standing Bear (The Bear) who is hosting an exhibition about Indian Art at the city museum. Longmire’s daughter Cady works at a law firm in Philly and she wants her father to meet with her boyfriend, something Longmire dreads a little bit. Philadelphia is also the hometown of Vic Moretti, Longmire’s second in command in the sheriff’s office in Wyoming. Her father and brothers work for the PPD. With three good reasons to visit Philadelphia, Longmire leaves his beloved Absaroka county for a trip to the city.

When Longmire and The Bear arrive in Philadelphia, Cady isn’t there to welcome them. She has been assaulted and is in a coma. Worried sick about her, Longmire starts digging to understand what happened to his only child. After all, he must occupy the time between painful visits to the hospital. This terrible event turns into an opportunity to meet Vic’s family, her mother as a support system and her father and brothers as policemen.

When Cady’s boyfriend Devon is murdered a few days after she was assaulted, it is clear that the attack against her wasn’t random and that Devon was involved in shady businesses. This is how our country sheriff gets sucked into a dangerous investigation about drug trafficking while getting to know Vic’s family.

What can I say? This series is good. The plot held my attention. The criminal investigation was interesting. With all the walks and rides in Philadelphia, it makes you want to visit the city and see the places for yourself. The characters are flowed and likeable. Their interactions are subtle. Craig Johnson explores their feelings with a light painter’s touch, drawing their inner thoughts and struggles, slowly building up relationships, the way they do in real life with daily small interactions.

The change of setting was a good idea, a way to build a bridge between Wyoming and Philadelphia, where Vic’s and Longmire’s families live. The personal lives of the characters move forward but without too many details, which still makes it possible to read this book without reading the previous ones. I like that there’s always something about Native Americans in his books. Here, far from Wyoming, they are present through The Bear’s exhibition, Cady’s work as a lawyer and a character from the criminal plot.

Craig Johnson’s writing is warm like Louise Penny’s, if you’ve ever read the Armand Gamache series. Both managed to create a set of characters the reader is happy to hear about and see how they are doing since the previous book. I’m slowly reading this series and I have three unread ones on the shelf, a comforting sight for future comfort reads.

  1. May 21, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    You’ve found a series you enjoy. As you say, that’s always comforting.


    • May 21, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      You can’t imagine what a comfort it was when I read it along For the Term of His Natural Life which was a difficult read for me.


      • May 21, 2018 at 5:25 pm

        I have For The Term… haven’t got to it yet and I’m not sure I will at this point. I like the whole Australian colonization period but it can be tough reading.


        • May 21, 2018 at 5:34 pm

          Well you liked Wuthering Heights better than me, you should be OK. Plus you’re a native English speaker, it helps.


  2. May 23, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I recall your other billets on this author’s work. How did you come across him? Was it through the Quai de Polar? It sounds as if this series has a strong sense of place (alongside the plot and characterisation). That’s always a good thing with crime fiction – it’s one of the things I look for in a mystery.


    • May 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      I don’t remember how I came across him. Probably his French publisher. I love their books. Oliver Gallmeister has a knack for finding great American literature.
      I also met Johnson and his fantastic French translator at Quais du Polar. Both very nice. She’s an excellent translator of his style. It sounds American even when it’s in French. It’s incredible.


  3. May 24, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve recently come across a different Wyoming crime series, by CJ Box, about a forest ranger. The sense of place, of mountain wilderness is remarkable, but as I should have noted, no First Nations people, not in the foreground anyway.


    • May 24, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      Johnson’s shows a lot of respect for Indian’s culture. It’s explained in the books along with the workings of the reserves. He doesn’t sugarcoat their living conditions but he shows how rich their culture is.

      This series is warm despite the freezing Wyoming weather. Craig Johnson is often in French literary festivals or signing books in bookshops here. He’s friendly and he’s close to his French translator. Their closeness is probably reflected in her translations and the general feeling is that you know these people in real life, it’s odd.


  4. May 28, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Exactly – I think you explain that warmth and human empathy which makes his work or that of Louise Penny so attractive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. May 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    It does sound like a very good series. These are on my radar for some time in the future thanks to you, but I just don’t have space for the series I have presently. Still, I can definitely see the appeal.


    • June 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Choices, choices…
      It is a very good series and I totally understand the hesitation to start a new one.


  1. October 9, 2019 at 9:11 pm

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