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Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson – Where European winters seem summery

February 14, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson (2010) French title: Molosses. Translated by Sophie Aslanides.

I’m back in Wyoming in Absaroka county in this 6th volume of Craig Johnson’s Longmire series.

Unfortunately, that’s where Johnson’s paperbacks started to be published by Points instead of Gallmeister and the books are not as nice as before. The cover is a cheap picture instead of an original drawing and the paper isn’t as thick. Gallmeister keeps publishing the hardbacks and manages the translation while Points has taken over the paperback ones.

I don’t know who made the decision but it’s not a good one for readers who enjoy nice paper books. I guess either I’ll get the hardback or I’ll get the ebook in English.

Back to Junkyard Dogs. It’s February and the winter in brutal. Imagine that they have electric plugs on parking meters so that you can warm your car. Let’s not complain about a little bit of snow in Western Europe, right?

This episode opens on a weird scene that only Longmire seems to get himself into:

I tried to get a straight answer from his grandson and granddaughter-in-law as to why their grandfather has been tied with a hundred feet of nylon rope to the rear bumper of the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado.

I stared at the horn pad and rested my forehead on the rim of my steering wheel.

The old man was alright and being tended to in the EMT van behind us, but that hadn’t prevented me from lowering my face in a dramatic display of bewilderment and despair. I was tired, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the young couple or the season.

The old man is Geo and the young couple are Duane and Gina. Geo runs the local junkyard and is at odds with his neighbor Ozzie Dobbs Junior. He bought the land adjacent to the junkyard to build a luxury housing development. The proximity of the junkyard cramps his style and for two years now, Dobbs has been trying to move the junkyard and car scrap yard from Geo’s land to other premises in the State. There’s no lost love between Geo and Dobbs, but it’s another story between Geo and Dobbs’ mother.

Then a human thumb is found in the junkyard and the sheriff opens an investigation to find out to whom it belonged. It’s an opportunity to motivate Deputy Saizarbitoria who has trouble recovering from taking a bullet in a previous investigation and from the birth of his son, who is not sleeping. A change of job sounds appealing to him at the moment but Longmire wants to keep him on the team. Hence the motivational thumb investigation.

The severed thumb mystery leads the Sheriff to another kind of crime operated on the junkyard premises.

Life is never boring when you’re sheriff in the Absaroka county.

*sigh* I never know how to write properly about crime fiction books, I’m always wary of giving away too much of the plot and spoil another reader’s fun. I was glad to spend another moment in Longmire’s company. The team at the sheriff’s office are as fun as usual and Craig Johnson never lacks of plot ideas. It’s not Pulitzer Prize material but it’s entertaining, good fun and well-written.

  1. February 14, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Don’t sigh! You’ve set the scene and if we have any imagination worth speaking of we can take it from there. What I really want to know is what the (120 volt, I think) power runs in the car. Though I have read that you can get powered sites at US truck stops so you don’t have to run your engine all night to stay unfrozen (not a problem here!)


    • February 16, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      Sorry, I can’t help you more about the power thing. It was just a comment in passing and these are the little details that make the salt of this series.


  2. February 14, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    A friend absolutely loves this series, but I haven’t read any yet. I do love those original drawn covers designed by Darren Welch though, they always draw the eye.


    • February 16, 2021 at 9:44 pm

      It’s a great series. The characters are well-developed and feel like a remote family you get news from, occasionnally. There’s also a great sense of place and you can feel that Craig Johnson knows the area and enjoy the people around him.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. February 16, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    This is the Craig Johnson novel I read, checked out from the Lyon public library.

    I will say what I especially liked about it, aside form the characters and setting.

    1. No false climaxes. I have read too many mysteries that end every single chapter with a surprise or cliffhanger, most of them basically phony. Maybe this is advice from “how to write mystery” books? When Johnson has a surprise at the end of a chapter, it is a real one, important to the story.

    2. Johnson takes time to just hang out with the characters. The scene I especially remember is in a bar, where Longmire and a bartender watch Vic dance to Lucinda Williams’s version of AC/DC’s “Long Way to the Top.” This in not important to the story, but important to the characters. It’s a good scene.


    • February 16, 2021 at 10:11 pm

      I totally agree with you about “hanging out with his characters” It’s like we know this group of people. There are a lot of details about them that are not there for the plot but just to take us with him in his fictional county.


  4. February 17, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Always great to find a series you like. I gave the television adaptation a go and didn’t care for it. Seemed cliched.


    • February 18, 2021 at 7:39 am

      I heard the series is not as good as the books. As Tom pointed it out in his comment, part of the charm of the books comes from these casual scenes with the characters, to share their everyday life.


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