“Kindness Goes Unpunished – Walt Longmire #3” by Craig Johnson – Walt goes to the big bad city.

The third Walt Longmire mystery was a bit of a departure from its predecessors and I found the results rather mixed.

Walt is accompanying Henry Standing Bear to Philadelphia where Henry will exhibit the Mennonite Pictures of the Cheyenne that he has unearthed. Walt is visiting his lawyer daughter, Katie and her new fiancé and has reluctantly agreed to visit with Vics Morretti’s family, a dominant presence in the PPD, who have insisted on meeting him.

From these fish-out-of-water beginnings, we’re launched into a mystery that involves multiple murders, puts Katie in the hospital and makes Walt first chief suspect and later reluctantly accepted consultant to two PPD Homicide Detectives.

Seeing Walt applying his “track the prey and stalk them stealthily” approach to detection in the context of a big city where he does not know everybody was good fun, as was watching Henry compensate for some of his friend’s abrasiveness while still backing him up. It was interesting to see more of Katie’s life and better to understand Walt’s relationship with her. The introduction of the Morretti family did a lot to explain Vic’s outspoken behaviour and her confidence.

What I didn’t enjoy so much was seeing Walt so relatively isolated. The first two books have a more ensemble feel to them. I missed the other characters and found myself less sympathetic to Walt in his, mostly self-imposed, isolation. The “White Indian” conceit was clever. It let Walt leverage his background and it linked neatly to Philadelphia’s historic statues but as it went on it began to feel like a stretch. By the time I got to an on-horseback confrontation between Walt and the main suspect, I was beginning to lose patience.

Then the was the sex scene. That caught me by surprise both because I didn’t expect there to be one and because I didn’t expect it to be between the two people involved. I didn’t find it entirely convincing. Maybe I didn’t want to be convinced because too many of my expectations and assumptions were being shaken up at the one time and making me uncomfortable, or maybe I’m just getting old but something about this didn’t fit.

The story ended with Walt still in Philadelphia. I have the next book in my TBR pile. I’m hoping Walt heads home to Wyoming soon and that the next instalment adds some credibility to what happened in Philadelphia and puts Walt back into an environment where I understand him.

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