‘An Obvious Fact’- Walt Longmire #12 by Craig Johnson

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated. 

As competing biker gangs, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur, and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. 

After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

This one was pure fun.

It didn’t move the story arc forward (which was maybe why it was fun – the revenge for Vic’s brother’s murder, when it comes, is going to be dark I’m sure).

To my delight, it didn’t have any of Walt’s woo-woo stuff in it. He didn’t need a single mystical vision or a visit from Cheyenne ancestors who seem to have adopted him as one of their own to solve this case.

It allowed both Henry and Vic to showcase their remarkable skills in tense competitions, Henry by riding a turbocharged motorcycle up the side of a cliff and Vic by shooting clay pigeons as if she had a personal reason for exterminating their breed, all while Walt is in the audience splitting his time between admiring their achievements and interrogating people of interest.

It took Walt out of his home town, which gave the book a holiday feel and it reunited Henry with Lola, his love of thirty years earlier, after whom he named his much-cherished car, and showed me why he’d been wise to dump her back then.

The plot became a little absurd at times, escalating from ‘Did this man get injured when he lost control of his bike or was he pushed off the road?’ to a complex story involving undercover ATF agents, advanced weapons technology, megalomanic billionaires and the use of a local police force’s repurposed military surplus MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle to cause mayhem. If you can swallow the idea that Walt, Henry and Vic can wrap up a case over the weekend that the ATF and the FBI couldn’t solve in a year, then everything will seem perfectly reasonable.

Reasonable or not, I thought everything was a lot of fun in a time-to-have-a-light-hearted-episode-in-this-series-to-relieve-the-tension-before-the-dark-stuff-starts sort of way.

If you’re a fan, this one will make you smile.

If you’re not a fan yet, this one may raise an eyebrow or two but it will probably still make you smile.

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