Craig Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author from West Virginia. His writing falls into the mystery genre and he is most well-known for his Walt Longmire series. It follows Walt, the Sheriff of a fictional county in North Wyoming.
He is approaching retirement, but can still crack cases wide open and take down bad guys better than any of the younger officers in the department.
The first book in the Walt Longmire series was published in 2004 and there are now 19 full-length novels along with two novellas and some short stories. The book series was adapted into a television show which first aired in 2012.
Three seasons were made by A&E, and then Netflix picked up the show for seasons 4 and 5. The show was very popular with over 4 million viewers.
About The Walt Longmire Books By Craig Johnson
The book series focuses on the lead character, Walt Longmire. He has been a sheriff in the fictional county of Absaroka for 25 years and is preparing for retirement.
He is looking forward to a quiet life and wants the last part of his career to be as peaceful as possible. The dead body of a local boy gets in the way, and he finds himself working on a complex case.
As the series progresses, Walt has more difficult cases to deal with in the twilight of his career. His retirement seems to slip further and further from his mind, as the people of Absaroka need his expertise and experience on the police force.
The reader learns more and more about Walt and his history, including his time in the marines and his stint working on an oil rig off the coast of Alaska. Walt deals with a lot of homicide cases, but he also has run-ins with the Mexican drug cartel.
He is a highly respected member of the community and an excellent Sheriff, so you find yourself rooting for him throughout his trials and tribulations.
The series features multiple storylines connected to Native American culture which is well-researched and represented. Walt takes quite a neutral stance, not seeing himself as an insider or an outsider, which allows him to remain diplomatic.
Walt Longmire Books In Order
This is the recommended reading order for the Walt Longmire book series.
This story is about revenge. 4 high school boys sexually assault a local Cheyenne girl, and two years later one of them turns up dead. The other three are in danger, and Walt must find out who is after them to prevent any more murders from taking place.
- The ending of the book is excellent and very satisfying
- Some of the supporting characters feel a little stereotypical
When a resident of an assisted living home is poisoned, Walt must look into her past to understand why she was killed.
What he finds is a tangled web of connections pointing in different directions – the Basque community, the coal-bed methane industry, and even the previous Sheriff. Walt must follow the leads to uncover the truth and find the killer.
- The main character is consistent and the new characters are interesting
- The ending doesn’t fit in with the rest of the story
In the third installment of the Walt Longmire series, Walt’s daughter is attacked. Walt travels to Philadelphia to investigate and discovers that Cady is now unwillingly part of a political cover-up. The stakes are high and the case is personal.
Walt has help from his deputy, Victoria Moretti, and his close friend, Henry Standing Bear. The chemistry between Victoria and Walt builds, and they take the risk to mix business and pleasure.
- The relationships between the characters are very interesting
- Some of the plot points feel a bit forced
In this novel, Walt finds himself working on a case that reminds him of his time as a marine investigator in Vietnam. The body of a Vietnamese woman is found along the interstate.
A search of the nearby area reveals a culvert where a Crow Indian has been sleeping. Virgil White Buffalo is a war veteran with a troubling past, and the purse of the victim is found in his possession.
This could be an open-and-shut case, but Walt doesn’t believe that Virgil is the killer. When the purse is searched for clues, Walt finds a photograph that he recognizes and the case becomes even more complicated.
- The mystery unravels at a good pace and is intriguing
- This book doesn’t not seem to be well edited as it was quite choppy and had a few bits missing that would have been useful to the reader
When a wife confesses to killing her husband, Walt doesn’t believe that he is being told the full story. She says she shot him in the head 6 times as payback for locking her horses in the barn and then burning it to the ground.
Convinced that there is more to this case, Walt poses as an insurance investigator and goes undercover. He learns that the victim had many people who would have wanted him dead, and his list of suspects grows. When a whole town has it out for the same guy, how do you find the real killer?
- The struggles of small-town life are depicted well in this novel
- The story switches from past to present and can get a bit confusing in terms of structure
Walt, Henry, and Victoria find themselves caught in the middle of a tense dispute in a small town. A multi-million dollar company wants to get rid of a junkyard that stands in the way of its new development.
The junkyard is owned by the Stewart family, a lawless clan who aren’t afraid of conflict. When a severed thumb is found in the yard, the tension reaches a boiling point. Will Walt be able to settle the dispute, or will he get caught in the crossfire?
- The writing style makes this book very captivating to read
- The storyline was not as interesting as other books in the series
When a dangerous sociopath confesses to a murder that took place 20 years ago, Walt Longmire must accompany the killer to the site of the body, which is buried deep in the Bighorn mountains.
It’s a dangerous trek with a dangerous man, but the case becomes even more personal when Walt learns the identity of the victim.
- This book explores the psychology behind crime and murder which is very interesting
- The mystery doesn’t unfold quite as well as in other books
Walt’s daughter, Cady, is getting married, but there are issues with the arrangements. With only two weeks until the big day, Walt and Henry step in to help.
They are searching for a suitable wedding venue on the Cheyenne reservation when they witness a young Crow Indian woman falling to her death from the cliffs. The tribal police chief asks for Walt’s help with the investigation.
There is some tension between Walt and this beautiful Iraqi war veteran, but they must work together to solve the case.
- This book takes a deeper delve into Native American culture and the tensions between the people living on the Cheyenne reservation and the people living in the nearby towns. It is packed with emotion and tension and is a great addition to the series
- Walt seems to struggle to work alongside a woman in a position of authority
When a Mormon boy is kicked out of his compound for bad behavior, Walt and his team must track down his mother. Their search takes them to a polyamorous group run by the boy’s father.
What started off as a mission to reunite a boy with his family turns into something bigger, as the group is connected to the CIA and a large oil company. Walt is deeper than he intended to go, and there is no way to back out.
- There are some big twists and turns, especially in Walt’s personal life
- Some of the action scenes do not seem to be as well thought out
The former Sheriff asks Walt to take on a case as a personal favor – the suicide of a close friend. Walt must uncover secrets to find out why this man killed himself, including buried evidence linked to an unsolved case.
Walt wants to get to the bottom of this mystery quickly so he can go to Philadelphia for the birth of his grandson, but he stumbles upon a dark discovery that puts innocent lives at risk. Will he be able to uncover the truth in time to be with his family?
- The setting of Winter in the West is a great way to set the mood for this book
- The character development in this book is not as good as it could have been
When the full skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex is found on Cheyenne land, it seems to be just the stroke of luck that the High Plains dinosaur museum needs. But shortly afterward, the landowner’s body is found face down in a pond.
Several different people would have benefitted from this man’s death, and Walt finds himself navigating the world of paleontology to try and uncover the truth.
He also has to deal with the victim’s family pushing for answers and the FBI sticking their noses into his investigation.
- The plotline of this book is different and unique, making it a nice change from the usual cases
- Some of the plot points feel like they have been forced to prepare for books later on in the series
A hit-and-run accident involving a motorcycle leaves a young biker in hospital in a serious condition.
What seems like an unfortunate but fairly straightforward case becomes much more complicated as Walt and his team find themselves in the middle of a dispute between three rival biker gangs. He must look past the obvious facts to find the deeper truth.
- This book has plenty of action and is fast-paced
- There isn’t enough dialogue or explanation which can lead to confusion at times
Walt Longmire is forced to confront his difficult past in this book.
When a younger Sheriff presents Walt with a photograph from his time as deputy sheriff, he remembers his train journey on the Western Star that took the Wyoming Sheriff’s association the length of Wyoming and back.
Shortly afterward, an old enemy is up for parole. As Walt’s past and present collide, he must stop the people he loves from being caught in the crossfire.
- It was great to look into Walt’s past and have scenes with his younger character
- Some characters were reduced to small roles after featuring heavily in previous books
When Cady is kidnapped by a dangerous hitman, Walt finds himself up against the Mexican drug cartel in a very personal showdown.
Neither the American government nor the Mexican government seems to be much help – will Walt be able to take on his enemies alone to rescue his daughter?
- This book is full of exciting action and is well-paced
- Some of the scenes and the plot points seem a bit unrealistic and far-fetched
After the traumatic rescue of his daughter from the Mexican drug cartel, Walt is thrown back into the deep end at work. He is investigating a suicide that could have been a murder. The victim is a shepherd with ties to the Basque community.
The investigation becomes dangerous as Walt has to search for the truth in places where he isn’t welcome.
- This book has all of the classic features you would expect from a Walt Longmire book
- The ending was not as strong as it could have been
Everyone thought that ‘Custer’s Last Fight’, a famous painting, was destroyed in a fire in 1946. But maybe it wasn’t? When an elderly man dies of a heart attack, Walt is called in to investigate some curious items found in his room. He finds himself caught up in a dangerous art heist.
- The storyline has a different style to previous books which was an interesting change
- This book is a slow burner and it takes a while to build up the momentum
Walt Longmire must once again join forces with the tribal police chief when her daughter starts receiving death threats. It is part of a wider issue of Native American women going missing, and to find the truth Walt will have to go head-to-head with a very dangerous enemy.
- This plot deals with an important theme that impacts women in America
- The storyline was hard to follow and didn’t flow very well
Walt Longmire wakes up in the middle of the street at the well-known site of a harrowing event that took place in 1836. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, but he is covered in blood and missing a bullet from the gun on his holster.
His name is printed on the inside of his hat, the first clue he must follow to find out what happened to him.
- This book takes Walt on an interesting journey of self-discovery
- The ‘mystical’ elements of this book seem a bit over the top compared to the rest of the series
Walt Longmire is called to investigate a case that is connected to his family history in Wyoming, in particular to his grandfather. He must discover more about the man he thought he knew to unlock the clues he needs to solve the mystery.
- The personal nature of this case makes the book very enticing
- It isn’t the strongest way to end the book series
Walt is alone for the holidays, with his daughter and deputy both spending Christmas in Philadelphia. Whilst reading ‘A Christmas Carol’, Walt is confronted with his own ghost from the past.
A Mysterious woman who claims to know Walt has something that she must return to his predecessor.
When the former Sheriff claims he doesn’t recognize the women, she begins to tell them a tale of a different Christmas back in 1988, when Walt has just become sheriff.
- This book was highly praised for its gripping plot and excellent storytelling
- Some readers may not enjoy the change of style seen in this book
When a patrolman is transferred to the beautiful but isolated Wind River Canyon, she is forewarned about the lack of radio communication that will be available. But she does receive radio calls- an officer needs assistance.
The problem is, the officer making the calls has been dead for almost 50 years. Walt and Henry investigate the strange goings-on and end up taking on a deadly foe.
- This spooky story is chilling and leaves a lasting impression
- This is more of a horror mystery than a classic detective story
Walt Longmire’s first appearance was in a short story written by Craig Johnson called ‘Old Indian Trick’. This award-winning short story was a big hit with fans, and Johnson continued to release short stories every Christmas Eve.
This book collects all of those stories in one place, giving fans more of an insight into Walt Longmire’s life.
- These stories give you a deeper understanding of Walt’s character
- Reading the book from start to finish is quite difficult as there are so many different stories
The 19 novels in the Walt Longmire series are best written in publication order. Whilst each novel is a self-contained case that is opened and solved within the same book, there are recurring characters and themes that stretch across multiple books.
The novellas can be read at any point in the series as they are designed to be standalone books. The short stories were released annually in between the novels.
You can alternate between the novels and the short stories if you want to, or just read them all in one collection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Walt Longmire books written by Craig Johnson.
Do You Have To Read The Walt Longmire Books In Order?
It is best to read the main novels in the Walt Longmire series in order as this will give you a better understanding of the characters. The novellas and short stories can be read in any order.
Which Walt Longmire Book Is The Best?
Fans of the series seem to particularly enjoy the first book, as well as Land of Wolves, Next To Last Stand, and Daughter Of The Morning Star. Spirit Of Steamboat was also very highly praised.
Are The Walt Longmire Books Based On True Stories?
Walt Longmire is a fictional character and the books are not based on real events. The setting of the book is a fictional county that is inspired by real places in Wyoming such as Buffalo.