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Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story
     

Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story

4.5 36
by Craig Johnson
 

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A Christmas novella for fans of the hit drama series LONGMIRE now on Netflix and the New York Times–bestselling series. Craig Johnson's The Highwayman and An Obvious Fact are now available from Viking.

Sheriff Walt Longmire is in his office reading A Christmas Carol when he is

Overview

A Christmas novella for fans of the hit drama series LONGMIRE now on Netflix and the New York Times–bestselling series. Craig Johnson's The Highwayman and An Obvious Fact are now available from Viking.

Sheriff Walt Longmire is in his office reading A Christmas Carol when he is interrupted by a ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar and more than a few questions about his predecessor, Lucian Connally. With his daughter Cady and undersherrif Moretti otherwise engaged, Walt’s on his own this Christmas Eve, so he agrees to help her.

At the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Lucian is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers “Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988—a story that will thrill and delight the bestselling series’ devoted fans.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Spirit of Steamboat

“A nail-biter.”—Publishers Weekly

“Johnson is a born storyteller, and he spins this old-fashioned adventure tale deftly….An extremely pleasant present for fans of this popular series.”—Booklist

“A suspenseful adventure story….Series fans along with adventure and Western readers will raptly devour the details.”—Library Journal

“Like flint to stone, the sparks fly and the humour is brilliant and barbed. . .”—Fresh Fiction

 

Praise for Craig Johnson and the Longmire Series:
 

“Like the greatest crime novelists, Johnson is a student of human nature. Walt Longmire is strong but fallible, a man whose devil-may-care stoicism masks a heightened sensitivity to the horrors he’s witnessed. Unlike traditional genre novelists who obsess mainly over every hairpin plot turn, Johnson’s books are also preoccupied with the mystery of his characters’ psyches.”—Los Angeles Times
 

“Johnson knows the territory, both fictive and geographical, and tells us about it in prose that crackles.”—Robert B. Parker
 

“The characters talk straight from the hip and the Wyoming landscape is its own kind of eloquence.”—The New York Times
 

“[Walt Longmire] is an easy man to like…Johnson evokes the rugged landscape with reverential prose, lending a heady atmosphere to his story.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 

“Stepping into Walt’s world is like slipping on a favorite pair of slippers, and it’s where those slippers lead that provides a thrill. Johnson pens a series that should become a ‘must’ read, so curl up, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.”—The Denver Post
 

“A winning piece of work…There’s a convincing feel to the whole package: a sense that you’re viewing this territory through the eyes of someone who knows it as adoring lover and skeptical onlooker at the same time.”—The Washington Post
 

“Johnson’s pacing is tight and his dialogue snaps.”—Entertainment Weekly
 

“Truly great. Reading Craig Johnson is a treat…[He] tells great stories, casts wonderful characters and writes in a style that compels the reader forward.”—Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
Bestseller Johnson (A Serpent’s Tooth) delivers a nail-biter with this seasonal Walt Longmire novella. On a snowy Christmas Eve, while reading A Christmas Carol, the Wyoming sheriff receives an unexpected visitor: a part-Japanese young woman who says she needs to see Walt’s predecessor as sheriff, Lucian Connally, a WWII vet who flew in the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942 and is now in a rest home. Flashback to December 24, 1988. A girl seriously injured in a traffic accident has to get to Denver fast for treatment, but a blizzard makes flying her there hazardous. Furthermore, the only plane available is an antique B-25, named Steamboat after the bucking bronco on Wyoming’s license plate, and the only pilot who can fly Steamboat is Lucian. Soon, the two lawmen, their team, and the patient are aloft, fighting the weather and a host of mechanical problems. While the outcome is never in doubt, the woman’s meeting with Lucian in the present day holds more than one surprise. 5-city author tour. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Oct.)
Library Journal
10/15/2013
This is Johnson's tenth book (after A Serpent's Tooth) to feature Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, who is also the basis for the TV show Longmire. Not so much a mystery as the other series titles, this holiday novella is a suspenseful adventure story that flashes back to the Christmas Eve shortly after Longmire is elected sheriff. A terrible snowstorm is raging, and Longmire has to find a way to get a young car accident victim to the Denver Children's Hospital. Roads are closed, and the Medevac helicopter can't fly in this weather either. An old World War II bomber plane called Steamboat and Lucian Connally, the former sheriff, are the girl's only hope for survival. VERDICT Series fans along with adventure and Western readers will raptly devour the details of the treacherous flight and revel in the history of the bomber and the bucking horse that inspired its name.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
The day before Christmas finds Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyo., at loose ends, until a ghost from the past brings back long-forgotten memories. Johnson's Walt Longmire mysteries are the basis for an A&E drama series. When a young woman walks into Walt's office and asks about his predecessor, Walt can't recall meeting her. But he's willing to take her out to the assisted living facility where irascible former sheriff Lucian Connally is well into a bottle of bourbon. Lucian claims not to remember her either until she says "Steamboat," a word that instantly transports them all back to the same day in 1988. A bad accident has left only one badly burned survivor, a young girl who will surely die unless she can be transported to Denver. A Life Flight helicopter has picked her up, but a vicious storm forces it to land at the local airport, where everyone says there are no planes that can make it to Denver in such a storm. Walt has a different idea. He drags Lucian away from a poker game and out to the airport, where he's introduced to Steamboat, a rickety World War II bomber named after a famous bucking horse, very similar to the bomber Lucian flew over Japan. Neither the EMT nor the helicopter pilot will risk their lives. So Lucian, Walt, the local doctor, a female pilot with very little experience on large aircraft, the child, Amaterasu, and her grandmother take off on a flight that has little chance of success. Unlike Walt's usual adventures (A Serpent's Tooth, 2013, etc.), this novella shuns mystery for a wild and dangerous adventure that will leave you both touched and breathless.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143125877
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/22/2014
Series:
Walt Longmire Series
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
51,962
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

**This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.**

1

It was Tuesday, the day before Christmas, and I wasn’t expect­ing visitors. I stared at my arch?­nemesis, the little red light on my phone that connected me via the intercom to my dis­patcher, Ruby, in the other room. If I raised my voice through the open door—?­even over the drone of the lite-?­jazz Christmas carols playing in the background—?­the reception would be better, but Ruby is a stickler for procedure, so I push the but­ton except for emergencies.

I stared out the window at the fat, heavy flakes falling like in a snow globe; it had been windy in the morning, but there hadn’t been too many accidents on the county’s snow-?­covered roadways, and with the updated weather reports, it was looking more and more like it was going to be a peaceful and quiet Christmas—?­something I rarely got in my business. I had no plans—?­my undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, and her mother, Lena, had decided to go to Belize for Christmas, and my daughter, Cady, was expecting my first grandchild in Janu­ary and was too pregnant to travel. I was looking forward to the postholidays when Henry and I would fly to Philadelphia to meet the baby, whose name was to be Lola. I had thought her name was to be Martha after my late wife, but Cady had decided on Lola and that was, as they say, that.

I placed my book flat on my desk, words up, the weight of the sentiment holding it open. Taking a sip from my chipped Denver Broncos coffee mug, I punched the button. “Do I know her?”

There was a pause, and then Ruby came back on. “She says probably not.” I waited, and I guess she felt prompted to add, “The young woman is carrying something.”

“Smaller than a bread box but bigger than a subpoena?”

“Walter.”

I glanced up at the old Seth Thomas on the wall and fig­ured I had another twenty minutes of daylight on the taxpay­er’s dollar. “I’m doing my annual holiday reading; where is Saizarbitoria?”

“Checking on a drive-?­off at the Kum & Go.” Or, as Vic liked to call it, the Ejaculate & Evacuate. “I’ve also got Lucian on line two; he wants to know if you are still playing chess tonight.”

I thought about the old Doolittle Raider as I reached down and petted Dog, who was sleeping, lying low in hopes of avoiding the reindeer antlers Ruby sometimes attached to his head. “Why, has he succumbed to his usual blue Christmas?”

“Possibly.”

I thought about how chess night had evolved from Lu­cian’s poker games of yore, how the old Raider’s companions had died off one by one, and how he’d been left with only two regular visitors and Dog and I didn’t play poker. “Isn’t that what old widowers do? Sure, tell him I’ll be there.”

It wasn’t what I really wanted to do with my Christmas Eve, but with both Cady and Vic away, I was without female companionship for the holidays. Normally I would’ve headed out to the Red Pony Bar & Grill to spend the evening with my good friend Henry Standing Bear, but he’d been spending time up on the Rocky Boy Reservation with a young divorcée these past couple of weeks—the dog who wouldn’t stay on the porch

The season was taking a toll on all of us as it usually did, but I told Ruby to send the woman in. I glanced down at my book and read the line “. . . no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused. . . .” I patted my ancient copy of A Christmas Carol and stood to accept the visitor.

A dark-?­haired woman dressed in jeans and a long, ele­gant black wool coat stood in the doorway—?­she was clutching a garment bag and smiling a nervous smile, and was small and delicately boned with pale skin and what looked like a hairline crack in the porcelain of her forehead, almost as if she’d been made of china and at one point dropped.

“Please, come in.” She nodded, stepping through the doorway, and studied Dog, who rose, stretched, and yawned. “Won’t you have a seat?” Her hand rested on Dog’s head as he sniffed her. I didn’t have a lot of time and figured that since it was Christmas Eve, she didn’t either. “How can I help you?”

“Are you the sheriff of Absaroka County?”

“I am.” I spun my hat, which, when not on my head, was in its usual spot on the edge of my desk. “And you are?”

She glanced around my office, her eyes lighting on the Dickens. “You haven’t finished that book yet?”

An odd question, but evidently she didn’t want to give out with her name. I glanced down at the small, hand-?­bound copy with the gilt lettering, a Christmas gift from my father to me when I was fifteen and he thought I needed to under­stand the goodness of charity and humility. “Holiday reading; a tradition of mine.”

“I know.” I thought I could discern a slight whistling noise within her voice as she spoke.

I stepped around my desk and extended a hand. “I’m sorry, but have we met?”

The smile returned, but her hands still clutched the gar­ment bag’s black vinyl like talons on a branch; I noticed it had the name of a San Francisco dry cleaning service with an ad­dress at Taylor and Clay printed on the front. “You don’t re­member me.”

The whistling was there again, as if some wind from an­other time and place punctuated her speech. Studying her face, I could see something familiar there, something from a while back maybe, but nothing I could really identify. “I’m sorry, but not really.”

She looked at her feet, a small puddle of melted slush from her shoes surrounding them, and then back to me. “How long have you been the sheriff?”

It was an odd question from someone who purported to know me. “Almost a quarter century—”

“Who was the sheriff before you?”

Still feeling as if I should recognize her, I answered, “A man by the name of Lucian Connally.” I watched her face, but there was no recognition there. “Do you mind telling me what this is all about, ma’am?”

“Is he around?”

I smiled. “Um, no.”

“Do you have a photograph of him that I could see, please?”

I stood there, looking down at her, and stuffed my hands in the pockets of my jeans. There weren’t any warning bells going off in my head, but the fact that she hadn’t given me her name or a specific reason why she was here was keeping me off balance. I didn’t move at first but then stepped past her toward the doorway; Dog padded after me, his claws making clacking sounds on the wide-?­wood-?­planked floor of the old Carnegie library that served as our office. I motioned for her to accompany us.

Ruby watched as we walked past the painting of Andrew Carnegie himself to the marble landing. I took three steps down and turned so that I could look straight at the young woman, who had maintained a two-?­foot distance behind me, gesturing ­toward the wall where the 8×10s of all the sheriffs of the county since its inception in 1894 hung diagonally in a rogue’s gallery.

Mine was last, with a chocolate-?­brown hat and the ri­diculous mustache and sideburns I’d had in the eighties when I’d first been elected. The photo was a color monstrosity that looked garish and déclassé next to Lucian’s classic black and white.

His had been taken in the late forties a few years after the war—?­the good one, if there was such a thing. It was right before he lost his leg to Basque bootleggers, and he wore his traditional light-?­colored Open Road Stetson, a dark tie, and an old Eisenhower jacket, star attached. He was looking straight at the camera with an elbow resting on a raised knee, the other hand drawing the wool back to reveal the .38 service revolver he’d carried all those years, the one with the lanyard loop on the butt.

He wore a slight smirk with an eyebrow cocked like a Winchester, which gave the impression that, if unsatisfied with the resulting photograph, he was fully prepared to shoot the photographer.

I gestured toward the portrait in the cheap filigree ­discount-?­store frame. “My predecessor, the High Sheriff, Lu­cian A. Connally.”

“High Sheriff?”

I glanced up at Ruby, who was watching us intently. “An old term they used to use.”

One of the woman’s hands disengaged from the garment bag and rose to the glass surface to rest a few fingertips there. Her head dropped a bit, but her eyes stayed on the image of the old warhorse.

I felt something pull at me again as I studied her profile, sure that I had seen her before. Drawing on my experience in Vietnam to help me discern Asian features, I could tell she was not Vietnamese or Chinese—?­Japanese maybe. “Miss?”

She shuddered for an instant, as if I’d shocked her by re­minding her of my presence, and then turned with tears in her dark eyes. “He’s dead?”

I laughed. “Oh God, no . . .” I glanced up at Ruby, who continued to study the woman with more than some interest. “Even though there are times we wish he were.” She didn’t seem to know how to take that remark, so I added, “He can be kind of a pain in the butt sometimes.”

She swept a finger across the eyelid that was nearest me and looked back at the photograph as Dog, concerned with the tone of her voice, nudged her with his broad muzzle. “I seem to remember that.”

“You know Lucian?”

She petted Dog in reassurance. “Does he live here, in town?”

I waited a moment before responding, just to be clear that she knew I knew she was not answering my questions. “He does.”

“I need to see him.”

Not I want to see him, or I’d like to see him, but I need to see him. Checking in with my ethical barometer, I glanced at Ruby—?­she looked puzzled but not worried, so I took a step up, leaned a shoulder against the corner of the wall, and stuffed my hands back in my jeans. “As I’ve said, perhaps if you tell me what this is about?”

She took a deep breath and hugged the garment bag closer to her chest, and there was that moment of silence when all the air goes out of the room. Her voice whistled with her breath again as she spoke. “I have something . . .” She looked down. “Something that I need to return to him.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for Craig Johnson and the Walt Longmire Mystery Series
 

“Like the greatest crime novelists, Johnson is a student of human nature. Walt Longmire is strong but fallible, a man whose devil-may-care stoicism masks a heightened sensitivity to the horrors he’s witnessed. Unlike traditional genre novelists who obsess mainly over every hairpin plot turn, Johnson’s books are also preoccupied with the mystery of his characters’ psyches.”—Los Angeles Times
 

“Johnson knows the territory, both fictive and geographical, and tells us about it in prose that crackles.”—Robert B. Parker
 

“The characters talk straight from the hip and the Wyoming landscape is its own kind of eloquence.”—The New York Times
 

“[Walt Longmire] is an easy man to like…Johnson evokes the rugged landscape with reverential prose, lending a heady atmosphere to his story.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 

“Stepping into Walt’s world is like slipping on a favorite pair of slippers, and it’s where those slippers lead that provides a thrill. Johnson pens a series that should become a ‘must’ read, so curl up, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.”—The Denver Post
 

“A winning piece of work…There’s a convincing feel to the whole package: a sense that you’re viewing this territory through the eyes of someone who knows it as adoring lover and skeptical onlooker at the same time.”—The Washington Post
 

“Johnson’s pacing is tight and his dialogue snaps.”—Entertainment Weekly
 

“Truly great. Reading Craig Johnson is a treat…[He] tells great stories, casts wonderful characters and writes in a style that compels the reader forward.”—Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Meet the Author

Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries, the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire. He is the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for fiction, the Nouvel Observateur Prix du Roman Noir, and the Prix SNCF du Polar. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

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The Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
buckster More than 1 year ago
My family has been enthralled with Craig Johnson since the beginning of his writing career & many books & yrs later he still doesn't disappoint! I bought this novel for my parents ( dad mainly) for their 66th wedding anniversary. Craig was initially worried the book wouldn't be out by Oct. 24th but they were able to deliver & my parents couldn't have been more surprised & thrilled. My 87yr old Dad read it in a day ...asan added bonus...my Dad used to fly B 26 & 29's & loved Craig's attention to detail of the planes,etc. Not to mention the colorful characters that he continues to make lovable and alive. He always takes my breath away with a sublime character being the killer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure why this oneisn't getting better reviews. Yes its short but mthats why there is product details. Fits right in with the rest of the Longmires. 5 stars all the way!!
LisaLCC More than 1 year ago
A short story filled with some of my favorite characters, and loaded with new ones to bring another wonderful story to the series. Action aplenty - and a story that brings an insight into the back stories of some of the main characters in the full length novels. Just what I needed to whet my whistle while waiting for Dry Bones to be released! All the perfect elements are there - action, adventure, history, humor - you name it, and Craig Johnson provides it!
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
I’ve been a fan of Craig Johnson’s “Longmire” series of novels long before they were adapted for television. Craig has created a world with interesting people, intermingling in a modern-day version of what still feels like “The Old West”. However, my previous experience with Longmire’s Wyoming has been through full-length “whodunit” novels. I wondered how well this would adapt to the shorter novella. I shouldn’t have worried. Craig Johnson made sure that his novella, “Spirit of Steamboat”, differentiated itself from his other Longmire works by more than just length. The author first realizes that he must eliminate subplots – except for the overriding one of “how does this flashback tie into present-day events”. Then, Mr. Johnson changes formulas from his usual work, moving from a procedural murder mystery to a thriller for the purposes of this book. What he does NOT change is his fine sense of characterization, pacing, and the ability to place the reader into any scene with a description that neither skimps on words nor gets overly detailed. The book is set during the Christmas season – I encourage the reader to grab a copy, and put it aside until December. Then, set aside enough time to plow through approximately 150 ps in a sitting, because you will not want to put this one down in the middle. RATING: 5 stars. DISCLOSURE: I received this book free of charge from the publisher without obligation, although I'm sure that a fair and unbiased review would be appreciated.age
bakpen More than 1 year ago
This novella, told as a 25-year-old memory, is not a mystery but a how-are-they-getting-out-of-this adventure with young-er Lucian Connelly and Walt Longmire. It was a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a terrific story from beginning to end. I highly recommend it!
John_F48 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this tight tale about a vintage aircraft that served in World War II and is usually discussed only with respect to the Doolittle Raid of that fame. In fact, the aircraft served in many theaters of the War with distinction. I had an uncle that served in North Africa and southern Europe as a bombardier and was shot down over Austria late in the War. He never discussed his involvement to the best of my memory or his wounds, but he did love flying all of his life. The story appears to be well researched and the improvising seems authentic.
Silvertipgriz More than 1 year ago
I'm addicted to the Longmire series, and this was an excellent example of why. It's not typical, but I think those who love the snowy "frontier" areas this guy frequents will really love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this latest episode on the Sherrif Longmire series, however feel like I was conned. This is a short story that was posing as a full length book and was disappointed by the short length.
Curlygram More than 1 year ago
If you like the TV series you might like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of his best. I've already passed it on to three people and they all loved it.
mewofford More than 1 year ago
The only trouble with this book is it's not long enough. Former sheriff and Walt's mentor, Lucian, takes a prominent position in this story containing the usual mixture of drama and comedy found in a Walt Longmire story. I will say I shed a few tears as well. Like I said, the only complaint is it wasn't nearly long enough.
leeniebeenie More than 1 year ago
Short, yes.. compelling, yes. Sometimes predictable but thoroughly enjoyable. I felt like a voyeur on the flight. Another page-turner by Craig Johnson and a real education on the quirks and abilities of the old VB-25.. 'Steamboat' is Fascinating stuff.
SmittyNT More than 1 year ago
All of his books are my favorites.....love the characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really, a great story woven with hints of A Christmas Carol, Doolittle's Raiders, and the resident gang of Absaroka County (sp). A quick read, as a novella, but every page is filled with characters that we know and a basic good plot. I read the first 80 pages of the 129 total in an hour. Good fun. Looking forward to rereading during the first snowfall here in NYC. Sparky
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