Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love The Dark Horse is the fifth installment in New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson's Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit Netflix original drama series. Wade Barsad, a man with a dubious past and a gift for making enemies, burned his wife Mary's horses in their barn; in retribution, she shot him in the head six times, or so the story goes. But Sheriff Walt Longmire doesn't believe Mary's confession and is determined to dig deeper. Unpinning his star to pose as an insurance investigator, Walt visits the Barsad ranch and discovers that everyone in town--including a beautiful Guetemalan bartender and a rancher with a taste for liquor--had a reason for wanting Wade dead.
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Reading Group Guide
1. Who is the novel's dark horse?
2. Is Walt willfully trying to lose his reelection campaign? Would his life be easier if he were no longer sheriff of Absaroka County? Why do you think he chose to become a lawman instead of a rancher?
3. If Cady marries Michael Moretti, Walt and Vic would find themselves in an even more complicated relationship. Does Walt owe it to Cady to break things off with Vic?
4. Do you agree with Walt's prediction that the potential jurors for Mary Barsad's trial would find her guilty because she shows no repentance?
5. In what way does Absalom's bloody past affect the course of the novel? How would you answer Bill Nolan's question to Walt: “If nobody remembers the history, did it still happen?” (p.131).
6. Does the Powder-River-Pound-Down-Tough-Man Contest help Walt work through his anxiety about Cady? Is physical violence simply an inextricable part of male genetics?
7. For a Wyoming lawman, Walt's distrust of horses comes as something of a surprise. How does it affect your opinion of the good sheriff? Do you believe that animals have an intuitive sense of human intentions?
8. Walt remembers his father saying “the outside of a horse is always good for the inside of a man” (p. 296). What do you think he meant?
9. How much responsibility does Walt bear for Hershel's death? Did his actions needlessly endanger Benjamin's life?
10. Do you approve of the witness protection program? Is it fair that criminals—perhaps murderers themselves—can escape punishment for their crimes by testifying against more serious offenders? Is Cliff Cly's behavior acceptable for an officer of the law?
11. Do you think Wade's brother invited his fate? Why or why not?