Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire Series #6)

Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire Series #6)

by Craig Johnson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101190166
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/27/2010
Series: Walt Longmire Series , #6
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 9,416
File size: 7 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Craig Johnson has a background in law enforcement and education. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Walt Longmire is tired. "It had been the kind of winter that tested the souls of even the hardiest" (p. 1), and the Sherriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County is feeling the accumulated weight of nearly thirty years on the job—plus the complications of his quasi-romance with Deputy Vic Moretti. Walt has little time for introspection, however, when the town junkman is dragged two-plus miles over frozen roads tied to the back of his family's 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado. Fortunately, seventy-two-year-old Geo Stewart is seemingly indestructible, and survives his icy escapade. But, as the Stewart clan's unwieldy saga begins to unfold, the whole department finds itself caught up in a case that strains their already frayed nerves to the breaking point.

Walt's other deputy, Santiago "Sancho" Saizarbitoria, is grappling with his mortality after "having a serrated kitchen knife filleting one of his kidneys" (p. 25). To make things worse, Sancho's reentry to police work is complicated by the recent birth of his first child. He's ready to call it quits, but Walt is determined to keep him on the job, or at least cure him of his "bullet fever" (p. 48) first. So when Geo and his grandson, Duane, find a recently severed thumb at the dump, Walt puts Sancho on the case.

While recovering the thumb, Walt and Sancho witness a stand-off between Geo and Ozzie Dobbs, a local real estate developer. For years, Ozzie has been working to build Redhills Rancho Arroyo—a spread of "five-acre ranchettes with four-million dollar mansions alongside a golf course" (p. 27). The only fly in his ointment is the fact that the development's splendid views are marred by the junkyard—which Geo refuses to sell. But the lawmen are stopped in their tracks by the prolonged kiss exchanged—out of Ozzie's sight—between the junkman and Ozzie's exceedingly lovely and genteel mother, Betty.

His professional duties momentarily on the backburner, Walt returns to his mounting personal troubles. Vic longs to own a home that doesn't rest on wheels, and she's upping the hostility towards Walt for his inability to commit. Meanwhile, his grown daughter, Cady, a Philadelphia-based lawyer, is planning her wedding—to Michael Moretti, Vic's younger brother. Beset with headaches brought on by a neglected eye injury, Walt fantasizes about retiring to "Hatch, New Mexico…[and] a little adobe house…with chilies hanging in the window" (p. 97).

All too soon, a very real dead body jolts the honorable sheriff out of his daydreams to uncover a tangled web of illicit drugs, and even more illicit family relations. With the mother of all snowstorms on the way—and stonewalled by Duane, Duane's wife, Gina, and a pair of the meanest mutts in the West—Walt must draw on all his resources to stop a killer. Filled with humor, pathos, and unforgettable Western imagery, Craig Johnson's Junkyard Dogs is another page-turning adventure in the series that's made Walt Longmire a beloved mystery favorite.



ABOUT CRAIG JOHNSON

Craig Johnson is the author of six Walt Longmire mysteries. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.



A CONVERSATION WITH CRAIG JOHNSON
Q. Junkyard Dogs shows a more sober and reflective Walt than previous novels. Was this intentional?

The town of Durant is hunkered down for a winter storm, and for all the severity of the weather and isolation it might as well be on the moon. Winter tends to bring out the morose in my sadder but wiser sheriff; I looked at the book as my winter of our discontent. It deals with the more venal aspects of human nature and that has a tendency in law enforcement to wear you down in the day-to-day, which might be what you're responding to. In direct opposition with this is that I think this is also the most humorous book I've written.

Q. Parental anxiety (e.g. Walt/Cady, Betty/Ozzie, and Sancho/Antonio) seems to be a central theme of this novel. What inspired this?

Nobody pushes your buttons (both good and bad) like family, and with the claustrophobic aspects of the book, I thought it just fit. The microcosm of community is family, so it was the next logical step in going inward. In a lot of ways that's what the book is about; the things that people do to each other and just how far they'll go. What starts out as a neighborly squabble erupts into a full-blown range war.

Q. This is Walt's sixth outing. What do you do to stay fresh over so many novels?

Tony Hillerman once told me that at the risk of sounding like an old sports analogy—you've got to play ‘em one at a time. Each book is an entity unto itself and you have to treat it with that respect; not try and get it to fit some artificial formula you've cooked up or that might've been successful for you before. Each of the books deals with a social problem as a catalyst such as the one for this one—the economy of the new West. It might be dangerous rolling the dice on each book, but I'd rather offend the readers that way than by writing the same book all the time.

Q. You've incorporated the country's current economic woes into the story. Have you felt its repercussions even in your town of twenty-five residents?

There's always a cushion in rural living, but times are hard for a lot of people and I think it's important to reflect the world in which the characters live accurately. The financial limitations that Walt faces as a small, rural police force are more of an advantage to the writing than a hindrance. Walt can't always get on his cell phone or computer and look for answers, so instead he falls back on old-style policing, which lends itself to the exploration of character and humanity. That stuff is always going to be more interesting than gadgets.

Q. Sometimes, the setting of a novel can be so vivid that it's like another character. In Junkyard Dogs, one could say that about the weather. Is it really that much of a presence? Do you, like Walt, fantasize about retiring to New Mexico?

You know, there was a point last spring where I tractored the six-foot drifts on my ranch road four times in two weeks, and that got old. I live in Walt's surroundings and I think that's an advantage in the writing. I'll let you in on a dirty little secret of mine, a way that I'm very different from Walt—I love cold. I built my ranch in northern Wyoming for a reason. If I'd wanted to, I could've built it in New Mexico or Arizona but I like the winter; it keeps you tough. Walt fantasizes about warmer climates, but I don't think he'd last here—as much as he'd enjoy the great Mexican food, he needs the high plains.

Q. In one passage, the Emergency Room doctor tells Walt that Geo's "hair has grown through his long underwear" (p. 16). Is this, or any of the other colorful stories in the novel based in real life?

You caught that, huh? It's true. They brought a neighbor of mine in after he cracked a few ribs and discovered that indeed, his hair had grown through his long underwear. There are so many weird and wonderful things about where I live, and it's just too much of a temptation to place them in the novels; most of the time when somebody confronts me about something ridiculous in my books—it's actually a true story.

Q. Your last novel, The Dark Horse, featured a highly intelligent horse and a woman who felt more connected to horses than humans. Here, the junkyard dogs, Butch and Sundance, have very distinct personalities and loyalties. Do you believe that animals are capable of good and evil?

I think we can discern their actions as good or evil, but that's just us. There was a character in my last novel who stated my feelings on the subject best, "Animals is some of the finest people I know." In many ways, the defense for Butch and Sundance is very similar to the ones we have for ourselves—just doing their job. Thankfully, Dog was just doing his…

Q. Some might think that big-time drug dealing is an urban problem. Would this be an incorrect assumption?

Yes. For production purposes, these individuals need privacy and there's a lot of open country out there. This isn't exactly a news flash with the number of methamphetamine and marijuana busts that have been made across the country in very rural areas.

Q. Previously, you've said that outrage over social inequities inspires your work. Is that the case in this novel?

Not much question about that, is there? If you look at the differences between Red Hills Arroyo and the Stewart compound the differences become pretty evident. A lot of the economy of the West is one of the haves and the have-nots, and I'm not sure it's getting any better. I get outraged pretty easy, and it's great fuel for the writing.

Q. What's next for Craig Johnson and Walt Longmire?

Hell Is Empty is the title of the next book and it comes from Prospero's line in The Tempest—"Hell is empty and the devils are all here." Walt is involved in an exhumation in the Bighorn Mountains when a number of individuals escape from a private transportation firm. The novel is a metaphor for The Inferno, which Saizarbitoria happens to be reading in an attempt to make up for the lack of liberal arts education in his criminal justice degree. When Walt starts out after these very dangerous individuals, Sancho pokes the paperback into his pack for reading material and the similarities begin to mount. Can anybody remember who Dante's guide through hell was?



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Spoiler Warning: Don't read any further if you don't want to know whodunit!

  • In what ways is Walt the archetypal Western lawman? In what ways is he different?
  • Why does Gina pretend to be pregnant with Ozzie's baby? What does she hope to gain?
  • Should Betty have told Ozzie about her relationship with Geo? Does a parent owe it to her child—young or grown—to share her romantic status?
  • Is Walt's own reluctance to commit to Vic rooted in their age difference, their working relationship, or in Cady's engagement to Michael? What would you do in Walt's position?
  • Discuss the metaphorical significance of the book's title.
  • Does Walt do the right thing by trying to cure Sancho of his "bullet fever"? Would Sancho's reaction have been the same if he hadn't recently become a father?
  • In this novel, is it more difficult to be a parent, or a child?
     
  • An injection of air kills Geo, but one also saves Walt's vision. Are there any other examples of this kind of duality in the novel?
  • Did you feel any sympathy towards white supremacist, Felix Polk/Paulson, because of his cancer, and the fake granddaughter that his so-called pals used to trick him? If so, did you find these feelings troubling?
  • When Walt discovers that Gina is the killer, he seems to want to exculpate her crimes, saying: "She's a poster child for fucked-up—in and out of foster homes, finally living on the streets, and prostitution." (p. 301). What are your thoughts?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire Series #6) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 77 reviews.
    suzbluz More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely loved this book. Our library only has 2 Longmire books and I just could not put this one down. The first 4 pages made me laugh out loud. Johnson has a gift for humor mixed with the serious. Since getting hooked on the new Longmire TV series I just had to read Junkyard Dog and loved it. I lived in Wyoming for a couple of years, Laramie to be exact and his description of the snow, cold, and wind though haunting, beautiful and dangerous is the reason I now live in Florida. :) Still that area of the country is fascinating and rich with history. This series of books is a genuine tribute to the mysterious appeal of Wyoming.
    Buffalo52dog More than 1 year ago
    Good read for a rainy day. Longmire rules!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I highly recommend all of the books I have read in this series so far. Well written, great characters, good mysteries with a dose of humor thrown in. Plus, Craig Johnson knows Wyoming. I have been passing these books along to my friends and they are all hooked on them.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Great as always, the humor, the suspense! My husband and I love Longmire. What a gifted writer.
    nana-et-al More than 1 year ago
    Like all the previous books in this series by Craig Johnson, it is excellent. Before I knew it I'd finished the book. I also enjoy reading the Penguin readers guide at the back of the book. It's always very informative.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Craig Johnson has created a thrilling series set in the hard scruff plains of Wyoming. His characters quickly become living breathing people and you feel like you can feel the dirt under your boots while reading. Longmire is a real hero, a tough yet compassionate, and emotionally vulnerable man. Vic.... well let's just say that I' like to have dinner with Vic for just one evening.
    TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
    Craig Johnson's books, read by George Guidall, have something of the wise old dad about them. No matter that Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County, is not so old he doesn't lust after his deputy, the apple-assed Vic Moretti. That just makes him more of a man. And man he is. Bearing all manner of physical insult, he comes out on top once again, chasing his quarry through an 18" snowstorm high in the hills surrounding Red Lodge, Montana. The ridiculous nature of the events that set off a chain of murders can only be based in truth because no novelist would create such stories for fear his tribe of readers would leave him for dead. In interviews Johnson tells us that he gets the basis for his outrageous stories from his friends in the police, so the one about the man cleaning the chimney in the middle of the winter with a rag soaked in kerosene, and tied with a rope to the bumper of a Durango, has got to be true. Hard as it is to believe. But it is the home-smoked flavor of these great western stories that make this series so...home grown. This is a series I allow myself to savor like a fine cigar. I pace myself, withholding the pleasure of beginning a new story until I feel I have earned a special treat. They are soothing to the soul, funny to the bone, candy for the brain, and oh-so-reassuring for those among us who fear wisdom eludes our public servants.
    maggie70GA More than 1 year ago
    Craig Johnson brings all the 'characters' in his novels to life.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As usual he comes through with another great book! Quick read.
    magnumpigg on LibraryThing 21 days ago
    I thought this the weakest of the series so far. The dialog was snappy as usual and the locale/surroundings as comfortable and familiar as an old pair of shoes but the crime took a while to get going and it just wasn't that interesting a crime.
    cathyskye on LibraryThing 21 days ago
    First Line: I tried to get a straight answer from his grandson and granddaughter-in-law as to why their grandfather had been tied with a hundred feet of nylon rope to the rear bumper of the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado.It's February, and it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey in Absaroka County, Wyoming. As much as Sheriff Walt Longmire would like to stay inside his nice warm jail, folks just aren't going to accommodate him. An old man (and owner of the town dump) has been dragged behind a car. One of his deputies is suffering from "bullet fever", so Walt gives him the task of tracking down the owner of the severed thumb found in a cooler there in the junkyard. His Pennsylvania deputy, Victoria Moretti, is trying to buy a house, and it seems to have made her a tad ill-tempered. The owner of a new housing development that borders the junkyard has to have his feathers smoothed down....What's a sheriff to do? Especially when an interesting side business is found in the dump followed by the discovery of two bodies. Winter refuses to behave itself (as if it ever has).It is such a pleasure to read a book written by Craig Johnson. He is a born storyteller. He can make you laugh. He can make you cry. The Wyoming setting and every single character is etched crystal clear in your mind.There's a reason why I live in the Sonoran Desert: I am not a winter person. I do not "do" cold. When I discovered that this book took place in the winter, I quite literally shivered. However, Craig Johnson is one of the few writers who, for me, can put poetry into a season I loathe. Try this on for size: "It was Monday of the second week in February and people talked less because their words were snatched from their mouths and cast to Nebraska. I had an image of all the unfinished statements and conversations from Wyoming piled along the sand hills until the snow muffled them and they sank into the dark earth. Maybe they rose again in the spring like prairie flowers, but I doubted it."I have come to view reading a Craig Johnson novel as a visit with a beautiful place, as catching up with a group of characters I've come to know and love, and as an exercise in deduction as I try to identify The Bad Guy. Junkyard Dogs satisfies on all these levels, and Craig Johnson continues to be an author that I wish everyone would read at least once.I'm willing to bet the farm that, for many of you who do sample his writing, it will be the start of your own love affair with Absaroka County.
    kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 25 days ago
    Junkyard Dogs is the sixth book in Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series and I have no idea how I missed these books before now. Craig Johnson is funny - not in a trying-to-hard-forced kind of way, but in a certain twist of phrase and mind that sees and shares the humor in life kind of way. Walt Longmire is a widowed sheriff who's not getting any younger. His territory is a small town in Wyoming and he knows it like you know your childhood home. Joined by his deputies, most notably his on-again/off-again girlfriend Vic, Longmire is tasked with the day-to-day law enforcement of a small town where occasionally someone gets murdered.This is a Western, in the sense that it's set in Montana and has a Sheriff and even real live Native Americans, but its Western flavor is the least important thing about the book. Rather it's the storytelling, the sense of place, the dry humor, great characters, and plain old good storytelling.In Junkyard Dogs there is a complicated set of interconnected events having to do with an eccentric old man who runs a junkyard, a developer, and the developer's mother (who just might be in love). I really enjoyed how all the plot elements had pieces of history to them - the characters share a place and context within their small town and these play out across the broader plot line of the crimes.Mr. Johnson almost makes me want to move to Wyoming - except for that whole snow over the roofline thing. I hate to be cold. This series has been optioned for a series on A&E called Longmire. The series has great casting:Walt Longmire - Robert Taylor (from The Matrix)Victoria Moretti - Katee Sackhoff (from Battlestar Galactica)Henry - Lou Diamond PhillipsIf the writing on the series is as good as the writing in this book, I'll be a regular viewer.
    JWood43 More than 1 year ago
    Probably my favorite Johnson Longmire novel!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Starts very humorously I was reading in bed and laughing out loud. The descriptions of the cold really make me feel the frigid cold. I really did not guess who the killer was until near the end. I suspected who that the killer was more than they appeared to be early in the novel. Just a really good mystery all around
    Angie_Lisle More than 1 year ago
    This has been my least favorite book in the series thus far. I figured out the last book (The Dark Horse) before I should have but it was because my health problems gave me some insight that most readers probably wouldn't know. This book wasn't like that - this book isn't as polished as the others in the series. There are at least two spoilers scenes that jumped out at me because the conversations were out of place and my immediate thought was: why bring this up right now? There's more important stuff going on...oh, wait. It would only be brought up if it tied in to the case somehow. And most of the clues I needed to solve this crime were right there in those scenes that felt out of place. Thank you for trying Mr. Johnson but you didn't get one over me this time. And I do expect better, because one of the things I like about this series is that I wasn't able to solve the first books until I was supposed to - I was along for the ride with Walt. This book made me feel too far ahead of him. However, this book continues building the romances slow and steady, just the way I like. And the romantic plot-threads are what kept me going through this book because I have no idea where these romances are headed (and I want to know). I prefer romances written by men and targeted at men, they feel more real to me than bodice-ripper romances, and this series, taken as a whole, is a superb example of how romances should be done.
    MaraBlaise More than 1 year ago
    Action from the beginning to end just the way I liked it. The first four Longmire books I read was ok, the fifth was really good, but this one was truly amazing. There was just so much in this book that I loved. The case was interesting and never dull and the ending was surprising. There was a lot Walt and Vic, which is always great. And of course poor Walt who always gets hurt and ends up in the hospital.
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    Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
    I've been reading (or in some cases, listening to the Audio CD version where George Guidell reads to me) Craig Johnson's Longmire series in order.  So far, Junkyard Dogs has been the most fun of all the books in this series.  Much as Dana Stabenow did with Breakup, the author realizes that a serious series sometimes needs a lighter touch as a change of pace – and Craig certainly did that with this book. We have a family who has run a local junkyard for years.  Developers are trying to convince local zoning to change the rules and force them out.  The owners are resistant – they've moved once before, and in both cases, they were there first!  (Oh, and might there be ANOTHER reason or two why the family doesn't want to leave their current location?  And might there be closer ties to the junkyard family and the developers than is apparent at first glance?) Not going to say too much – just going to pat author Craig Johnson on the back, offer to buy him a Ranier Beer, pass on my highest recommendations to the next potential reader, and move on to the next book. RATING: 5 stars.
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