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Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story Hardcover – October 17, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 654 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)

From Booklist

Set on Christmas Eve—a strong clue that it started life as one of the author’s annual holiday short stories—this entertaining novella offers the earliest glimpse yet of Walt Longmire’s tenure as sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County. Longmire is reading Dickens in his office when an unexpected visitor arrives bearing a mysterious gift, triggering memories of an eventful night long past . . . when, with a huge storm blowing in and the highways closed, the only way to transport a burn victim to the hospital in Denver was via a WWII bomber gathering dust in the hangar of Durant’s tiny airport. The only person who could fly it? Lucian Connally, Longmire’s crusty predecessor. Johnson is a born storyteller, and he spins this old-fashioned adventure tale deftly: everything that can go wrong does, and problems are solved by men who set their jaws and do what needs to be done. As always with these detours, it’s fun to see the characters’ histories come to life. An extremely pleasant present for fans of this popular series. --Keir Graff
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Product Details

  • Series: Longmire
  • Hardcover: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (October 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670015784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670015788
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (654 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cathy G. Cole TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been eagerly awaiting this novella since I heard author Craig Johnson talk about it at an author signing last summer. It was worth the wait, not because it's a rip-snorting little mystery that ties in with all the other Walt Longmire whodunits, but because it says so much about the heart, the compassion, and the determination of the memorable characters Johnson has created. Readers get to see what these folks do when they're not out solving crime-- and it's every bit as enthralling as those mysteries.

As Johnson says in his acknowledgements, "sometimes it's not so much about the suspense of killing characters off in a book, but rather, of trying to keep them alive." Trying to keep these characters alive on that plane in that weather is a nail-biter for readers. Johnson keeps us nibbling and chewing by carefully setting the stage-- pinning our hopes on that rickety old plane named for an animal that anyone would recognize if they've seen a Wyoming license plate. Once the stage is in place, the characters climb on board, and these characters who place a little girl's life above their own? Well, each of them made my eyes well up with tears and a lump form in my throat. I wanted to hug the stuffing out of all of them-- and I wanted to climb on board, too.

This tightly woven tale is laced with nerve-wracking action and lashes of Johnson's trademark humor. Spirit of Steamboat is a perfect, emotionally satisfying story whose re-reading may turn into my own Christmas Eve tradition. If any of you have hesitated to read Craig Johnson's books, this is the absolute best way to test the waters. If Johnson doesn't have you hooked in the short 160 pages of this book, then it's just not meant to be.

But I honestly can't believe that's possible.
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Format: Hardcover
Didn't think to read Craig Johnson until *after* Longmire started on A&E, but I'm SURE GLAD I went back and started!

This little gem, arriving well after Johnson's original Longmire story, is just the ticket for good reading, whether it's Christmas or not. For so few words (comparatively speaking), it packs a powerful punch, both in storytelling itself, and emotionally. As Johnson himself says in his Acknowledgements, it is, indeed, an "odd litte book" that was supposed to be a short story, but in the space of four days had expanded its "wingspan" to over eighty pages (and use of the word "wingspan" is a big clue as to the flight aspect of this novella.) Combining history with fiction, a wicked snowstorm, and a very sick little girl, this novella spans time and space to bring you a Christmas tale you won't soon forget.

You say you haven't read any Longmire stories? Well, don't stop with this one!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Craig Johnson, Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Mystery (New York: Viking, 2013). Hardcover / Kindle

As a general rule, the book is better than the movie or television show that is based on it. Even though A&E’s Longmire is good, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire mysteries are better. So, if you like the show, read the series!

Spirit of Steamboat is the latest book in that series. It is less a whodunit than a who-is-he? In other words, Sheriff Longmire doesn’t solve a crime during the story. Instead, the story reveals the true character of one of his companions.

A young Japanese woman walks into the sheriff’s office with a dry cleaning bag and a story to tell. It quickly becomes clear that she’s looking for Longmire and his crusty old predecessor in the sheriff’s office, Lucian Connally. At first, however, neither of them remembers her.

But then, the memories come back: of a horrific car accident, a ferocious winter storm, and a dangerous life-flight to Denver.

To be honest, it took me a while to get into this story. For me, it started slowly, and I kept putting it down. But when I finally set aside some time to read it, I read it through in a single sitting. Craig Johnson is an excellent storyteller, and this one sucked me in at last.

Bottom line: Not as good as Johnson’s Walt Longmire mysteries, but still pretty good.

[...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A short story that, in true Craig Johnson tradition, keeps the reader hanging on for dear life.... Johnson uses his great choice of wording to bring the reader into the story and sharing every exciting moment of it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is perfect for Longmire fans looking for a delightful holiday story featuring some of our favorite Absaroka County characters. The book looks back at Christmas Eve, 1988, as Walt and Lucian embark on a journey to save the life of a young Japanese burn victim. They must fly the girl to Denver in the dead of the night through a fierce snowstorm before time runs out. Their plane is "Steamboat," a vintage WWII bomber that Lucian has flown before. Named for the famous bucking horse on the Wyoming logo, "Steamboat" must live up to it's wild and woolly reputation as the toughest bronc in the state of Wyoming, and hold together long enough to keep it's courageous passengers alive until Christmas Day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It’s 1988 and a girl suffering from serious burns must be transported from Durant to Denver for treatment. There’s an old B-25 two engine prop job called Steamboat, a pilot who flew a plane like this in WWII, and a raging Wyoming winter storm. The pilot is none other than Lucian Connally, then sheriff of Absoroka County. Together with his deputy, Walt Longmire, and a woman pilot Lucian likes to call Toots, they undertake this hazardous mission to save the girl’s life.
It’s an exciting and tension-filled story. It’s also ironic in the sense that the girl being flown to Denver is Japanese and this particular plane was part of Jimmy Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo back in 1942. There’s also an explanation of the plane’s name of Steamboat; it’s not the Colorado town but the name of a famous bronco who later becomes the emblem that adorns Wyoming’s license plates. And this old plane bucks and kicks like an ornery nag all the way.
There’s a bonus to this book, a short story at the end called Old Indian Trick. It’s not about Walt’s friend, Henry Standing Bear, but an older fellow named Lonnie Little Bird. Lonnie uses his Indian savvy to help Walt solve a crime in a record short time.
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