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The Cold Dish (2004)

by Craig Johnson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Walt Longmire (1)

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1,8241157,266 (4)371
After decades of peace between the white and Native American communities of early American Wyoming, a young man who was once convicted for raping a Cheyenne girl is found dead, prompting sheriff Walt Longmire, his deputy Victoria Moretti, and friend Henry Standing Bear to investigate.
  1. 20
    Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (sjmccreary)
    sjmccreary: similar remote locations, small towns near Indian reservations, both are cold weather settings
  2. 00
    The Inland Sea by Sam Clark (MM_Jones)
    MM_Jones: Mystery with lots of local color and great characters. Small town police depending on legwork and intuition.

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» See also 371 mentions

English (113)  French (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
I enjoy the TV show a lot so I thought I'd give the novels a try and I'm so glad I did. Of course the books are even better then the show so I'd recommend this book to any fans of the long running TV series.

Character List


Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming
Martha Longmire (deceased)
Cady Longmire (daughter)
Henry Standing Bear is a member of the Cheyenne reservation in fictional Absaroka County who owns the Red Pony bar, tavern, cafe and restaurant. He's been friends with Walt Longmire since they were 12 years old.
Victoria Moretti is one of Longmire's most trusted deputies. Though new to the sheriff's office she is a five year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department. Tough and willing to go the distance she feels that she has something to prove to Walt Longmire.
Lucien Connally former sheriff
Omar Hunting Guide
Vonnie Hayes was old school Wyoming, After Martha died, Cady tried to fix us up,
Lonnie Little Bird... in wheelchair
Dorothy Caldwell, who owns and runs the Busy Bee restaurant
Bob Barnes - sheep herder, drunk finds dead bodies.
Cody Pritchard, football, track; Dead Jacob and George
Esper, fraternal twins in birth as well as football, tie-and-fly
club, and Future Farmers of America; and Bryan Keller, RAPISTS
Melissa Little Bird raped
Roger Russell, an electrician, shooter
Steve Brandt was the mayor of Durant

In the books, Walt is assisted in his duties by a number of deputy sheriffs.

Undersheriff Victoria "Vic" Moretti, ACSD – Walt's second-in-command and named successor, she moved to Wyoming two years before "The Cold Dish" with her husband (whom she has since divorced) from South Philadelphia; she has a degree in Law enforcement from Temple University and is slowly-but-surely working on her Master's, and spent over four years as a patrol officer on the Philadelphia Police Department.
Deputy Sheriff Jim Ferguson, ACSD – Part-time deputy/head of search and rescue/volunteer fireman; Ferg has been on the job since at least 1988.
Deputy Sheriff Brian Turk Connally, ACSD – Lucian's nephew who Walt hired as a favor to his old boss; he transferred from the Powder Junction Substation to the Wyoming Highway Patrol at the end of "The Cold Dish"
Deputy Sheriff Santiago "Sancho" Saizarbitoria, ACSD – A former corrections officer hired in "Death Without Company"
Deputy Sheriff Jess "Double Tough" Aliff, ACSD – Deputy-in-Charge of the Powder Junction Substation in the southern part of the county; he was badly injured in "A Serpent's Tooth"
Deputy Sheriff Chuck Frymyer, ACSD – Hired as a deputy for the Powder Junction Substation in the southern part of the county in "Kindness Goes Unpunished"; he was murdered in "A Serpent's Tooth"

T.J. "Little Lady" Sherwin, the director of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation's lab unit.

In addition, Ruby runs the sheriff's office and serves as dispatcher, and retired Sheriff Lucian Connally works part-time as the dispatcher on the weekends

DCI lab personnel were routinely called Bag Boys, and criminal
investigators were Cashiers.

The Cheyenne and other tribes live within the borders of the United States. However, as Craig Johnson points out inThe Cold Dish, the Cheyenne also constitute a sovereign nation, and the reservation stands politically and culturally as a world apart. Characters like Henry Standing Bear and Lonnie Little Bird must mediate between two modes of life and two identities. How does Johnson address the Indian characters’ problem of dual identity?

Johnson’s book also deals with various images of the West, and a tension exists between the West of idealized myth and the West as it is experienced by those who actually live there. What instances of the interplay between the romantic West and the literal West do you observe, and what effects do they produce?

The friendship between Walt Longmire, the tough, dedicated Caucasian lawman, and Henry Standing Bear, the savvy, loyal Native American, has well-known antecedents in stories about the West. Does Johnson succeed in distinguishing the relationship from its Lone Ranger and Tonto antecedents? How can Walt and Henry’s friendship be seen as an ironic commentary on its traditional models?

Two of the young men who sexually assaulted Melissa Little Bird are dead before we have a chance to meet them, and they are permitted to speak only in short flashback scenes. The other two are also developed in relatively brief strokes. What does Johnson accomplish by declining to explore the psychology of the four boys, especially the more deeply guilty ones? How would the novel have been different if Johnson had chosen to investigate their motivations and viewpoints in greater depth?

At the end of Chapter Six, while watching a snowfall, Sheriff Longmire thinks of the tiny, inaudible sound made by a snowflake. He reflects that “an awful lot of the voices in [his] own life were so small and high as to be indetectable by the human ear.” Why does he offer this observation, and what do you think generally about his powers to hear and sympathize with the voices around him?

It is easy to think of the West as a principally masculine space. Nevertheless, the women in The Cold Dish refuse to be slighted, and they are much more than romantic foils for the male protagonists. Select a female character and discuss her responses to the gender-related issues in the novel.

The citizens of Absaroka County seem like good people, easy to have a beer with and pleased to trade jokes over a community breakfast. Yet they are also people who try to sweep scandal under the rug and are reluctant to punish the four boys for their heinous attack on a defenseless girl. How does the white community function as a collective character in the novel, and how do central characters like Walt, Henry, Vic, and Lonnie either make peace with the community or define themselves against it?

In Chapter Twelve, Walt observes, “All the important promises are about leaving and not leaving.” Is this statement true or is it merely Walt’s perception? In either case, what does the statement tell us about the needs and values of Walt’s character?

George Esper’s repeated escapes from custody form a recurrent motif in the latter chapters of the novel. Do these escapes have significance apart from the comic frustration they cause Sheriff Longmire? Is there a symbolic dimension to George Esper, whose lack of common sense continually thrusts him outside of attempts to restrain him?

The title of the novel alludes to revenge. Does the revenge that is taken in the novel produce satisfaction for anyone? If the county court had given out stiffer sentences in the Little Bird case, would that outcome have been more satisfying than the acts of a vigilante killer? Does the book as a whole describe a triumph or a failure of justice?

The Cold Dish both begins and ends with Walt’s watching the flight of Canada geese. What mood is created by this framing image? Does Walt’s interest in the geese have a larger meaning?

( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
Really enjoyed the fat sad sheriff who hates donuts. His friends too. Flinched from the past crime that drives the action. Didn't like the denouement much. Loved the setting and the vision in the snow. Am looking for Walt#2. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
I had come across this TV series title several times on Netflix before actually taking the time to watch it. Needless to say, I found it hard not to like Robert Taylor's portrayal of Walt Longmire. After having watched a season-plus of episodes, I decided I needed to read the books, to see what was missing. I was not disappointed.

As a big fan of Robert B. Parker's series of Spenser, this quickly jumped into a series I wanted to read. Though it does, obviously, start with book one mirroring one of the episodes from the television series, there are enough differences I feel like I am not reading a novelization. Johnson does well in bringing what would normally appear mundane for a small-time sheriff into the a mystery that requires interaction with other characters as eccentric as the sheriff in order to solve this crime of murder. With a nice twist I was not expecting at the end, Johnson has shown he has the feel of a great western-mystery writer. ( )
  Ralphd00d | May 4, 2021 |
Grabbed the book because I vaguely liked the show in a passing sort of a way. Turns out what Craig Johnson writes resonates with me, taking forays into odd side canyons along the way, and mixing culture the way I grew up with. This, than, and the other thing: A nice stew over time, all the flavors got together.

Totally not a subject matter I normally read, but by the kittens and sweet sky, I'll be reading the rest of his work if it's similar.

Best book I've picked up this year, and that's out of some damn fine reading. ( )
1 vote wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
I loved the Longmire television series. When I first started watching it, I did not realize it was based on a book series by Craig Johnson. Usually I have a rule that I read the books first before watching a television or movie adaption of a story....but this time, I did things backwards. Turns out....that's ok. The television series is a lot different than the books.

For those who watched the television series, the characters are similar...but different at the same time. My two favorite side characters in the books...and the show....are Vic Moretti and Henry Standing Bear. In the books, Vic is much more mouthy. There were moments that her commentary made me laugh out loud as I read. She pops off at Longmire most of the time, but she is very skilled at her job and has a deep affection for her boss. Henry Standing Bear has been a friend of Longmire's since they served in Vietnam. They are truly friends, and Longmire knows when to call on Henry for help. One line from the show that is directly from the book made me smile. Henry answers the phone at his bar "It is a beautiful day at the Red Pony and continual soiree.'' LOL I love it!

In this first book, a teenager is found dead in Absaroka County near the reservation. Turns out, the boy was involved in the rape of a Cheyenne girl. He and three other boys got off lightly, despite the fact the girl was mentally challenged. As Longmire and his officers investigate the killing, he realizes the other boys might also be in danger. It's a race to find out who is seeking revenge before all of the boys are dead.

I listened to the audio version of this book (Recorded Books). Narrated by George Guidall, the audio is just shy of 13.5 hours long. Guidall gives a great performance! I like his voice and he does a great job of voice acting. Awesome listening experience! ( )
1 vote JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Johnson, Craigprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Revenge is a dish best served cold. --Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderlos de La Clos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
The Dairy Princess of Wayne Count
And the Crack Shot of Cabell ...
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"Bob Barnes says they got a dead body out on BLM land."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

After decades of peace between the white and Native American communities of early American Wyoming, a young man who was once convicted for raping a Cheyenne girl is found dead, prompting sheriff Walt Longmire, his deputy Victoria Moretti, and friend Henry Standing Bear to investigate.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
After twenty-four years as sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County, Walt Longmire's hopes of finishing out his tenure in peace are dashed when Cody Prithcard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Two years earlier, Cody had been one of four high school boys given suspended sentences for raping a local Cheyenne girl. Somebody, it would seem, is seeking vengeance, and Longmire might be the only thing standing between the three remaining boys and a Sharps .45-70 buffalo rifle.
With lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and a cast of characters both tragic and humorous enough to fill in the vast emptiness of the high plains, Walt Longmire attempts to see that revenge, a dish best served cold, is never served at all.
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