I was given the first season of Longmire to watch earlier this year by a friend who I am always swapping crime books with. We are more often that not on the same page when it comes to crime fiction (he gave me The Power of the Dog for my birthday 8 years ago). Having just finished season 4 of Justified I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another western-esque crime show but was prepared to give it a go.
It took me a few episodes to get into the show. It was a crime-of-the-week structure which I’d long ago moved away from when it comes to television (once you’ve Wire-ed you can’t go back). However without realizing it the show and its characters had reeled me in.
Set in Wyoming the show follows Sheriff Walt Longmire (played by Aussie actor Robert Taylor). Longmire runs a small police force consisting of three deputies, one of whom is going to run against him at the next election. Walt deals with small and large crimes and the small town politics is made more complex by the nearby Indian Reservation whom he has no jurisdiction but a lot of dealings with.
By the end of the first season I was addicted to the show and am now well into the second season. Each episode is really well plotted and the interactions between the characters is what makes the show. Branch the ambitious young deputy is equally frustrating yet charming and you understand where he is coming from. Longmire is perfectly understated and Vic (played by BSG’s Katee Sackoff) steals the whole show.
So like any true bookworm (and because of constant urging by my friend who lent me the series in the first place) I decided to check out the books. And of course, the first book anyway, is equally brilliant. Of course there are differences between the TV show and the book but the they are both so well written that you don’t mind (Vic is tall and blonde in the TV series, in the book she is short and dark-haired but their personalities are bang on). Longmire is less understated in the book mainly because the book allows us to see him in his off guarded moments and get inside his head. On the outside he is still understated but there’s a lot more going on inside. And he is a lot funnier (as we all are in our heads).
What makes the book though is the relationship between Longmire and his best friend Henry Standing Bear (played by Lou Diamond Phillips in the TV series). In the book we get to know much more about Henry than in the TV series where he hasn’t quite been fully realized yet. And whereas the relationship between Vic and Longmire steals the TV show, the relationship between Henry and Longmire is the heart and soul of the book.
Also interestingly the first book in the series is the one of the later episodes in Season One. This made it a lot easier to love both the TV show and the book because both mediums introduce and develop the characters differently. Plus the mystery is slightly changed so one doesn’t spoil the other!
I can’t wait to get stuck into the other books especially as season two is almost done and there won’t be anymore episodes for a year. I highly recommend the TV series if you can track it down (it is screening on GEM and is available on iTunes) and the books are just as good if not better!
Classification: Crime & mystery
Format: Paperback / softback (197mm x 144mm x 18mm)
Imprint: Penguin Books
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: 28-Mar-2006
Country of Publication: United States