When I first read the teaser of Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story, I assumed it had a Dickens feel and a supernatural plot. It said, “…when he’s interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past.” This, of course, is figurative, and while I was off balance by the description, the story is fast-paced and amazing.
Walt Longmire is a sheriff in Wyoming. It’s Christmas Eve and Walt is spending it in his office. Tucked in his arms is Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. A young Japanese woman enters his office, and she has a scar on her forehead that he describes, “…what looked like a hairline crack in the porcelain of her forehead, almost as if she’d been made of china and at one point dropped.” The scar has a story; hence, the “ghost of Christmas past.”
The woman is not a ghost in the supernatural sense. She is a grown up version of the little girl from years ago who nearly died on an emergency flight on a plane from World War II named, Steamboat. After the first chapter or so, we enter the story of long ago. This is billed as a Christmas story, but Christmas has very little to do with it, except for the book Walt continues to refer to throughout the story.
Spirit of Steamboat has a cowboy attitude and the writing is fantastic. Craig Johnson easily writes from Walt’s point of view, differing his voice from the other characters in the novel. The novel is more like a novella. It took me only one evening to read. Craig writes that the original story of Steamboat was meant to be a short story, but it grew to eighty pages, surpassing the limits of a short story. This novel is truly a great read with excellent writing and wonderful descriptions. I gave this novel five stars.
*Book given by publisher to review.