In KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED, the third book from Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, Walt and Henry Standing Bear are traveling to Philadelphia. Henry is going to display his photo collection in an art show and Walt goes along to visit his daughter, Cady. Before Walt even sees Cady in Philadephia, she is viciously attacked and left for dead. While Walt and his friends rotate a vigil watching over Cady in the hospital, the investigation into who harmed Cady and why ensues. Despite being a "stranger in a strange land" Walt is determined to find justice for Cady.
Craig Johnson is one of those authors who writes a book that leaves me thinking, "wow! This is amazing. But, now there's nowhere for him to go from here. You can't get better than perfection." KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED topped perfection. I'm reading the series in order, so I've now read books one through three. I love each and every one of them, but KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED is definitely my favorite. Walt has always been an extraordinarily REAL character. It would not surprise me in the least to run into this man on the street. But in his third adventure Walt's relationship with his daughter added another amazing dimension to his already life-like existence. A large part of Walt's existence is defined by his relationships with his friends and family. Because of the strength of those relationships, Walt is also left vulnerable when it comes to them - they are his Achilles heel, and no where has that been more evident than in KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED when someone harms Walt's only child:
"There was no change, and I could feel my heart cannon-balling into my bowls, taking my lungs along for the ride. I took a deep breath and listened to it clatter in my throat like a rattler in shedding season when it is blind, pissed and strikes out at everything."
But, rest assured. Even though a major trauma has occurred, Walt did not lose his sense of humor. So just when Johnson brings you to the brink of tears, you'll read the scene where Henry asks Walt to find some eagle feathers so he can perform a ritual at Cady's hospital bed. Walt walks in and
"I handed the Bear the [Philadelphia Eagles] football helmet. 'Good thing you didn't need a tomahawk or I would've had to go to Atlanta."
So, the tears that had started welling in your eyes will be streaming down your cheeks from laughing.
KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED introduces us to Vic's family who all live in Philadelphia. While Vic doesn't initially travel with Walt and Henry to the City of Brotherly Love, she does ride in when Sheriff Walt is in need of his deputy. And her presence in the midst of her family adds another dimension to her character as well. The dysfunction of the Moretti family creates a sharp contrast to the relationships of the Absaroka County family.
As with the two books before this, Johnson takes his characters through a plot of amazing proportions that changes each of them in significant ways. I can't imagine a reader traveling alongside the characters and not changing him/herself as well. I know I was a different person as a result.
KINDNESS GOES UNPUNISHED is nothing short of spectacular.