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Wait For Signs

Wait For Signs, November 2014
by Craig Johnson

Featuring: Longmire
192 pages
ISBN: 0525427910
EAN: 9780525427919
Kindle: B00IXX4J8A
Hardcover / e-Book
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"A Longmire Short Story Collection to Savor and Keep Close"

Fresh Fiction Review

Wait For Signs
Craig Johnson

Reviewed by Jennifer Barnhart
Posted October 12, 2014

Mystery Anthology

WAIT FOR SIGNS by Craig Johnson includes twelve Longmire short stories, released for the first time in a single volume. Eleven of the stories were previously released by Johnson on Christmas Eve to his fans—and all reveal a small episode of Walt's life. The final story is an entirely new story titled "Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns."

Reviewing short story collections can be tough, but especially tough for WAIT FOR SIGNS because grouping all twelve short stories together means I miss delving into the unique character and tone of each story. Each one adds to Walt Longmire's history, but each offers a different view of the man who defines this series. "Ministerial Aide" takes place shortly after Martha's death. While still retaining the dry humor I love about this series, it is a poignant and heartbreaking story. "Messenger" fits inside the Longmire timeline toward the newest releases, and takes place mostly inside a Porta-Potty. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. "Thankstaking" bring Walt and Henry Standing Bear together for a Thanksgiving dinner, and Henry Standing Bear is absolutely one of my favorite characters in any series hands down.

All the stories are insightful and worth reading over and over. The depth of Craig Johnson's writing makes reading the Longmire series a pleasure, and every time I pick up his books a new truth about how to live is revealed. His reflection on human behavior, hope, and the strength to survive always amazes me, and I come away from each of his stories eager to read another. The world is not always fair and just, but after spending time with Walt, Vic, Henry, and Cady I always come away with a little more hope for it.

There is an introduction by Lou Diamond Phillips, which I might have read twice because I'm a bit of a fangirl. It's fantastic, full of humor, wit, and insight, so if you're the type to usually skip introductions, resist the urge and read this one! You won't regret it. WAIT FOR SIGNS can be read all at once, one story at a time, from cover to cover, or by skipping around to wherever you feel like reading first. The stories really do cover a large span of time, and they don't need to be read in any particular order. There are quite a few that center around Christmas, but since Craig Johnson released these to fans around that time, it makes perfect sense that the Holidays are used to full effect.

WAIT FOR SIGNS is a short story collection you will want to read if you're a fan of the Longmire Mysteries and if you've never read a Longmire Mystery, by all means start reading! The Cold Dish is the first in the series and you won't regret finding these characters in the beautiful and harsh Absaroka County! WAIT FOR SIGNS is a delightful collection to savor and come back to as you wait for the next in this incredible series by Craig Johnson.

Learn more about Wait For Signs


Twelve Longmire short stories available for the first time in a single volume—featuring an introduction by Lou Diamond Phillips of A&E’s Longmire

Ten years ago, Craig Johnson wrote his first short story, the Hillerman Award–winning “Old Indian Trick.” This was one of the earliest appearances of the sheriff who would go on to star in Johnson’s bestselling, award-winning novels and the A&E hit series Longmire. Each Christmas Eve thereafter, fans rejoiced when Johnson sent out a new short story featuring an episode in Walt’s life that doesn’t appear in the novels; over the years, many have asked why they can’t buy the stories in book form.

Wait for Signs collects those beloved stories—and one entirely new story, “Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns”—for the very first time in a single volume, regular trade hardcover. With glimpses of Walt’s past from the incident in “Ministerial Aide,” when the sheriff is mistaken for a deity, to the hilarious “Messenger,” where the majority of the action takes place in a Port-A-Potty, Wait for Signs is a necessary addition to any Longmire fan’s shelf and a wonderful way to introduce new readers to the fictional world of Absaroka County, Wyoming.



She was waiting on the bench outside the Conoco service station / museum / post office in Garryowen, Montana, and the only parts of her clothing that were showing beneath the heavy blanket she'd wrapped around herself were black combat boots cuffed with a pair of mismatched green socks. When I first saw her, it was close to eleven at night, and if you'd tapped the frozen Mail Pouch thermometer above her head, it would've told you that it was twelve degrees below zero.

The Little Big Horn country is a beautiful swale echoing the shape of the Bighorn Mountains and the rolling hills of the Mission Buttes, a place of change that defies definition. Just when you think you know it, it teaches you a lesson-just ask George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry.

I was making the airport run to pick up Cady, who had missed her connection from Philadelphia in Denver and was now scheduled to come into Billings just before midnight. The Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time had been extraordinarily upset but calmed down when rd told her we'd stay in town that night and do some Christmas shopping the next day before heading back home. I hadn't told her we were staying at the Dude Rancher Lodge. A pet-friendly motor hotel that was assembled back in '49 out of salvaged bricks from the old St. Vincent's Hospital, the Dude Rancher was a Longmire family tradition. I loved the cozy feeling of the weeping mortar courtyard, the kitschy ranch­ brand carpets, and the delicious home-cooked meals in the Stirrup Coffee Shop.

Cady, my hi-tech, sophisticated, urban-dwelling daughter, hated the place.

In my rush to head north, I hadn't gassed up in Wyoming­luckily, the Conoco had after-hours credit card pumps. As I was putting gas into my truck with the motor running, I noticed her stand up and trail out to where I stood, the old packing blanket billowing out from around her shoulders.

Looking at the stars on the doors and then at me, she paused at the other side of the truck bed, her eyes ticktocking. She studied my hat, snap-button shirt, the shiny brass name tag, and the other trappings of authority just visible under my sheepskin coat.

I buttoned it the rest of the way up and looked at her, ex­ pecting Crow, maybe Northern Cheyenne, but from the limited view afforded by the condensation of her breath and the cowl­like hood of the blanket, I could see that her skin was pale and her hair dark but not black, surrounding a wide face and full lips that snared and released between the nervous teeth.

"Hey." She cleared her throat and shifted something in her hands, still keeping the majority of her body wrapped. "I thought you were supposed to shut the engine offbefore you do that." She glanced at the writing on the side of my truck. "Where's Absaroka County?"

I clicked the small keeper on the pump handle, pulled my glove back on, and rested my elbow on the top of the bed as the tank filled. "Wyoming."

"Oh." She nodded but didn't say anything more.

About five nine, she was tall, and her eyes moved rapidly, taking in the vehicle and then me; she had the look of someone whose only interaction with the police was being rousted-she feigned indifference with a touch of defiance and maybe was just a little crazy. "Cold, huh?"

I was beginning to wonder how long it was going to take her and thought about how much nerve she'd had to work up to approach my truck; I must've been the only vehicle that had stopped there in hours. I waited. The two-way radio blared an indiscernible call inside the cab, the pump turned off, and I removed the nozzle, returning it to the plastic cradle. I hit the button to request a receipt, because I didn't trust gas pumps any more than I trusted those robot amputees over in Deadwood.

I found the words the way I always did in the presence of women. 'Tve got a heater in this truck."

She snarled a quick laugh, strained and high. "I figured."

I stood there for a moment more and then started for the cab-now she was going to have to ask. As I pulled the door handle, she started to reach out a hand from the folds of the blanket but then let it drop. I paused for a second more and then slid in and shut the door behind me, snapped on my seat belt, and pulled the three-quarter-ton down into gear.

She backed away and retreated to the bench as I wheeled around the pumps and stopped at the road. I sat there for a moment, where I looked at myself and my partner in the rearview mirror, then shook my head, turned around, and circled back in front of her. She looked up again as I rolled the window down on the passenger-side door and raised my voice to be heard above the engine. "Do you want a ride?"

From WAIT FOR SIGNS by Craig Johnson. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Craig Johnson, 2014.

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