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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 delightful collection of western short stories spiced with suspense and poignantly funny humour"

Fresh Fiction Review

Wait For Signs
Craig Johnson

Reviewed by Audrey Lawrence
Posted November 2, 2014

Mystery Anthology

I am a person who always loves signs: pennies on the street, birds in the sky, and now, a wonderful collection of twelve short stories called WAIT FOR SIGNS just in time for the upcoming twelve days of Christmas season! Even better, they are twelve stories featuring one of my most favourite characters, Walt Longmire - the sharply observant and perspicaciously canny Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.

In the Acknowledgements section, New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson tells how this collections of delightful short stories came into being: some of the short stories that Johnson had previously shared with his fans through his newsletter and others were tidbits of tales that were not full books in themselves but helped to fill in gaps between other previously written books. All good!

All the stories have a bit of the droll tongue in cheek humour that will bring a smile to your face and all can be thoroughly enjoyed whether this is the first time you are fortunate to enjoy a Longmire book or whether you have read a fair pile of them or seen the TV series LONGMIRE. There is humour in the titles (Thankstaking), nestled in the story, sometimes poignantly and sometimes with a nice "got ya" moment. My personal favourites are "Old Indian Trick" and "High Holidays". To tell you more would only be as cruel as tearing of the wrapping on each of the wonderful stories whose endings, like ribbons on a package, just perfectly give that final tough -- the "ah ha" moment!

Having read many of Johnson's books in the series, I admire and love Walt Longmire as a character and his penchant for arcane bits of knowledge. Whether drunk or sober, on or off duty, Walt retains his sense of decency, humbleness, his loyalty to those he loves, his job as protector and to those in need, even if not expressed the way people want him to be. His friendship with Henry Standing Bear is legendary. Both are quick witted and sharp observers, and open to listening and learning from each other. I also appreciate Johnson's masterful skill in effectively portraying Native Americans and their concerns in a very authentic manner that I wish other authors could emulate. Johnson's books are all set in the vastness and beauty of Wyoming and deal with issues of conflict, crime, family and the heart. While western in tone, they hold stong appeal for anyone who just likes a good story.

If you are looking for that special book gift to give to someone special or for yourself, WAIT FOR SIGNS is the perfect treat for the season! Many of the stories have a Christmas theme, yet there are other that do no, so it can be read and treasured at any time of the year. Similar to the short novella, SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT, written by Johnson last year, these stories can be re-read over again as a favourite every year. Once I started reading, I just could not stop until the satisfying and funny conclusion of the last story in WAIT FOR SIGNS entitled "Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns!" If you are not already a fan of Craig Johnson before you read WAIT FOR SIGNS, you will be even before finishing all twelve stories. So, WAIT FOR SIGNS and enjoy!

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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