For three seasons on A&E Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) has been the determined Sheriff of Absaroka County Wyoming. His friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) has shown audiences what a true friend is, being the man who will stand by Walt when his world feels as though it is falling apart, because his wife has passed away, and having his back in all situations.
Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) if a no nonsense deputy (undersheriff?) with the skills the county needs in the Sheriff’s department to help solve crimes and uphold the laws, but also to support their Sheriff and balance his skill set. She may not be a local girl, but she brings city cop training, knowledge of ballistics and Crime Scene solving into the mix.
These are all characters that Craig Johnson brought to life in his series of novels that began with The Cold Dish. With nearly a dozen Longmire novels, seven of which were in print before the series began airing, the characters had taken form and the relationships were clearly defined… and many aspects translated directly to the show beautifully. Yet there are aspects that were clearly changed, noticeably and yet not in a negative way, just in a way that as I read I stopped and said, “hmm, I see what you did there,” and took a moment to wonder why.
In the Longmire from Book To Screen Deluxe Teaser, which predominantly contains sample chapters from the books, there is a foreward by Craig Johnson which talks about some of the changes that took place, and the process of going from his original books to the Television series. He specifically addresses the age change of the title Character Longmire, who is older in the novels than on the TV show. The change was made, quite simply, to afford the show more seasons, and while they did make him younger, they did not do it so dramatically or drastically that I found it distracting. And I felt that while they shaved some years off of his age, they did not shave off so many that negated the possibility of his back story, they simply changed the details of it, and it still works, because he is old enough to have still had time to have had a job before he was Sheriff, to have lived a complex life, etc.
I felt they also changed aspects of the relationship between Longmire and Lucian Connally… and as so often happens when I have the opportunity to read source material I want to go back and rewatch the entire series from start to finish and get a better idea of how close the two works are to one another.
I started reading The Cold Dish, the first Longmire novel, days after I watched the season 3 season finale. I was in awe of how the season ended, knew I had the Longmire novel at hand, and wanted to spend more time with the Longmire characters, so the timing, in that respect, felt perfect.
Throughout the novel I was aware I had seen this basic plot on the show, and yet it felt… different… there was a familiarity to it, without a full on sense of deja-vu, which I appreciated. I felt like I was along for a ride with old friends, without feeling like I knew what was coming around every turn, and there were no surprises in store for me. By the time I got to the end, I was certain I had encountered the crime before, and yet, while I have a fairly good memory for the who-done-its, Craig Johnson had surprised me, and I wanted to know what I had forgotten.
After a little digging around I found that I was correctly recalling similar plot points were in the tenth episode of the first season, and yet, I do not feel it would be fair to say that the episode was pulled directly from this novel — so while each might give you hints and things to think about while enjoying the other, I’m not convinced either will help you solve the who-done-it in the other. And yes, to me, that makes each twice as powerful.
I for one am grateful there are nearly a dozen more books for me to read in this Penguin Mystery series. While I cross my fingers, and join the multitudes hoping for a fourth season, at least I’ll have some reading material to keep me from missing Longmire and his pals too much.
For more info, you may want to visit: Craig Johnson’s Website
Longmire, A&E’s contemporary crime thriller set in Big Sky country, is based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels by bestselling author Craig Johnson. The series stars Australian actor Robert Taylor (The Matrix) as Walt Longmire, the charismatic, dedicated and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, along with Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Gallactica) as his right-hand deputy Vic Moretti, Lou Diamond Phillips (Numb3rs), Bailey Chase (Damages), and Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)