Dry Bones: A Walt Longmire Mystery (A Longmire Mystery)

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9780525426936: Dry Bones: A Walt Longmire Mystery (A Longmire Mystery)

The eleventh installment of Craig Johnson’s New York Times bestselling Longmire series—the basis for the hit drama series LONGMIRE now on Netflix

Craig Johnson's new novel, The Western Star, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.

 
When Jen, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found surfaces in Sherriff Walt Longmire’s jurisdiction, it appears to be a windfall for the High Plains Dinosaur Museum—until Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne rancher on whose property the remains were discovered, turns up dead, floating face down in a turtle pond. With millions of dollars at stake, a number of groups step forward to claim her, including Danny’s family, the tribe, and the federal government. As Wyoming’s Acting Deputy Attorney and a cadre of FBI officers descend on the town, Walt is determined to find out who would benefit from Danny’s death, enlisting old friends Lucian Connolly and Omar Rhoades, along with Dog and best friend Henry Standing Bear, to trawl the vast Lone Elk ranch looking for answers to a sixty-five million year old cold case that’s heating up fast.

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About the Author:

Craig Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

Copyright © 2015 Craig Johnson


1

She was close to thirty years old when she was killed.

A big girl, she liked to carouse with the boys at the local watering holes, which of course led to a lot of illegitimate children, but by all counts, she was a pretty good single parent and could take care of herself. One night, though, a gang must have jumped her; they were all younger than she was, they had numbers, they might’ve even been family, and after they broke her leg and she was on the ground, it was pretty much over.

There was no funeral. They killed her and left what remained there by the water, where the sediment from the forgotten creek built up around her, layer after layer, compressing and compacting her to the point where the bones leeched away and were replaced by minerals.

It was as if she’d turned to stone just to keep from being forgotten.

It’s interesting how her remains were found; her namesake, Jennifer Watt, was traveling with Dave Baumann, the director of the High Plains Dinosaur Museum, when they got a flat—not an unusual occurrence on the red roads the ranchers used for the more inaccessible areas of their ranches where the larger chunks of shale attacked sidewalls like tomahawks. The bigger rock is cheaper, but it’s also the size of bricks and has lots of sharp edges, edges that like to make meals of anything less than ten-ply.

Dave had been trying to squeak another season out of the tires on the ’67 Land Rover, but there they stood, staring at a right rear with a distinct lack of round, in the middle of the Lone Elk Ranch. While he fished the jack and spare from the hood and began the arduous task of replacing the tire, Jennifer unloaded Brody, her Tibetan mastiff, and went for a walk. Hoping to meet a friend on the place, she followed a ridge around a cornice, but the dog, who was 150 pounds with a heavy coat, began panting. Before long Jen decided that it might be a pretty good idea for the two of them to try and get to some shade, not an easy proposition out on the Powder River country; luckily, there was a rock overhang along the ridge with enough room for her and the dog to get out of the late afternoon sun.

She wore her blonde hair in a ponytail that stuck through the adjustment strap of her Hole-in-the-Wall Bar ball cap, and, pulling the collapsible dog bowl from her pack, she slipped out a Nalgene bottle, took a swig, and then poured the mastiff a drink.

Jennifer looked out onto the grass that undulated like a gigantic, rolling sea. It was easy to imagine the Western Interior (Cretaceous) Seaway or the Niobraran Sea that had once covered this land, splitting the continent of North America into two landmasses, Laramidia to the west and Appalachia to the east. The great sea had stretched from Mexico to the Arctic and had been over two thousand feet deep. She settled under the rock and petted the dog, her green eyes scanning the landscape.

Jennifer pulled her video camera from her pack and panned the distance, seeing things out there on the high plains, things that didn’t exist, at least not anymore—predatory marine reptiles like long-necked plesiosaurs and more alligator-like mosasaurs almost eighty feet long. Sharks such as Squalicorax swam through her imagination along with giant, shellfish-eating Ptychodus mortoni.

When she’d been six, her father had brought her to this country from Tucson, Arizona, and had dragged her along on his private excavations that helped support his rock shop on the old highway out near Lake DeSmet between Durant and Sheridan. She still remembered what she’d said one day as they’d gotten out of his battered pickup, her fingers climbing up his pant leg until she found the reassuring hand with gloves worn like saddle leather, the adjustment straps with the transparent red beads. “There’s nothing out here, Dad.”

He surveyed the rolling hills that led from the Bighorn Mountains to the endless Powder River country, smiled as he pushed back his straw hat, and spoke gently to her. “There’s everything here; you just have to know where to look.”

Jennifer had learned to look and had never stopped; Dave Baumann’s hands and hers were in the excavations that had led to the displays that crowded the High Plains Dinosaur Museum in Durant, and at twenty-six, she was still searching.

Truth be told, Jen liked dead things better than live ones—they were less trouble, the conversations being one-sided. A lot of investigators and paleontologists are more comfortable that way, able to accept the consensus of truth, disregarding the absolute as something that always carries the danger of being overturned by some new and extraordinary piece of evidence.

She lowered the camera, took another sip of water, and poured her dog more. Brody sighed and shook his massive head, and Jen leaned back under the rock overhang to try to decide what she was going to do with the old man’s rock shop, a ramshackle affair near the lake that had started out as a trailer but through the years had evolved into a labyrinth of wooden fences lined with geodes, gems, quartz, and rock samples, most of them worthless.

He had died the year before, and she knew the land was more valuable than the structure itself, but she’d grown up there and loved the old place, as cluttered and tacky as it might be. She pulled the cap over her eyes and dozed until she became aware of a protracted growl in her dog’s throat. She swatted at him, but he continued to rumble a warning until she finally lifted the bill of her cap to look at him. He was looking directly up. Jen’s eyes followed to where a two-fingered talon stretched out of the rock ceiling down toward her, almost as if it were imploring. She grabbed the camera and began to film what would become one of the greatest paleontological discoveries in modern times.

Victoria Moretti sipped the coffee from the chrome lid of my thermos, leaned forward, and, peering through the windshield, watched the man with an intensity that only her tarnished gold eyes could command. “Is that some weird-ass Wyoming fishing technique I don’t know about?”

I could see that Omar was tossing something into the water from the banks of the man-made reservoir.

“What the hell is he doing?”

Ruby, my dispatcher, had received a call from him early in the morning and had bushwhacked Dog and me with it when we came in the door. I had filled up my thermos and in turn bushwhacked Vic before heading out to the ten-thousand-acre Lone Elk place to find out what was up.

Outdoor adventurer, outfitter, and big-game bon vivant, Omar Rhoades had contracts with all the big ranchers and sometimes used their property for extended hunting and fishing junkets. Usually he kept his spots secret, but this time he’d told Ruby where he was and that I might want to come out and meet him.

Most everything was in bloom in late May, and I breathed in the scents from the open windows of my truck. As I stared at the aspens and cottonwood, they all began stretching to the sky like those cypresses in Italy that looked like thumb smudges.

My undersheriff turned and looked at me some more. “I thought he was in China.”

“Mongolia.”

The Custer look-alike was dressed in a state-of-the-art fishing vest, waders, and his ever-present black cowboy hat with more flies stuck in it than Orvis has in its catalog. All in all, I estimated the total worth of his outfit at somewhere close to two thousand dollars, and he wasn’t even carrying the fly rod, which was sticking out the rear of his custom-made SUV that dwarfed my three-quarter-ton.

I leaned forward and stared through the windshield. We watched as he drew something from one hand, carefully took aim, and tossed whatever it was onto the smooth surface of the water, black like an oil slick.

Vic turned to look at me as she reached back and scratched the fur behind Dog’s ear. “Do you think he’s finally lost it?”

I pulled the handle and climbed out of the truck, careful to keep the Saint Bernard/German shepherd/plains grizzly inside. “Let’s go find out.”

The beauty of Italian descent followed with my thermos as we glided our way through the morning dew in the buffalo grass. “You know, the landed gentry get like this when they spend too much time alone.”

I whispered over my shoulder, “Like what?”

“Fucking nuts.” She increased her pace and caught up with me. “He’s not armed, is he?”

“If he were, I don’t think he’d be throwing rocks.” I stopped at the worn path surrounding the reservoir, curious, but still attempting to abide by the protocol of the high plains angler so as to not upset the fishing—if, in fact, that was what he was doing.

“Hey, Omar.”

He started, just visibly, and spoke to us over his shoulder as he continued throwing pebbles into the water. “Walt. Vic.”

“What are you doing?”

He glanced at us but then tossed another stone. “Trying to keep those snapping turtles off that body out there.”

We tiptoed to the edge of the bank in an attempt to keep the water from seeping into our boots, and Vic and I joined Omar in his target practice, Vic showing her acumen by bouncing a flat stone off the shell of a small turtle that skittered and swam into the depths. “Any idea who it is?”

Omar leaned forward and lifted his Oakley Radarlock yellow-tinted shooting glasses to peer into the reflective surface of the water at the half-submerged body. “I’m thinking it’s Danny.”

I stared at the corpse, which was a good forty feet from the bank, and tried to figure out how we were going to retrieve it, in that we had no boat. “Himself?”

My undersheriff squinted. “How can you tell?”

“Not everybody has hair like that.” Omar nailed a big turtle that had risen beside the body like a surfacing submarine and had gotten caught in the mass of silver locks that had fanned out from the body. “Danny always had nice hair.”

Omar reached behind him and, pulling out a fancy, stainless steel thermos of his own, poured the tomato-red contents into a cut-glass double-old-fashioned tumbler. “Libation?”

She stared at him, one hand on her hip. “It’s eight o’clock in the morning.”

He shrugged and sipped. “Sun’s over the yardarm somewhere.”

Omar and I watched as Vic expertly skipped a pebble across the glossy surface of the water, the pellet deflecting off another turtle. “How many turtles are there in this damn thing, anyway?”

Omar grunted. “Danny and his brother Enic protect them; nobody is allowed to hurt them—they’re sacred to the Crow and the Northern Cheyenne.”

Vic shook her head and nailed another. “Is there any living thing that isn’t sacred to the Crow and the Northern Cheyenne?”

I tossed a stone but missed. “Nope.”

Omar sipped from his Bloody Mary. “They’re a totem for fertility, protection, and patience.” He turned to look at me. “How are your daughter and granddaughter?”

There was a silence as I formulated an answer, but before I could speak, Vic chimed in. “Excuse me, but did I miss a transition in the conversation here?”

I tapped my shoulder. “Cady’s got a tattoo of a turtle—reminiscent of her willful youth at Berkeley.” I glanced back at him. “Should be here the day after tomorrow.”

He nodded. “Lookin’ forward to meeting Lola.”

I smiled and picked up my thermos. “Any ideas on how we get him out of there?” I glanced at the big-game hunter. “You’ve got your waders on.”

He shook his head. “Oh, no. The bank drops off ten feet out, and the reservoir is about sixty feet deep—used to be a shale pit.”

I nodded and drank some coffee as Omar refilled his glass and Vic tossed a rock, this time missing her shelled target but causing him to duck his head and silently retreat into the depths. “Can I assume that nine-thousand-dollar Oyster fly rod of yours will do the trick?”

Vic crouched at an inlet on the other side of the pond. “I’m trying to resist saying something about the ironic aspect of a guy who protects the turtles but then falls in his own pond and becomes snapper chow.”

“We don’t know it’s him.”

“Sure we do.” She held up a paper bag. “I found his lunch, and it’s got his name on it.” She read, “Daddy-O.”

“Topflight detecting, that’s what that is.” I watched as Omar flipped the fly rod back and forth, trailing the line in cyclical patterns like gossamer wings, reflecting in the morning sunshine. “Think you can get him on the first try?”

He ignored my crass remark and flipped the fly forward, yanking it back to set the hook in what appeared to be the sleeve of a green canvas shirt. The outdoorsman carefully walked the banks and reeled in the body as we watched who we assumed was Danny Lone Elk spin slowly with his one arm extended like a superhero in flight, a trail of disappointed turtles in his wake.

As the body came alongside the bank, I reached in, grabbed it by the collar, and dragged the upper part of him onto the grass. “He weighs a ton.”

“Lungs are probably full of water.” Vic leaned over and grabbed the other side of his collar and we both heaved the deadweight onto the bank, a forty-pound snapping turtle with a carapace the size of a washbasin attached to the dead man’s left hand.

Vic dropped her side and backed away from the radially set iridescent eyes, the color not unlike her own. “What the fuck?”

The aquatic monster released the dead man’s hand, hissed like a steam train, and extended its neck toward us, evidently not willing to give up its breakfast.

Vic drew her sidearm, but I pushed it away. “Don’t. It doesn’t mean any harm.”

“The hell it doesn’t; look at him.” She considered. “I’ve shot people for less than that shit.”

I kneeled down, and the beast stretched out his neck even further and struck at me with snakelike speed, the reach surprisingly far. “You know these things are seventy million years old?”

Vic reluctantly holstered her weapon. “This one in particular?”

“They appeared before the dinosaurs died out.” I picked up a stick and extended the end toward the animal’s open mouth. “See the little wiggly red thing at the end of its tongue?”

Vic raised her eyebrows. “What, that means he’s popular with the ladies?”

“That’s what he uses to ambush fish—they think it’s a worm.”

“That’s disgusting.”

I walked around him and raised his rear end, placing my hand underneath the plastron and lifting the creature, rather awkwardly, from the ground. His head swiveled back, and he snapped with the sound of a small firecracker.

Both Omar and my undersheriff stepped back. “He’s going to bite the shit out of you.”

“No, they can’t reach if you’re holding them from the bottom.” A stream of something dribbled down the length of my jeans onto my boot.

They studied me, Vic, of course, the first to speak. “Did that thing just piss on you?”

“I believe it did.” I swung the big beast around, lowered it back into the water, and watched as the creature settled in the mud and looked back at me, apparently now in no great hurry to get away.

“I guess he likes you.”

I shook the water from my hands and studied the round eyes that watched me warily. “Might be a female.”

“Well, anytime you’re through turtle diddling, we’ve got work to do.” She approached the cadaver again and rolled the body over, looked at what remained of Danny Lone Elk’s face, and immediately turned away. “Oh shit, his eyes are gone.”

Omar kneeled by the dead man and turned ...

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Descrizione libro Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Wyoming’s beloved lawman must solve his coldest case yet when a T. rex skeleton surfaces—along with a dead rancher—in Absaroka CountyLongmire, the TV adaptation of Craig Johnson’s New York Times bestselling Longmire Mystery series, has ratcheted up demand for the Wyoming sheriff’s written adventures.Dry Bones is certain to join Johnson’s most recent Longmire novels when it shoots onto theNew York Times hardcover bestseller list.When the largest, most complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex ever found is discovered in Absaroka County, it appears to have nothing to do with Walt—that is, until the Cheyenne rancher who claims her is found face down in a turtle pond. As a number of parties dispute the ownership of the priceless remains, including the family of dead rancher Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne tribe, Wyoming’s Deputy Attorney General, and a cadre of FBI men, Walt must recruit undersheriff Victoria Moretti, Henry Standing Bear, and Dog to investigate a sixty-six-million year-old cold case that’s heating up fast. Codice libro della libreria 113609785

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Descrizione libro VIKING, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The eleventh installment of Craig Johnson s New York Times bestselling Longmire series--the basis for the hit drama series LONGMIRE now on Netflix Craig Johnson s new novel, The Western Star, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017. When Jen, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found surfaces in Sherriff Walt Longmire s jurisdiction, it appears to be a windfall for the High Plains Dinosaur Museum--until Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne rancher on whose property the remains were discovered, turns up dead, floating face down in a turtle pond. With millions of dollars at stake, a number of groups step forward to claim her, including Danny s family, the tribe, and the federal government. As Wyoming s Acting Deputy Attorney and a cadre of FBI officers descend on the town, Walt is determined to find out who would benefit from Danny s death, enlisting old friends Lucian Connolly and Omar Rhoades, along with Dog and best friend Henry Standing Bear, to trawl the vast Lone Elk ranch looking for answers to a sixty-five million year old cold case that s heating up fast. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780525426936

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Professor of Mathematics Marywood University Scranton Pennsylvania Craig Johnson
Editore: VIKING, United States (2015)
ISBN 10: 0525426930 ISBN 13: 9780525426936
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Descrizione libro VIKING, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The eleventh installment of Craig Johnson s New York Times bestselling Longmire series--the basis for the hit drama series LONGMIRE now on Netflix Craig Johnson s new novel, The Western Star, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017. When Jen, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found surfaces in Sherriff Walt Longmire s jurisdiction, it appears to be a windfall for the High Plains Dinosaur Museum--until Danny Lone Elk, the Cheyenne rancher on whose property the remains were discovered, turns up dead, floating face down in a turtle pond. With millions of dollars at stake, a number of groups step forward to claim her, including Danny s family, the tribe, and the federal government. As Wyoming s Acting Deputy Attorney and a cadre of FBI officers descend on the town, Walt is determined to find out who would benefit from Danny s death, enlisting old friends Lucian Connolly and Omar Rhoades, along with Dog and best friend Henry Standing Bear, to trawl the vast Lone Elk ranch looking for answers to a sixty-five million year old cold case that s heating up fast. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780525426936

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