Do you mind if I gush?
Gruff, plain-spoken, abrupt, commanding, tough, decisive, pragmatic, these are all words that could be used to describe Craig Johnson’s popular character, Walt Longmire. He’s a hero with flaws. A man with a past. He has rough edges. One might say he is “a man’s man”, the type of guy that most men can relate to on some level.
Sherriff Longmire is supported by a cast of characters that are equally interesting. The small town is itself a character. It’s a place where everyone knows your name and most of your personal business. If you want to keep secrets, you’ll need to bury them deep. You know where to go to buy a beer, a gun, and a good meal and that’s all you need. It’s definitely not Mayberry.
As tough as Walt is, he allows the women around him to take care of him to a certain degree. He inspires both love and loyalty in most of the people around him but finds it difficult to reciprocate. He even keeps his best friend (and only real friend) at a distance. Henry responds to this behavior by meddling in Walt’s life in a variety of ways.
The Walt Longmire series is the revival of the cowboy in a modern West. This cowboy happens to ride around in a truck, but he still carries a gun and he knows how to use it. He may not say much, but there’s a lot going on under that Stetson. Start with the first book in the series, The Cold Dish, and you’ll be hooked.
And if you are a fan of the Longmire series, check out William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. Cork is a former Chicago cop living in a small Minnesota town where he moved for peace, quiet, and a lot less crime. Unfortunately, his short tenure as sheriff did not go well and he’s lost everything he cares about.
In Iron Lake, the first in the O’Connor series, we see Cork struggling to get by since his life has disintegrated. A shocking murder and a secret that hits to close to home jolts him out of his apathy. Cork must battle himself and the elements to put things right.
These authors have both created gritty, down-to-earth characters and placed them into settings where the average person has worked and played. They’re imperfect; they have numerous flaws. They’re real. They need to write faster.