Walt Longmire Books in Order: How to read Craig Johnson’s series?

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Sheriff Walter ‘Walt’ Longmire is the main character of a series of novels written by Craig Johnson. At the beginning of the series, Walt is the well-respected Sheriff of Absaroka County and plans to run for reelection again the following year.

He is a widower, his wife died from cancer; his daughter, Cady, who is an attorney in Philadelphia; and his closest friend is Henry Standing Bear. Of course, his work is to catch killers in his County, and he is good at it.

How to read the Walt Longmire Series in Order?

Every novel in the Longmire book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one book to the other.

  1. The Cold Dish – After 25 years as sheriff of Absaroka County, Walt Longmire’s hopes of finishing out his tenure in peace are dashed when Cody Pritchard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Two years earlier, Cody has been one of the high school boys given suspended sentences for raping a local Cheyenne girl. Somebody is seeking vengeance.
  2. Death Without Company – When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past.
  3. Kindness Goes Unpunished – Walt Longmire joins his friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to the Philadelphia to see his daughter. He hasn’t even put his boots up when Cady is viciously attacked and left near death on the steps of the Franklin Institute.
  1. Another Man’s Moccasins – When the body of a young Vietnamese woman is discovered alongside the interstate in Wyoming’s Absaroka County, Sheriff Walt Longmire finds only one suspect, Virgil White Buffalo, a Crow with a troubling past.
  2. The Dark Horse – Wade Barsad, a man with a dubious past and a gift for making enemies, burned his wife Mary’s horses in their barn; in retribution, she shot him in the head six times, or so the story goes. But Sheriff Walt Longmire doesn’t believe Mary’s confession and is determined to dig deeper.
  3. Junkyard Dogs – It’s a volatile new economy in Durant when the owners of a multimillion-dollar development of ranchettes want to get rid of the adjacent Stewart junkyard. Meeting the notorious Stewart clan is an adventure unto itself, and conflict erupts.
  1. Hell is Empty – Raynaud Shade, an adopted Crow Indian rumored to be one of the country’s most dangerous sociopaths, has just confessed to murdering a boy ten years ago. Walt is asked to transport Shade through a blizzard to the site, but what begins as a typical criminal transport turns personal when the veteran lawman learns that he knows the dead boy’s family.
  2. Divorce Horse – eBook short story.
  3. As the Crow Flies – Cady is getting married in two weeks, and the wedding locale arrangements have just gone up in smoke signals. Fearing Cady’s wrath, Walt and his old friend Henry Standing Bear set out for the Cheyenne Reservation to find a new site for the nuptials. But their expedition ends in horror as they witness a young Crow woman plummeting from Painted Warrior’s majestic cliffs.
  4. Christmas in Absaroka County – Four Longmire Christmas eBook short stories.
  5. Messenger – eBook short story.
  6. A Serpent’s Tooth – It’s homecoming for the Durant Dogies when Cord Lynear, a Mormon ‘lost boy’ forced off his compound for rebellious behavior, shows up in Absaroka County. Without much guidance, divine or otherwise, Sheriff Walt Longmire, Vic Moretti, and Henry Standing Bear search for the boy’s mother and find themselves on a high-plains scavenger hunt that ends at the barbed-wire doorstep of an interstate polygamy group.
  1. Spirit of Steamboat – Sheriff Walt Longmire is in his office reading A Christmas Carol when he is interrupted by a ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar and more than a few questions about his predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt’s on his own this Christmas Eve, so he agrees to help her.
  2. Any Other Name – Walt is sinking into high-plains winter discontent when his former boss, Lucian Conally, asks him to take on a mercy case in an adjacent county. Detective Gerald Holman is dead and Lucian wants to know what drove his old friend to take his own life.
  3. Wait for Signs – Twelve Longmire stories.
  4. Dry Bone – When Jen, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found surfaces in Sheriff 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.
  1. The Highwayman – When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving ‘officer needs assistance’ calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago
  2. An Obvious Fact – In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated.
  3. The Western Star – Sheriff Walt Longmire is enjoying a celebratory beer after a weapons certification at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy when a younger sheriff confronts him with a photograph of twenty-five armed men standing in front of a Challenger steam locomotive. It takes him back to when, fresh from the battlefields of Vietnam, then-deputy Walt accompanied his mentor Lucian to the annual Wyoming Sheriff’s Association junket held on the excursion train known as the Western Star, which ran the length of Wyoming from Cheyenne to Evanston and back.
  1. Depth of Winter – An international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt’s beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten-degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army.
  2. Land of Wolves – Attempting to recover from his harrowing experiences in Mexico, in Land of Wolves Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is neck deep in the investigation of what could or could not be the suicidal hanging of a shepherd. With unsettling connections to a Basque family with a reputation for removing the legs of Absaroka County sheriffs, matters become even more complicated with the appearance of an oversize wolf in the Big Horn Mountains to which Walt finds himself feeling more and more empathetic.
  3. Next To Last Stand – One of the most viewed paintings in American history, Custer’s Last Fight, copied and distributed by Anheuser-Busch at a rate of over two million copies a year, was destroyed in a fire at the 7th Cavalry Headquarters in Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1946. Or was it? When Charley Lee Stillwater dies of an apparent heart attack at the Wyoming Home for Soldiers & Sailors, Walt Longmire is called in to try and make sense of a piece of a painting and a Florsheim shoebox containing a million dollars, sending the good sheriff on the trail of a dangerous art heist.
  1. Daughter of the Morning Star – When Lolo Long’s niece Jaya begins receiving death threats, Tribal Police Chief Long calls on Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire along with Henry Standing Bear as lethal backup. Jaya “Longshot” Long is the phenom of the Lame Deer Lady Stars High School basketball team and is following in the steps of her older sister, who disappeared a year previously, a victim of the scourge of missing Native Woman in Indian Country. Lolo hopes that having Longmire involved might draw some public attention to the girl’s plight, but with this maneuver, she also inadvertently places the good sheriff in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next.
  2. Hell and Back – What if you woke up lying in the middle of the street in the infamous town of Fort Pratt, Montana, where thirty young Native boys perished in a tragic 1896 boarding-school fire? What if every person you encountered in that endless night was dead? What if you were covered in blood and missing a bullet from the gun holstered on your hip? What if there was something out there in the yellowed skies, along with the deceased and the smell of ash and dust, something the Northern Cheyenne refer to as the Éveohtsé-heómėse, the Wandering Without, the Taker of Souls?
  3. The Longmire Defense – Deep in the heart of the Wyoming countryside, Sheriff of Absaroka County, Walt Longmire, is called to a crime scene like few others that he has seen. This crime brings up issues that go back to Walt’s grandfather’s time in Wyoming, as the revelations he learns about his grandfather come back to offer clues and motives for Walt’s investigation.

If you like our article about the Longmire series in order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in the Joe Pickett Series written by C.J. Box and the Cork O’Connor series by William Kent Krueger.

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  1. Soooo enjoyed this series on Netflix. It should have continued. Now I want to read the books as they had come out.

    1. Have enjoyed the Craig Johnson books. Used to reading Historic biographies, especially about WWII. Craig provides a wonderful platform to continue the Longmire series in the best place-our own minds. Sorry A&E and Netflix-YOU REALLY SCREWED UP BY NOT CONTINUING THE SERIES!

    2. Started reading books first, then watched first episode on Netflix.
      It was awful compared to books. I MIGHT watch after reading the whole series, but probably not.

    3. Yes, the books are soooooo much more enjoyable than the TV shows. The humor and character development in the books are outstanding.

  2. Read the Joe Pickett Series by CJBox and they were awesome. Looking for another good series. Suggestions???

  3. My husband and I devoured the Longmire series on Netflix. Our first binge watching experience & so well worth it. Now I’m starting the books in order. Please do a movie or something for us Longmire fans. It was by far the best thing we have seen in many years. My sister and her family say please also!

    1. My husband and I also binged on Longmire~sometimes till the sun rose on our ranch. I love, love all the characters and didn’t want it to end.

  4. I have binge-watched the series as well and am just now finishing “The Depth of Winter”. I need more to material to satisfy my “Walt fix!” Make a movie. Restart the series. Craig, Keep Writing!!!!

  5. So do you need to read the Longmire books in order? Or is each one it’s own story? I wanted to read them in order but it takes so long to get each copy checked out because of waiting lists I figured I’d just read them whichever was available at the time.

    1. You don’t *have* to….. but it sure makes things less confusing. There is a continuity from book to book and the later books reference things that happened in the previous books. You’ll miss many humorous asides as well as references that explain what Walt is feeling or thinking at the time and you won’t have a clue as to why he would say, “‘68 was a bad year for me” whereas it speaks volumes to someone who read the details of why that is true.

  6. I’m a bit confused. In the TV series, Walt’s wife was murdered, and he spends parts of each early season both solving the “crime of the week” and searching for his wife’s killer. I didn’t read the first two books because I believed the TV show was based on them, especially the one about the boys accused of raping a Cheyenne young woman. Your description of Walt says that his wife died of cancer. Did they change that for the TV Show?

    1. Indeed, that’s one of the differences between the books and the tv show. In the books, Walt’s Wife died of cancer.

    2. Not so fast, she was dying of cancer, but was murdered in Denver. Walt wanted to keep it a secret from Cady. She was murdered by an Indian hired by Barlow Connally to keep her from interfering with his Casino plans.

  7. Jessie
    Since I live near Craig, I have met and spent some time with him.
    Craig is not only an awesomely talented author, he is a wonderful, down to earth human being that it is an honor to know.

    1. My husband and I adored the Longmire shows and wish they would keep coming. Did Robert Taylor want out of acting in the series? Why have they stopped filming?

  8. As much as I appreciate your list, it would be nice if you also provided just a straight list of titles with no plot summaries. The plot summaries contain spoilers – I’d like to read each novel without any idea as to what happens in future novels. I ended up copying your blog text, then laboriously deleting all the summaries and trying not to read them while I did.

  9. as a new subscriber to netflix, i too devoured the longmire series in binge fashion and don’t know what to do with myself. i loved his pursuit of truth, the characters, beautiful backdrop etc. i think i may have developed a crush on walt myself. i’m also trying to find memorabilia like t-shirts and soundtracks but it’s confusing. i’d like to reach the books in order. can’t tell if there were 13 or 20. shame on netflix; great series!!

  10. Just read “The Depth of Winter”. I found the ending , the epilogue, to be quite unsatisfying. Is Walt alive, is he hallucinating, dreaming or dead? What happened to the seer. I’m assuming Walt lives and is dreaming . Otherwise a great suspenseful tale.

  11. Getting ready to read the books – got hooked on the Netflix series and want more! Do I need to read them in order? Is there another series coming out on cable? Or a movie?

  12. My husband and I binged on the series as well. Why would Netflix drop the series?!? Please bring Longmire back. It is the only show that’s worth TV watching time!

    I see that other people have asked the same questions: do you need to read the books in order? How many Longmire books are there?

  13. My husband and I just finished binging Longmire on Netflix, and truly, we feel like we’ve just come out of an very intense high! We’ve not read the books, but I have to say that the casting was brilliant-both Robert Taylor and Katee Sackoff, the centerpieces of the ensemble, were top notch. Did either of them get Emmy awards? Where has Robert Taylor been?? And think Katee’s performance is her career best. Lou Diamond Phillips also was at his best. The actors who played Branch, Jacob and Ferg were also excellent. This production has set an awfully high bar for all others! Thank you-and please continue with more seasons!! (And, by the way, the landscape was an important character, as well!)

  14. There is nothing that compares to Longmier on television. I wish that Netflix would reconsider and begin filming the series again. Please!

  15. The Tony Hillerman book series of Leaphorn and Chee have a very similar approach and feel to them as Longmire. I was very sad when Tony Hillerman passed away. Anne Hillerman, his daughter has continued the series. Longmire is the only series I have found so far that has compared to the Hillerman books. I’ve only watched part of the series and so far I’m hooked. I will be checking out the books as well. Keep up the great writing. It’s an escape from city life for us city people.

  16. Thank you! I love Craig Johnson’s Longmire series, and CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series, and so many mentioned in your article!

  17. I’ll start by saying I’ve read all of the Walt Longmire books and listened to the audio books which have been very thoughtfully read by George Guidall. They’re among my favorites and I come back to them repeatedly. As for this article, it doesn’t even seem like the “author” of this piece has even read the books. If you’re going to call this How to Read Longmire, you might wan’t to do more than regurgitate what has already been written elsewhere. I smell a plaigerist. In my opinion, this entire site is merely a way to put advertisements in front of eyeballs. Look elsewhere for useful content.

    1. I listened to the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon on audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed how the characters voices get in your head and you feel immersed in their world. It is a rather expensive way to experience a long series however. Where did you get your audiobooks?

  18. Really enjoy the Longmire audio books read by George Guddel(sp?). To really get to know the characters and their interactions this is the way to go. Did some cowboying myself in Wyoming and the setting is spot on. Alongside tv series is good, but, no where near as good as the books. I think he develops his characters much deeper than Tony Hillerman, and he USED to be my favorite western author. Check out the audio books. The author and the narrator were meant to do this together!

  19. Loved the show…except a few items:

    Really would have loved to have an actor from the US as Walt Longmire…not that Aussie Robert T did a bad job…..I imagine Viggo or Dylan McDermott or Christopher Meloni

    Henry really out to have been performed by a Native American actor…Lou D just doesn’t do it……Adam Beach…Zahn McClarnon who played Mathias the tribal sheriff.

    The thing at the end between Walt and Vic…just no! Nothing about her character warranted that interaction!

    I was not ready for the series to end!
    now will read these books….

  20. My daughter and her fiance added me to their Netflix plan and during a recent visit she set about ‘building’ me a selection of movies or TV shows we thought I might like. I picked the Longmire series, just by the teaser about what the show was about. Modern day Mr. Dillion and all that.
    After watching a couple episodes we fell in love with the snappy dialog and were hooked. We ended up watching episode after episode for about 4 nights.
    She even called her fiance and insisted he get on Netflix and catch up with us so she could continue watching when she got home. I think I saw the finale before they did, but I’ve been re-watching the shows again, starting at Season 1 episode 1.
    I guess I’m like the rest of the Longmire fans. I can’t get enough. In my mind, I’ve already got Cady elected to her new job, Vic as lead deputy at the office and Walt head of security at the Four Arrows Casino. Seemed like natural transitions to me.
    I’m hopeful the tribe will benefit from having a new manager at the casino and might actually realize a steady income to improve their lives.
    Still left hanging as far as the estate of the Connallys, Any other family out there? You might have noticed a ‘supposed wife’ getting into the Barlow’s limousine at the funeral. In prior shows Barlow mentioned he’d tried marriage and it wasn’t for him…but then it was a little confusing, especially when he mentioned having time to have another son. Hopefully not giving too much away as a spoiler alert.
    I read through a list of books by this author and noticed several story lines we haven’t seen in the series and was wondering if there will be more in the future.

  21. I wrote a previous comment on June 28th and would like to add further. I’ve now watched the first 3 seasons of Longmire. I have listened to 12 of the audiobooks so far. Here’s my updated opinion. Other than the title of the series on tv and the name of the main character in Craig Johnson’s story series, there is little in common. The tv series is fairly good and interesting, but not one character even comes close, with the exception of Robert Taylor as the Sheriff, to the storybook characters. Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear is a farce. Henry and deputy Vic Moretti’s relationship with Longmire is vital to the whole undertone that I believe makes the storybook so enjoyable. I’m surprised Craig Johnson would give his stamp of approval. I realize the tv segments are only about an hour long hence none of the book plots can be developed. But the characters could be developed much, much better. Thinking the tv series represents anything close to the real story board is a disservice to the Longmire reading series.

  22. Have been working my way thru the Longmire books, as they were written.

    Just inserted the short stories of Wait For Signs, after Serpents Tooth. Loved it.

    Am ordering next 3 books today for myself and a son who is pacing me, from afar.

    So glad to have found CJohnson. Don’t read as much fiction as US History, but greatly enjoyed TClancy, RParker, and THillerman and found a large void appeared as each writer passed.

    That being said – I’m not a big fan of tv/show remakes of book series. They NEVER live up to my minds eye of the stories. Read the books first is my recommendation.
    Justified, Deadwood, and Yellowstone stand out to me because there is no writings to contrast them with. The Longmire TV series always had me shaking my head. I like LDP’s work, but as The Cheyenne Nation? Ugh.

    Selfishly, I wish a long and healthy life to Craig Johnson, Walt, and Henry-keep up your outstanding work.

  23. Love YELLOWSTONE and since it is off season someone suggested watching LONGMIRE and I was NOT disappointed. With the resurgence of fans for western dramas this is one that NETFLEX should continue running with as it was a great series and has so much more life in it ! ! !

  24. It helps to read them in order as there are subplots that develop and references as the series progresses. Stand alone – you will miss alot of background.

    IMO – the TV series only skirts many of the book plots. So much is left out. So much is added for TV. Characters and relationship in the books are much more developed – especially Walt and Henry. Henry in the show has nowhere the strength and character as he does in the books. Until I read the books, the relationship between Henry and Walt seemed so ambivalent. While I love Lou Diamond Phillips – he never seems “big” enough for this role – reading the books enforced that. A young Grame Green could have been a good Henry – even the actor who plays Mathias could have visually fit the roll more to the book’s Henry – except for size. And the book’s Omar is often involved and basically a “good guy”….

    I would love to see the mysticism that Walt experiences starting in Hell is Empty explored further…..and Dry Bones really needed to have a dedicated episode or two!

    Overall – you have to approach the TV series as almost unrelated to the books, or as an extension to them as very little plot is actually shared. BUT!!!! I love them both!

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