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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011 2:43 pm
A New Short Story from Craig Johnson
Posted by: Keir Graff

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, author of the top-notch Wyoming mystery series starring Sheriff Walt Longmire, has a great holiday tradition. Every year, he e-mails his fans a brand-new, unpublished short story. This year, he cut it a little bit closer to Christmas Eve than usual, and so I was away on vacation by the time it arrived. Now that I’m back, however, I e-mailed Johnson to ask whether I could share his story with readers of Likely Stories. “ABSOLUTELY!” came the reply (from Bordeaux, where the author is having a “blast” . . . who said that crime [fiction] doesn’t pay?).

In “Unbalanced,” it’s a bitterly cold night and Walt is headed for the airport in Billings, Montana, to pick up his daughter, Cady. He stops for gas (keeping the engine running, naturally) and picks up an unusual passenger. I love the way these stories fit with the Longmire books while still being something a bit different; they have a bittersweet, reflective tone that still fits the holiday season without banging readers over the head with a Christmas tree.

By Craig Johnson

She was waiting on the bench outside the Conoco service station/museum/post office in Garryowen, Montana, and the only part of her clothing that was showing were the 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 Bighorn country is a beautiful swale echoing 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 the seventh cavalry.

Download the PDF and read the rest of “Unbalanced“!



7 Responses to “A New Short Story from Craig Johnson”
  1. Robert Smith Says:

    Do you know where I can download all of Craig Johnsons holiday release short story pdf’s?

    Thanks in advance,


  2. Keir Says:

    I forwarded your question to Mr. Johnson yesterday and just received this reply:

    “Penguin is going to produce them as an e-Special before Christmas, and then ASAP Publishing is coming out with a special, limited-edition copy for LLC in March.”

    Sounds like a good item for your wish list!

  3. Keir Says:

    Oh, and P.S.: “I’ll also be doing another free one on Christmas Eve.”

  4. dan's wife Says:

    Put me on that Christmas Eve mailing list, s’il vous plait!

  5. Keir Graff Says:

    I’ll forward your email to Craig.

  6. Book Blog – Likely Stories, from Booklist Online » Blog Archive » The Craig Johnson Collection Says:

    [...] Stories, and Johnson said sure! “Firebug” followed (this time a PDF), then “Unbalanced,” then . . . to my shame, I just got too busy last year to post last year’s story, [...]

  7. Peggy Rossell Says:

    Hi, I saw several stories but they are on kindle only. Do you know where I can get copies of these short stories in paperback? Also, how do I order the Christmas special? and how do I get on the mailing list? My elderly husband loves these stories and I try to find the paperbacks as often as I can. He can’t hold the hardbacks very well. thanks for your help. Peggy

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