Capsule reviews

A SERPENT’S TOOTH. By Craig Johnson. Viking. 335 pages. $26.95.

This is the ninth book in award-winning Craig Johnson’s bestselling Walt Longmire series; there’s even an A&E series inspired by the books.

Recognizing all these facts, one would expect “A Serpent’s Tooth” to be a terrific story; maybe it is, if you’ve read all the earlier titles. But for new readers, while it isn’t a bad book, it’s not going to encourage anyone to go buy the earlier ones in the series.

This installment finds Wyoming Sheriff Longmire dealing with a stray handyman, a religious cult, a 200-year-old Mormon enforcer who keeps disappearing from jail and several other odds and ends, some of them quite dangerous.

Through all that as well as the romance, the high school homecoming football game, local festivals and more, there’s a good bit of conversational and situational shorthand a new reader isn’t going to get. Johnson’s efforts at eccentricity and humor likewise might appeal to longtime readers but not so much to new ones.

It’s obvious that there’s something worthwhile to this series; it’s just not overly apparent in “A Serpent’s Tooth.”

THE LAST ORIGINAL WIFE. By Dorothea Benton Frank. William Morrow. 348 pages. $26.99.

All you men of a certain age, if your wife is reading “The Last Original Wife,” you might want to take note. Bring home some nice flowers.

All you women of a certain age, after you read this book, you’re not going to let him get away with picking up a bunch of half-wilted stems as if that makes everything OK.

For decades, Leslie Carter let Wesley Carter get away with everything. But after one of her best friends dies and is replaced with a 20-something and another best friend gets divorced after telling her husband to choose: her or the barely-too-old-to-be-his-granddaughter female who’s sexting him, Leslie takes stock.

This is not a novel of revenge or sticking to the man. This is a story of an almost-60 woman who decides this isn’t the life she wants and has the gumption to go looking for what she does want.

Despite a few odd notes, such as the ghost, it’s a terrific book with insight, humor and resolve. After all, it’s a Dorothea Benton Frank book.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.