Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson is the third book in his Longmire series. Walt accompanies Henry to Philadelphia, where Henry is giving a lecture Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Walt’s reason’s for going aren’t entirely to support Henry and keep him company, Walt’s daughter Cady lives there. The first few pages will make anyone who has ever had to deal with children laugh out loud. Walt is trying to read a fairy tale to a room of children and it’s not going well, “My daddy hides his medicine whenever anybody knocks on our door…He says he doesn’t have a prescription…He smokes his medicine.” (p. 3) Shortly after Walt and Henry arrive in Philadelphia Cady is attacked and barely survives.
A good portion of this book is spent on Walt and Henry’s love for Cady. You can feel their raw pain and confusion about what to do. And though this is a vital part of the story and could have easily be dragged out to the point of losing its potency, Johnson doesn’t do that.
The setting of this series is as important as the people, Wyoming almost feels like another character. This book doesn’t take place in Wyoming though, it takes place in Philadelphia. I wasn’t sure if Johnson would be able to hold onto the magic if he moved Walt to a city. I don’t know why I was worried. Walt’s not some country bumpkin, he’s traveled the world but I still didn’t expect him to do as well as he did. Walt being in city doesn’t change him, he still wears his cowboy hat and boots, so he stands out a bit more than back home.
We also are introduced to Moretti’s family. It’s easy to see where she gets her no nonsense attitude.
Spoiler time: It comes out in the book that Cady is in an abusive relationship and while I hate that she is in one, I love the way Johnson wrote it. Cady is described as a strong, independent, intelligent, and well-loved woman. Normally when we are introduced to a woman in an abusive relationship these women are the exact opposite of Cady, and are so desperate for love that they’ll take whatever they can get even if it leaves bruises. Those women are only one part of victims of domestic violence and women like Cady are often seen as too smart to “get themselves” into a situation like that but that’s not reality. All women from all walks of life are venerable to an abusive relationship. Johnson doesn’t condemn Cady for this though we and by default, Walt, are directed to take our anger for this out on her abuser (which is where it belongs.)
Does it pass the Bechdel test?