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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Longmire lives: Craig Johnson launches series’ 20th installment in Spokane with friend and actor A Martinez

Author Craig Johnson has made the journey to the Lilac City from his Wyoming ranch before.

With each new installment of his New York Times bestselling western mystery series Longmire, Johnson takes the stage at The Spokesman-Review Northwest Passages book club.

But this time, Johnson debuted “First Frost,” and the event differed from his previous visits. Tuesday, he took the stage at Gonzaga University with a friend: A Martinez, who played Jacob Nighthorse in the popular “Longmire” television series.

The book and TV series center on Walt Longmire, a sheriff in Wyoming who investigates an array of gripping cases.

“It was very easy for us to be friends because A reads,” Johnson said with a chuckle. “A lot.”

Johnson said the title comes from the hardships the main characters, Longmire and Henry Standing Bear, experience.

“I mean, this is the first frost in these two characters’ lives,” he said. “Because they’ve been thinking they’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof.”

At the event, Martinez shared his first experience reading an early edition of the new book. “First Frost” goes back to the summer of 1964, to when a young Longmire and Standing Bear recently graduated from college.

They were to enlist to serve in the Vietnam War after first spending time in California.

There, the two save strangers who are caught in the surf, he said.

“The cops say, ‘You don’t know them. Why would you do that?’ ” Martinez said. “Walt says, ‘Well, because it’s the right thing to do.’ ”

Martinez, who was reading the passage in public, said he shut the book because of an audible gasp he omitted at the remark.

“That’s a treasure in my life,” he said. “I live for catharsis, and that was delivered.”

The TV series debuted in 2012 and became the highest-rated original drama series on A&E, where it ran for three seasons, according to Spokesman-Review reports. After A&E canceled “Longmire,” Netflix picked up the series for three more seasons. It concluded in 2017.

Besides “Longmire,” Martinez starred in television soap opera “Santa Barbara,” which ran in the 1980s and early ’90s. He also played a supporting role in the 1972 John Wayne movie, “The Cowboys.”

Martinez has religiously read the Longmire novels.

“It’s really amazing to me how many people still ask, ‘There are books?’ ” he said. “To be able to hold on to it, and I think like a lot of people since the show ended, for me it’s kind of it’s a bit of a life preserver – the characters are still alive in the books.”