When Fran Martinez Coyne heard that best-selling mystery author Craig Johnson had visited libraries all over Wyoming–even tiny ones in the backs of bars—she had a thought. Why not ask him to come speak in Benicia’s library?

As the Benicia Public Library’s public service manager, Coyne did just that. She sent the famed Wyoming author an e-mail.  Johnson replied a few months later, saying he could come, but he had only one day open. She grabbed it. As a result of her efforts, the New York Times best-selling author will speak 6:30pm, Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Benicia Public Library, 150 East L St.

Johnson is the author of the acclaimed Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery series set in the cowboy country of Wyoming. Johnson himself affects a Western style himself. He is pictured on his website and Facebook page wearing denims and a huge ten-gallon cowboy hat. One might easily mistake him for The Marlboro Man. A resident of the tiny town of  Ucross, Wyoming (population 25), Johnson has written 12 Walt Longmire mystery novels, many which have received widespread critical acclaim. His mystery books are also the basis of the television show Longmire, now on Netflix. “I had never asked an author of that caliber to come to Benicia, but he’s such a down-to-earth person,” said Coyne, who heard him give a talk at the Book Passage in Corte Madera in September. “I gave it a shot. He travels a lot and he’s a very library-oriented and well-read gentlemen. He’s so amazing,” Coyne said.

During the Benicia event, the audience will view an episode of the Longmire show, and then listen to Johnson talk. He will also sign books and Bookshop Benicia will have all his books for sale. Bookshop Benicia owner Christine Mayall said the Longmire books are well written and have a strong sense of place, set in the wide open Wyoming landscape. The main character, Sheriff Longmire, is a true Western loner and just a great character, she added.

Johnson’s books have garnered much praise. His book, Death Without Company, won the Wyoming State Historical Association’s Book of the Year while Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. Meanwhile, A Serpent's Tooth, Any Other Name, Wait for Signs, Hell is Empty and As the Crow Flies have all been New York Times best-sellers, and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. The TV drama, Longmire, features Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Katee Sackoff, and aired on the A&E network for three seasons. After A&E announced it was cancelling the show, Netflix picked it up.

The Benicia Public Library event is open to the public but anyone who would like to go is asked to RSVP at the library’s website at www.BeniciaLibrary.org. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Benicia Public Library.  Coyne said that the Benicia event will be one that Johnson, Longmire and mystery fans won’t soon forget.