Friday, August 30, 2013

Review of Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson

No, you haven't lost an entire week, nor have I forgotten what day of the week this is, but instead of my usual Friday's Odds and Ends, I am doing something different today. It started when Yolanda Renee notified me that she had some reviews of my stories over at her blog, Defending The Pen. Of course I had to go see what she had to say about my short stories and one of my mysteries. What a thrill it was to see how much she liked Stalking Season, the second book in the Seasons Series of mysteries.

It was also neat to discover a regular blog hop, The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, started by The Armchair Squid that features book reviews. Not just any old review, but a review of the best book you read in the past month. This feature runs every month on the last Friday, and it is a great way to share the best of what you have been reading.  If you would like to join the blog hop, just click HERE for the link! 

My offering for the day is Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson.

This is book seven in the series that features Wyoming sheriff, Walt Longmire. I first met this character in The Dark Horse  and knew I had found another favorite character who has his own way of finding justice. I was thrilled when "Longmire" started as a series on television. It can be seen every Monday on the A&E cable channel. 

In  Hell is Empty,  Longmire is pitted against the elements as he struggles to capture an escaped convict. Craig Johnson is a master at setting a goal and then throwing obstacle after obstacle in the path of the protagonist, and Walt is battered by the wind and blinding snow in a blizzard and nearly frozen in the sub-zero temperatures. Some of the description was so strong, I wanted to get a warm blanket for myself.

Like a previous story in the Longmire series, Walt is up on the Bighorn Mountains where the lines between reality and delusion fade as his body struggles to survive the challenges of the weather and his relentless pursuit of justice. This is all presented in a narrative that is literary in style and thoroughly engaging. 

Part of the delusion in this story revolves around Virgil White Buffalo, who saves Walt on several occasions, but then it is not clear who was the savior and who was being saved. Virgil is a terrific character, a huge bear of a man, who is book smart and nature smart.

I enjoyed so much about this story, especially the connection to Dante's Inferno and the powerful depiction of the landscape and nature of this part of the west in the winter. The story is frightening in places, but the tension is eased with the trademark Longmire wit.


If you don't join the blog hop, please do leave a comment and let me know what terrific book you read this month. And if you have not already, do that author a favor and post a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

8 comments:

Yolanda Renee said...

I had no idea Longmire the series was originally a book, but I should have. Isn't that were all great things start?
I do enjoy the series, and the different characters. I also love westerns and in an Alaskan Line Camp, where I once spent 6 straight months the only books sold in the PX were westerns - so it was read them or go stark raving mad! LOL
I think I may have just given insight into my madness! :)
Great review, and yet again a new series for my TBR list. I know someday I'll get to all of them!

Laoch of Chicago said...

Nice, thanks for reviewing this.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for stopping by Laoch, and so nice to meet you. I enjoyed your review of the Huxley book, and I love your cat.

Yolanda, have you been following the Longmire series? I have been a fan for a long time because I love the stories and the characters, but also because the author is such a nice guy. I wrote to him after I read The Dark Horse, and he sent the nicest reply.

The Armchair Squid said...

The book sounds like fun - a great sense of both setting and character.

So glad you're joining us, Maryann!

Sally said...

I thoroughly enjoy the Longmire series on the telly - I am now looking for the books as I didn't realise they were based on books either.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sally. If you have enjoyed the television series, you will really like the books.

Trisha F said...

I haven't heard of this book or its author - but it sounds like he writes compelling stuff. I am going to check him out on GoodReads :)

Maryann Miller said...

If you like a good mystery written with a touch of literary style, Trisha, you will like Craig's books. Thanks so much for stopping by.