Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hell is Empty

by Craig Johnson
309 pgs  (Longmire series #7)

Craig Johnson borrowed from both Shakespeare and Dante for his seventh book featuring Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire. The book's title comes from the famous line in The Tempest: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." It's a fantastic line, and a very appropriate title for Johnson's story.

The story itself was heavily influenced by Dante's Inferno. In the poem, Dante is guided by the poet Virgil through the nine circles of hell. In Johnson's story, Longmire is guided by the giant Indian Virgil White Buffalo as he travels through his own various levels of hell.

It's early spring and Walt is assisting with a prisoner transport. Raynoud Shade is a Canadian Indian convicted of killing a young boy who is on his way to prison for the rest of his life. Shade is also a psychotic schizophrenic who sees visions and hears voices.

While traveling through the Bighorn Mountains, a fierce storm arrives and Shade manages to escape. Now it's up to Walt to track him down before Shade decides to kill again. But Walt's primary concern quickly becomes his own survival, as the mountains and the storm threaten to take his life, or at a minimum, his sanity.

I've heard Craig Johnson speak in person a couple of times over the past few years and it's very apparent that regardless of the fact that he lives in rural Wyoming, in a town with a population in the double digits, that he's a highly-intelligent and well-read man. So the fact that he used classical literature as the inspiration for his story came as no surprise. What was a bit of a pleasant surprise though was the fact that seven books into his series, the books continue to get better and better.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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