cover image Hell Is Empty

Hell Is Empty

Craig Johnson. Viking, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02277-9

At the start of Johnson's stellar seventh novel featuring Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire (after Junkyard Dogs), Walt and his deputy, Santiago "Sancho" Saizarbitoria, are escorting a trio of convicts through the Bighorn Mountains to meet a convoy of federal agents and sheriffs from neighboring counties. They must determine who gets jurisdiction over a newly opened cold case: one of the convicts, Raynaud Shade, recently confessed to burying the body of a Native American boy, a relative of Walt's friend and spiritual guide, Virgil White Buffalo, in the mountains years earlier. When Shade, who's headed for death row in Utah, escapes and takes off into the wilderness with a blizzard threatening, Walt sets off alone on the killer's trail, despite Sancho's warnings that Shade is leading him into a trap. Soon Walt is past the point of no return as the snow and ice accumulate on a journey that evokes Dante's Inferno, the book Sancho is reading on the expedition. (June)