Friday, June 17, 2011

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

book cover

Hell is Empty
by Craig Johnson

ISBN-13: 9780670022779
Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Viking
Released: June 6, 2011

Source: Unrequested review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

Sheriff Walt Longmire has been maintaining order in Wyoming's Absaroka County for more than thirty years. When Raynaud Shade, an adopted Crow Indian, confesses to murdering a boy ten years ago and burying him deep within the Big Horn Mountains, the FBI asks Walt to transport him and several other dangerous criminals to where the boy is buried. Once there, the FBI agents explain that the victim's name is White Buffalo--the nephew of a man Walt knows.

When the criminals escape into the remote mountains during a horrible snowstorm, Walt sets out after them alone. He's determined to follow them to the end of Dante's icy Hell if he has to.

My Review:
Hell is Empty is a suspense/thriller about a sheriff tracking down a bunch of very bad criminals--including a serial murderer--during a horrible blizzard on an isolated mountain all by himself. There was a also paranormal (ghost/spirit) element. The draw of the story was mainly the suspense created by the physical danger, which it did well.

This was the seventh book in the series. This novel referred briefly to a couple of events in previous novels, so you might wish to read them first. Besides, you probably won't care what happens to Walt unless you've already formed a bond with him in the previous novels.

If you're a fan of Dante's Inferno--or have even read it--then you might get more out of this than I did. Since I haven't read Inferno, I felt like I was missing some subtle symbolism he was trying to create.

The characters were interesting though not very complex. I understand that the bad guys had hostages, that Walt knew it was foolish to go after the bad guys alone, and that later Walt was so tired that he was going on autopilot. However, I was a bit exasperated that he kept turning down help and refused to wait for backup when it made sense to do so.

There wasn't much job or setting development beyond prisoner transport procedures, cool guns, and the effects of a bad blizzard and a firestorm.

There were no sex scenes. There was some explicit bad language (though less than the previous novel, Junkyard Dogs). Overall, if the whole chase-scene thing sounds interesting to you, then you might like it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?"

I tried to focus on one of my favorite skies--the silver-dollar one with the peach-colored banding that seriates into a paler frosty blue the old-timers said was an omen of bad times ahead--as I stuffed a third of a bacon cheeseburger into Marcel Popp's mouth in an attempt to silence the most recent of his promises that he was, indeed, going to kill me.

Read more from chapter one using Google Preview.


Elizabeth said...


THREE blogs? You must be super busy. :)

Just stopping by to have a look around.


Genre Reviewer said...

Hi, Elizabeth.

Thank you. Welcome to my blogs! Yup, three blogs do keep me super busy. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time. ;) I'm still loving it, though!