Johnson's 'Hell is Empty' is fast-paced

By Steve Larson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 2 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

"HELL IS EMPTY," by Craig Johnson, Viking, $25.95, 312 pages

Borrowing a line from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," Craig Johnson's new book is titled, "Hell Is Empty."

This is the seventh book in Johnson's award-winning series about Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire, who hunts for an escaped murderer through Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.

Alone in his pursuit of a dangerous sociopath, and facing a bitter Wyoming blizzard, Longmire receives occasional guidance and support from his one-time Indian adversary Virgil White Buffalo. Longmire also holds a secret that connects Virgil to the murder victim -- a secret that Longmire refuses to share.

Mixed throughout the story are passages from Dante's "Inferno." Johnson uses his character's understanding of Dante's work to introduce the idea of a modern-day version of Dante's circles of hell.

Readers will soon recognize Longmire is on his own journey through hell -- a journey that is very similar to the one described by Dante.

Through descriptions of Longmire's dreams and Virgil's spiritaul guidance, Johnson creates a story that moves at a rapid pace and pushes the reader forward.

The mix of classic literature and a modern-day Western thriller gives this book a unique feel and takes the reader on a journey he or she will long remember.

While it not one of Johnson's usual murder mystery, readers should enjoy his description of Western life and mentions of Western locations. This book also stands alone for those have not read any of Johnson's previous work.

At times gritty and full of harsh language, this book is written for an older audience that can appreciate Johnson's use of Dante's vision of hell and life after death.

He will be signing copies of his book at The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on July 7 at 7 p.m.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Craig Johnson book signing

When: Thursday, July 7, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Steve Larson is one of the principles at Information Alliance. He spends his free time writing, practicing photography and spending time outdoors.

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