Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Hell and Back by Craig Johnson

First Line: There was the sound of bells and then the silence-- the kind of quiet that only comes with snow, capturing the soundwaves of life and smothering them before they can cry out.
Fort Pratt, Montana has an unhappy history. In 1896, thirty Native American boys died in a boarding school fire there, and it's where Sheriff Walt Longmire wakes up, lying in the middle of the street with his sheepskin coat frozen to the ground.

Why is he in Fort Pratt? Why is he covered in blood? Why is there a bullet missing from his gun? The sweatband in his hat has a name printed on it, but... who's Walt Longmire?

And why does everyone he meets in town seem so familiar?


If you pick up Hell and Back and think you're about to enjoy the usual Walt Longmire mystery, think again. Open this book, and you're in the Twilight Zone. 

I found Hell and Back to be perfect reading for the Halloween season, because as Walt begins to roam the streets of Fort Pratt in order to find answers to all the questions swimming around in his head, I was getting creeped out. This is the type of book that a reviewer can't say much about without giving things away, but I will say this: (1) if you haven't read all the books in the series, you're going to be confused, and (2) if you're not a fan of Native American mysticism, dream sequences, and the fact that Henry Standing Bear and Vic Moretti only make cameo appearances, you might want to give this one a miss.

This is a very different Longmire novel, and I liked exploring this departure. I also admire Johnson for his bravery because something tells me he has a lot of fans who are not going to be happy-- to the point where they get their flaming torches and sharpened pitchforks and head to Ucross, Wyoming. 

What's going to be very interesting is finding out where Craig Johnson takes Walt next. I look forward to finding out.

Hell and Back by Craig Johnson
ISBN: 9780593297285
Viking © 2022
Hardcover, 352 pages
Thriller/Suspense, #18 Walt Longmire mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from The Poisoned Pen.


  1. Well, I do like the Longmire series, Cathy, and I do respect it when authors try new things and go in interesting directions. I'm not sure I'll be happy with this, but sometimes, something very different like this can also be a really excellent story. And it is Craig Johnson. Hmmm...

  2. It's a great opening line and intriguing premise. But I haven't read any of these mysteries yet, and it sounds like I should not start with this one.

    1. There are too many instances when knowledge of characters who've shown up in previous books plays a role in how much you can figure out. Or... perhaps you can figure out what's going on, but your appreciation will be greatly reduced because you don't know who these characters are.

  3. I liked it too! And it will be interesting where Walt and Johnson head next.


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