Hell and Back by Craig Johnson

This foray into the spirit world will not surprise veteran readers and will please newcomers to the series. Walt deals with the past, with regret and guilt, with spiritual peril but as usual, Henry and Vic are there to back him up. Great stuff!

Hell and Back by Craig Johnson
Hardcover | $28
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Walt Longmire is back, sort of. Just exactly where he is may be unclear. He’s just awoken lying in the road, half frozen in front of an abandoned and derelict Indian boarding school. What follows is perhaps the most paranormally themed of his adventures, but one that any fan of the erstwhile sheriff will find fascinating. Walt’s always had a link to the spirit world and as he wanders around what appears to be Fort Platt, Montana the shades of people with whom he has interacted, often to their sorrow, come and go. In fact, his first encounter with a Fort Platt denizen will chill veteran readers thoroughly.


Alternating between Walt’s journey in the spirit realm and the past is the account of Vic and Henry Standing Bear hunting for him and finding little success. They become increasingly concerned and deeply puzzled while finding traces of him, but no Walt.


As usual, our favorite sheriff doesn’t seem to know what’s good for him, but he does know what’s right. He has always had a sense of justice that overrides his own welfare and he inevitably suffers for it. In spite of the obvious peril and the sinister characters he encounters this reader never lost faith that he would find the correct path, do the proper thing and make things right in the end. There is a subtle comfort in watching Walt Longmire practice his craft, his calling. While there is a boatload of suspense in this one, I never got uncomfortable because I knew Walt would figure it out and find the honorable solution.


Craig Johnson’s books are not only great fun but always have a pertinent message, a greater meaning that gives substance to the narrative. We read for pleasure, for escape and for diversion but knowing that our time is not wasted because we are learning, growing, gaining insight into the world and the people that populate it gives purpose not only to this author’s works but to our lives.