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Archive for the tag “author: craig johnson”

Review: Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

hellisemptyStarted: 7-19-14; finished: 8-1-14
Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars
my rating: sweet!
pages: 312
found: my shelf

Hell is Empty is the seventh book of the Walt Longmire series about a wise-cracking sheriff in Wyoming. Walt’s been through some crazy adventures over the years, but none as dangerous and insane as in Hell is Empty. The book starts with him and his deputy, Santiago “Sancho” Saizarbitoria, delivering a group of convicted killers to federal custody. Things escalate fast. The convicts escape, killing most of the officers transporting them, then take off into the wilderness. On the mountain during a blizzard without backup, Walt does the only thing he can—which is usually the stupidest thing he can do—he goes after them. Alone. Did I mention stupid? In fact Walt admits that it’s stupid and that if he doesn’t survive his other deputy, Victoria “Vic” Moretti” will kill him personally.

Walt’s adventure tracking the sociopath, Raynaud Shade, into the Cloud Peak Wilderness tests his physical and mental strength. Blizzard, fire, being shot at—through it all, he manages to keep his patented self-deprecating humor that makes Walt such an enjoyable narrator.

In the book, Sancho is reading Dante’s Inferno which becomes a theme. According to the questions and answers at the end of the book, Johnson wove the events of Inferno into the action of Hell is Empty. He mentions in the answer that he wanted to make sure the novel was enjoyable for those that haven’t read Inferno. Well, he succeeded. Even without knowing the classic, I was glued to the pages of the book, wondering what idiotic predicament Walt would get into next. And his actions were beyond idiotic at times. But that’s part of his charm. His stupidity when it comes to risking his own life is well documented within the series. There were so many times I found myself yelling at the book: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO STUPID, WALT! Then I’d turn the page to find out why.

Johnson writes compelling mysteries and thrillers, but his knowledge of Native American lore and the human condition are what really make the books unique. And the humor. Walt’s penchant for sarcasm and witty commentary had me cracking up even during the most intense parts of the book. The Longmire series is well worth the time invested in reading all ten (I think it is) novels. They will keep you on the edge of your seat and laughing out loud.

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Review: Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson

junkyarddogsStarted: 7/1/14; finished: 7/18/14
Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars
my rating: Heck Yeah!
pages: 306
found: my shelf

Junkyard Dogs is the sixth book in the Walt Longmire series (now a hit TV show on A&E). Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County in Wyoming. He’s got nutty locals to deal with along with Indian troubles, a staff that talks back, a confusing relationship with his deputy Victoria “Vic” Moretti, a crazy ex-sheriff shooting up his room at the old folks home, and apparently a murder every couple of months.

Junkyard Dogs follows Walt as he deals with the eccentric Steward family headed by off-his-rocker Geo who opens the book by being dragged off his roof while cleaning the chimney. With kerosine. And he’s the bright one in the family. It’s not long before he winds up dead and Walt gets thrown into a world of junkyards, illegal drugs, and Neo-Nazis.

Walt handles the case with his usual wise-cracking way, following the clues through a deadly tangle of lies and business deals gone bad. If a multiple murder isn’t bad enough he’s got some issues to sort out with his deputies. Vic is buying a house and wants Walt’s help and Sancho—the newest member of the team—is suffering from PTSD after a near-death experience. Henry is busy planning Cady’s (Walt’s daughter) wedding to Vic’s younger brother Michael and Ruby is as sassy as ever. With a cast of zany characters and murder mystery that leaves Walt only a little chewed up, Junkyard Dogs doesn’t disappoint.

I started reading the Longmire series last year after seeing it pop up on a recommended list at Goodreads. It sounded interesting and I was looking for something grown-up to read. I was hooked by the end of page one. I didn’t start watching the show until season two was over (catching some of it in reruns). By then I was on book five. As much as I love the show which is different, but just as witty and entertaining, the books are so much better. Of course now I can only picture Henry looking like Lou Diamond Phillips. I’m sorry it took me this long to get to book six and that it took me so long to finish (school really cuts into recreational reading time).

Craig Johnson is a master at crafting a good mystery with just the right amount of humor. His grasp of Native American culture and small town living adds depths to his books that I don’t often see (probably because I read a lot of lighthearted teen romance novels). Each book gets better and better.

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