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Hell and Back: Longmire #18    by Craig Johnson order for
Hell and Back
by Craig Johnson
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hell and Back follows Daughter of the Morning Star as the eighteenth in Craig Johnson's outstanding Longmire mystery series. This episode has a strong vein of horror running through it, one that was introduced in previous episodes.

Walt is in some sort of fugue state for most of what happens here. The story opens as he comes to himself (covered in blood) getting up from the snowy street of Fort Pratt, Montana. The town is infamous for the deaths of thirty indigenous boys in an 1896 residential school fire. Somehow, Walt finds himself there before that happens. He doesn't remember who he is but finds the name Walt Longmire in his hat.

Readers accompany him in a series of encounters - with dead folk, some of whom he has known in the past. And he meets the same individuals again and again - repeats with different endings. Gradually, it all starts to make sense as we begin to understand what happened in the school before the fire, and the Taker of Souls plays a terrifying part in it.

Finally, readers join Walt's old friend Henry Standing Bear and feisty undersheriff Vic as they desperately try to find Walt, and worry that they won't do so in time. This eighteenth in the series is in many ways different from its predecessors but just as engrossing.

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