William Walk Sacred describes the Native American vision quest experience as a time when, “You are presenting yourself before the Great Spirit and saying, â€˜Here I am. I am pitiful. I am naked.” “Youâ€™re down to the nitty gritty of who you are.” He adds, “You cannot go off the path at that point because you are now owned by the spirits. They watch you continuously. There is no hiding.” This quest to gain spiritual insights and to, in effect, travel to God, can be compared to the allegorical journey taken in Dante’s The Divine Comedy in which a soul moves through hell, purgatory, and heaven. Of course, hell (Inferno) is the most gripping. The ninth circle of Dante’s hell holds those guilty of treachery in an icy prison, with Satan encased waist-high in the center. How fitting then that Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, Wyoming should find himself in a mountain snow storm with a beat-up copy of Dante’s Inferno, battling the elements, violent men, his own limits of endurance, and mysteries of the mind and spirit — in effect, undergoing his own involuntary vision quest.
C. J. Box’s COLD WIND is set in a part of Wyoming that is beautifully scenic and, in some ways, untamed. When an enemy threatens one of Box’s characters, the prospective victim does not automatically dial 911. He is more likely to take matters into his own hands. The hero, Joe Pickett, is a game warden and devoted family man who values harmony over conflict. Much to Joe’s displeasure, he is caught up in a web of deceit and violence when his wife’s latest stepfather, “multi-millionaire developer and media mogul, Earl Alden,” is shot dead and found hanging from one of his own windmill turbines. Joe’s mother-in-law, Missy Alden is charged with the crime, and although he has no jurisdiction, Joe undertakes his own unofficial investigation out of obligation to his wife and daughters.
In Tess Gerritsen’s Ice Cold, forty-two year old medical examiner Maura Isles is heartbroken. She is in a relationship with Daniel Brophy, a Catholic priest. However, their year-long affair has not brought either of them much happiness. Daniel is reluctant to give up his calling, and Maura is frustrated with his inability to make up his mind. After spending the night together, they part. Maura flies from Boston to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to attend a medical conference. There, she meets a former classmate, pathologist Doug Comley, who is divorced and has a thirteen year-old-daughter, Grace. He asks Maura to accompany him and his friends on a trip to a cross-country ski lodge. She agrees, but soon regrets her decision.