Johnson's book centers around the murder of a young man in a small town. A crime difficult to solve because no one is sorry to see the victim dead, including Sherrif Longmire. Behind the narrative is a larger question of what is left behind when a part of you is killed. The individuals and also the groups in this story have all been suffered brutal losses in different ways at different times. What does that do to the compassion and ethics of a person, or town, or tribe? The story doesn't answer the question -- but, more satisfyingly, it sets it in motion in the minds of its characters who must reconsider themselves and one another in the light of a new tragedy.