NORTHWEST ANGLE by William Kent Krueger

Book Quote:

“Later, when it no longer mattered, they learned that the horror that had come from the sky had a name: derecho.”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale  (OCT 2, 2011)

In Northwest Angle, William Kent Krueger’s 11th book in the award winning Cork O’Connor series, Cork and his family vacation in September on a houseboat in Canada, near the Northwest Angle area of Minnesota. Cork had hoped that his family, including his three children, Jenny, Annie and Steve and his sister-in-law Rose and her husband Mel, could finally get some time to relax and enjoy each other. They had all suffered the loss of Cork’s wife two year’s prior and they had not yet found any time to spend together especially since his kids had become older and living on their own.

Unfortunately for Cork and his family, the vacation becomes anything but enjoyable when soon after arrival, Cork and his older daughter Jenny become trapped in a major quick forming and very dangerous derecho storm that shipwrecks them on one of the many islands in the area.

During the storm, Jenny at first becomes separated from her father when he is tossed off their small boat before she is able to steer the boat to a nearby island. She seeks shelter at a small cabin in what appears to be the only building on the small island. She uncovers a baby that has been placed in safety from the storm and shortly thereafter finds the apparent mother of the baby dead. Although at first she thinks the woman was killed by the storm, she soon realizes that the woman was actually murdered and, given how hungry the baby is, she realizes the baby was more likely hidden from the murderer than from the storm. Fortunately, soon thereafter, she finds her father but they both become concerned when they see a man with a gun that they fear may be the killer of the baby’s mother.

Cork and Jenny manage to avoid the man with the gun and eventually reunite with the rest of their family and go to Northwest Angle to report the murder of the woman in the cabin. There they meet with people eager to help especially against who they believe is the murderer Noah Smalldog, the brother of the murdered girl, Lily Smalldog. However, the longer Cork and the others stay in the area, the more confused they become about who is really helping and what is really going on.

As usual for a William Kent Krueger book, I really enjoyed this book that starts and ends as a thriller and is more of a traditional mystery in the middle. He does a great job in presenting believable and likeable main characters while providing an interesting and realistic story. To me, the mix of the thriller and mystery was interesting but led to some dragging in the middle of the book, especially after such a quick reading beginning during the storm and finding of the baby. Nonetheless, this is a very enjoyable and well recommended book that adds to an already great series.

Although it would be helpful to have read prior books in the series to understand all of the back story and relationships among the various characters it is not necessary. Krueger does a good job in the beginning in providing the key back story without boring his faithful readers (some of which are like me and appreciate the reminders anyway).

I was not very familiar with William Kent Krueger until I went to Bouchercon in 2008 where I found he had a significant presence and following. He was also a very interesting and entertaining speaker so I picked up a copy of his Anthony-nominated Thunder Bay while there and later picked up a couple of his prior books so as to start at the beginning of the series. I finally started reading the series in January, 2010 starting with Iron Lake, the first book in the series, which became one of my favorites in 2010. I’ve now read the first six and last two and I’m looking forward to going to back to read the three I’ve missed.

As soon as I started reading these books, they reminded me of the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton. Both books take place in the United States just below the Canadian border, with Hamilton’s books based in Michigan and Krueger’s books in Minnesota. Both have a strong American Indian influence to their stories with significant Indian characters and reservations key to the story. Both of the main characters were policeman in major cities prior to moving to their current more remote locations, with Cork having spent a short time in Chicago and Alex in Detroit. Of course, several key differences exist, the most significant of which is the key part of family that is important to Cork as he is married with children in most of the books while Alex has no immediate family. Nonetheless, if you’ve enjoyed only one of these writes, I know you’ll like the other.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 92 readers
PUBLISHER: Atria Books; First Edition (August 30, 2011)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
AUTHOR WEBSITE: William Kent Krueger
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:


Cork O’Connor Series:

October 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Family Matters, Literary, PEN/Hemingway Winner, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper

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