NORTHWEST ANGLE by William Kent Krueger

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.

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

HELL IS EMPTY by Craig Johnson

William Walk Sacred describes the Native American vision quest experience as a time when, “You are presenting yourself before the Great Spirit and saying, ‘Here I am. I am pitiful. I am naked.” “You’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.

June 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Reading Guide, Sleuths Series, US Frontier West, Wild West

EXTRA INDIANS by Eric Gansworth

EXTRA INDIANS, the latest tour de force from Eric Gansworth, is a rollicking, engrossing, and big-hearted novel that defies expectations at every hair-raising turn.

Tommy Jack McMorsey – a West Texas flatlands native, Vietnam vet, flawed husband and father, and long haul driver – travels from Texas to northern Minnesota annually to watch the meteor showers and wish upon the stars. But on one cold night, he chances upon a deluded Japanese tourist who is searching for the buried ransom money from the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo. When she wanders off and dies of exposure, McMorsey finds himself thrust into the spotlight of an intrusive media campaign, dredging up ghosts from his past.

January 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, Wild West


Every now and then, a “stealth book” comes along – one that surprises you, captures you in its grip, and doesn’t let go until you turn the last page. THE GHOST OF MILAGRO CREEK is such a book.


I expected this book to be something else entirely – a light mystery about two blood brothers who vied for the same gringo girl in the Cain-and-Abel tradition. In reality, the book is lyrical, poignant, and from time to time, electrifying. It depicts the life of the Taos barrio colorfully and – in my mind – authentically.

July 7, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Reading Guide, US Southwest, Wild West, y Award Winning Author

WAR DANCES by Sherman Alexie

WAR DANCES, Sherman Alexie’s collage of short stories and narrative and prose poems, covers familiar Alexie territory: the melancholy comedy of ordinary lives, where irony and coincidence strike like rattlesnakes, swiftly and unexpectedly. His characters, often but not always of Native American descent, grapple with a changing culture and their place in it. They journey toward the ideal but end up, more or less, in a place no better than where they began. And although the sons pay for the sins of their fathers, the fathers suffer, too. Redemption comes when least expected, and the best intentions sour. Alexie is both cynic and comedian, toying with his characters and their impossible circumstances, rarely willing to bestow upon them the good fortune of an unequivocal happy ending

February 25, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Pen Faulkner, Short Stories, Wild West, y Award Winning Author


The world-building in this speculative fiction novel set on Earth is staggering. Over half the book takes place in Guatemala and Central Mexico at the height of the Mayan empire. The detail D’Amato puts into the pageantry, customs, sights, sounds, smells and tastes truly transport the reader to a seemingly alien world. The story is told by a Mayan descendent with his share of neuroses, gifts and curses. The first person, conversational narration was fresh and often humorous.

December 11, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Latin America, Latin American/Caribbean, Mexico, Scifi, Speculative (Beyond Reality)