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by William Kent Krueger
Atria, August 2005
352 pages
ISBN: 0743445880

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Cork O'Connor, part Objibwe, is back as sheriff of Tamarack County, Minnesota. The previous, elected sheriff had been forced out by scandal and Cork was invited to fill out his term. He accepted gladly because it is a job he loves.

His practice is to go out with his deputies on as many calls to the reservation as he can, since the people there will talk more freely to him, so when a phone call from one of the residents comes in, he hurries out with one of his deputies.

They get to the Tibodeaus' cabin on the rez and it is suspiciously silent. O'Connor and Deputy Marsha Dross get out of the car to look around. They find both dogs dead and no sign of Eli or Lucy. Then, from the hillside, a shot is heard and Dross falls to the ground, shot.

Cork's attorney wife Jo is representing the Anishinaabeg in their negotiations with a Chicago figure, Eddie Jacoby, who works for a company that manages casinos in the midwest. Then Eddie is found dead, mutilated. His brother Ben comes to town to see Jo. It turns out that Ben was Jo's college sweetheart, who abruptly left her and married another. Ben still carries a torch for Jo.

Things start to heat up, with the stalker after Cork, and Jo running to her sister in Chicago, both to keep the children safe and to try to avoid Ben, while Cork remains at home to do his job.

Krueger dearly loves the Minnesota north and this love comes through clearly in his writing. The juxtaposition of beautiful peaceful scenery and the violence of men is clearly drawn.

If I have a quibble with this book, it is something that is not limited to MERCY FALLS. A practice has grown up at crime fiction conventions to auction off the use of one's name in a book. The proceeds go to a named charity and you have the pleasure of seeing your name in print. In most cases, the name is used for a minor character and jars only momentarily. However, in this book, it is used for a major character. The person in question is very generous and usually bids lots of money but the constant repetition of the whole name does take one out of the story constantly. Perhaps the auctions should be changed so that the book is dedicated to the donor instead of selling a character name.

This is not a negative comment about this book, however, it is just my opinion about a convention that Krueger decided to use. The book is perhaps the best he has written, integrating venue, character and story into a cohesive, extremely readable whole.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, August 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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