cover image Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters

William Kent Krueger. Atria Books, $23 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-671-01698-2

Krueger follows up his sure-handed debut novel, Iron Lake (1998), with an equally effective second thriller featuring former Chicago cop, now former local sheriff Cork O'Connor and his adventures in the warm-spirited little town of Aurora, Minn., and the harsh wilderness that surrounds it. The durable O'Connor, who used to watch over the territory as sheriff until he was voted out of office in a personal and professional meltdown, now tends a burger stand but still has a reputation as a go-to guy when trouble arises. It does so in the form of William Raye, an aging country singer who's looking for his daughter, Shiloh, a famous rock musician who disappeared several months earlier into the Boundary Waters, the thickly forested, lake-dotted area to the north. O'Connor isn't looking for work, but he takes the case because Shiloh is an Aurora native, and O'Connor hopes someone would do the same for him if any of his three kids were lost. Before he can even head into the woods, FBI agents show up, as well as an old casino gangster from Las Vegas. They, too, all want Shiloh found, but none will say exactly why. O'Connor, accompanied by two agents plus Raye, and a father and son from the local Anishinaabe tribe, packs up and heads out by canoe in what becomes a gritty, bloody adventure of considerable emotional depth. The action is deftly interspersed with glimpses of the terror Shiloh is enduring in the wilderness--at the hands of those who would bury an old crime--and with tense scenes back in Aurora, where O'Connor's family and other townsfolk worry about the operation's success. Krueger's writing, strong and bold yet with the mature mark of restraint, pulls this exciting search-and-rescue mission through with a hard yank. Author tour. (May)