cover image THE DEVIL'S BED


William Kent Krueger, . . Atria, $24 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-4584-9

Readers of Krueger's Cork O'Connor mystery series (Iron Lake; Boundary Waters; etc.) will have to postpone the pleasures of the much-anticipated fourth volume, but the wait will be well spent with this fast-paced stand-alone political thriller. President Clay Dixon, campaigning for reelection, is falling behind in the polls. Worse, the popular first lady, Kate Jorgenson Dixon, disappointed by Clay's lost idealism, resolves to abandon their marriage—a disaster for his faltering campaign, not to mention his emotional stability. Kate flies back to her native rural Minnesota when she hears that her father, ex-senator Tom Jorgenson, has suffered a farming accident that has nearly killed him. The police declare it an unfortunate mishap, but it isn't—an escaped mental patient has initiated a long-planned vendetta that includes not only Tom but Kate as well. Chilling, mesmerizing lunatic David "Nightmare" Moses, who was once in love with Kate, steals the page each time he makes an appearance. Secret Service agent Bo Thorsen, who protects the first lady, contends with Moses as well as with backstabbing colleagues, scheming Washington politicians and minions of a sinister, secret government agency that appears to have some tie to Moses. Occasional clunky writing and an over-the-top patriotic coda mar the novel, but this will hardly matter to most readers. Nonstop action, abundant romantic complications and a wealth of mayhem keep Krueger's plot speeding toward its suspenseful, blood-soaked climax. (Feb.)