cover image The River We Remember

The River We Remember

William Kent Krueger. Atria, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-982179-21-2

Bestseller Krueger (the Cork O’Connor series) delivers a patient, character-driven standalone mystery set in the tight-knit community of Jewel, Minn. On Memorial Day 1958, county sheriff Brody Dern arrives at the banks of the Alabaster River to examine the corpse of James Patrick Quinn, Jewel’s wealthiest and most despised resident. Quinn was blasted in the torso with a shotgun and the river’s aggressive channel catfish have wasted no time making a meal of his flesh. While the cause of his death is clear, the circumstances are not: was it an accident, suicide, or murder? Small-town gossip has pinned the blame on “no-good” Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran, but Dern isn’t convinced, and he sets out to find the truth while attempting to soothe an angry and frightened public. Krueger uses the mystery of Quinn’s death to set the tale in motion, but it’s merely a jumping-off point to examine “the cantankerous, laconic, bigoted, gentle-hearted, fearful, sheltered, accepting, [and] broken” citizens of Jewel, including a newspaper publisher, a war widow, a female lawyer, and Quinn’s second wife. Each is painstakingly drawn, but their intricate backstories sometimes slow the pace too much. Though Krueger’s fans will appreciate his empathetic portrait of a small town in distress, readers hoping for a vigorous investigation may be disappointed. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Brown & Miller Literary Assoc. (Sept.)