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Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger
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's review
Jul 21, 2011

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bookshelves: mystery
Read from July 07 to 21, 2011

With precise and atmospheric prose, award-winning author William Kent Krueger "prolongs suspense to the very end" ( Publishers Weekly ) of this impossible-to-put-down thriller when he unleashes spine-tingling mayhem on a tiny logging town and sends hardscrabble former sheriff Cork O'Connor to investigate.... Not far from Aurora, Minnesota (population 3,752), lies an ancient expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe tribe. When an explosion kills the night watchman at wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom's nearby lumber mill, it's obvious where suspicion will fall. Former sheriff Cork O'Connor agrees to help investigate, but he has mixed feelings about the case. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe. For another, his wife, a lawyer, represents the tribe. Meanwhile, near Lindstrom's lakeside home, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick are harboring their own resentment of the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that harmony, both at home and in Aurora, will be on the back burner for some time....

I would argue with this summary in that Purgatory Ridge, along with most of Krueger's stories, is not especially frightening. The Cork O'Connor mysteries are enjoyable to me as masterful works of local color--especially as a Minnesota native--and as compelling fiction about a decent man and his family and fellow townspeople. Every character is so well-drawn that you can't wait to return to Aurora and find out more about Jo, Rose, Jenny, Annie, Wally, Henry and all the others. This one won't stick with me for long, but for the time it lasted, I loved Krueger's easy prose and engaging story. I will definitely be continuing on in the series. Note: I would rank the first Cork O'Connor mystery, Iron Lake, as well above the others in this regard. It is a genuinely gripping mystery with fascinating conflict. I would recommend that as a stand-alone read for anyone looking for a great mystery, even if you don't continue with the series.

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