Review: When the body of a teenaged girl washes ashore of a small island in Lake Superior and is identified as one of two girls who ran away a year earlier, Cork O'Connor is called in to help find the other, in Windigo Island, the fourteenth mystery in this series by William Kent Krueger.
Mariah Arceneaux wasn't a troubled youth, but a deeply unhappy one, someone who bought into the promise of Raven Duvall that she could lead a better life, one as a model in the big city. Unfortunately, as Cork soon discovers, that was simply a euphemism for being a prostitute. He traces the girls to a the owner of a private yacht, where one of the men aboard admits that things got out of hand, and one of the girls jumped overboard … the one that was eventually found dead on Windigo Island. But of the other, he claims no knowledge. Cork, who had promised Mariah's mother that he would find her, presses on, and learns that the man that keeps the young girls in line is also known as Windigo, a mythical beast that feeds on human flesh. To locate Mariah, Cork must first locate Windigo … and doing so will test everything he both knows of and believes in.
Windigo Island is disappointing on several levels, not necessarily as a stand-alone mystery but when compared to the generally excellent books in this series that preceded it. The biggest problem is that much of the narrative is essentially turned over to Cork's daughter Jenny, who is really a most annoying character. She insists — demands — on accompanying her father because of a vision she experienced — "You save her" — and basically weighs him down the entire way. When she's not being clumsy or inarticulate, she's making trouble for those that can make a difference in the outcome. Of course she, in the end, saves the day as it were, which is eye-rolling at best. What's also missing here is the sense of place; this story — which, to be sure is far from memorable, fairly routine and predictable in and of itself — could have taken place anywhere in the country. Where is the majesty of northern Minnesota and the Lake Superior region? The bright spot is Henry Meloux, Cork's old and wise friend, who keeps Cork grounded, but even he is not able to overcome the many weak points here. This is definitely not one of the author's better efforts, and one can only hope Windigo Island is merely an unfortunate — and one-time — anomaly in an otherwise outstanding series.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided an eARC of Windigo Island for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Atria Books (Hardcover), August 2011
ISBN-13: 9781439153956; ISBN-10: 1439153957
Location(s) referenced in Windigo Island: Minnesota, North Dakota
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Windigo Island by William Kent Krueger — A Cork O'Connor Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 2014
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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