Review: Cork O'Connor's peaceful family outing turns out to be anything but when a fierce storm descends upon them and a murderous cult stalks them in Northwest Angle, the eleventh mystery in this series by William Kent Krueger. The title is taken from the remote region of Minnesota that is the northernmost in the Continental US, and where most of the action takes place.
Having left the rest of his extended family on their rented houseboat, Cork and is daughter Jenny are exploring one of the islands in the Lake of the Woods along the US/Canada border when a derecho — a weather phenomenon that packs hurricane-force winds — suddenly strikes them. Seeking shelter, they discover a cabin in which a young woman has been brutally tortured and murdered. Once the storm passes, they hear the weak cries of a baby outside, apparently the dead woman's son, now abandoned. But before they can be rescued, a man with a rifle circles the island in a cigarette boat. Cork implicitly understands this is not a friendly visit, and arranges to move Jenny and the boy to a nearby island for their safety. They are eventually reunited with their family, but it's clear the baby boy is important to someone — and that someone won't hesitate to kill to get him back.
Northwest Angle is, simply stated, a superior novel of suspense. The characters, the setting, the danger — real and imagined — are in perfect alignment here. This is not a whodunit in the traditional sense, but a "how is it going to play out"-type of mystery. If one were to find fault here, it might be in the pacing, which at times tends to be overly introspective — in particular, Jenny pondering her relationship with her boyfriend and her potential for being a mother — slowing the plot down a bit here and there. But that's a minor quibble.
The wisdom of Henry Meloux is on display in several exceptionally well-written scenes, and is one of the hallmarks of this series. Consider this passage from near the end, as he speaks to Jenny:
I believe no one belongs to anyone else. [W]e are all dust borrowed for a little while from Grandmother Earth. And even that dust does not belong to her. She has borrowed it from all creation, which is the Great Mystery, which is Kitchimanidoo. And if you ask this old man, I would say that another way to think about Kitchimanidoo is as a great gift. Kitchimanidoo is not about keeping. Nothing belongs to anyone. All of creation is meant as giving.
This fine series just keeps getting better.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of Northwest Angle for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Atria Books (Hardcover), September 2010
ISBN-13: 9781439153840; ISBN-10: 1439153841
Atria Books (Hardcover), August 2014
ISBN-13: 9781476749235; ISBN-10: 147674923X
Location(s) referenced in Northwest Angle: Minnesota
— ♦ —
Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger — A Cork O'Connor Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $24.99
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites