Vermilion Drift, by William Kent Krueger

I think I've read all of Krueger's mysteries featuring Cork O'Connor. A long series like this gives me a chance to see a character change over time. In each book O'Connor is changed, of course, but over the course of these dozen books the changes are cumulative. After as stint in the Chicago PD, Cork returned to his hometown in Tamarack County, Minnesota, where at the beginning of the series he is the sheriff, although now he is working as a private eye.

One thing that draws me back again and again is the setting of these books, the small towns, Native American reservations, and deep woods of northern Minnesota. Krueger writes knowledgeably of woodcraft, the moods of the lakes, the subtle currents of life in a town where everyone knows each other's business and have known each other all their lives. O'Connor himself is interesting: ordinary, thoughtful, stubborn. He is also one-quarter Ojibwe, a heritage he honors, forcing him often to balance competing loyalties, as he does in this book.

Vermilion One is a long-closed mine that the Department of Energy is considering for storage of nuclear waste. Among those protesting this plan, the most vocal are a group of Ojibwe led by Isaiah Broom, Cork's age, though not one of his friends. Cork has been hired to help with security after those associated with the mine received death threats. In the course of his investigation, he stumbles across long-dead bodies that he thinks might be associated with his one of father's last cases. A drift, by the way, is the term for a horizontal passage off the shaft of a mine.

This is my favorite of Krueger's books. They are all well-plotted and full of interesting characters and tidbits of information about the north country and Ojibwe customs, but this book in particular places Cork in emotional danger rather than physical danger. All the books, of course, have that element, but here it is accentuated as Cork struggles to understand and come to terms with his father's legacy as well as with the Ojibwe values inherited from his mother and nurtured in him by old Henry Meloux. Without the distraction of physical danger, the emotional struggle that underlies his investigation becomes more significant.

And it's a great read, like all Krueger's books, one that I gobbled up in a day, a pj day, one of those days I reward myself with once in a while.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>