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FOX CREEK by William Kent Krueger: Book Review

At first it appears to be a routine case, and Cork O’Connor is reluctant to accept it.  He is a private investigator and former sheriff but now would rather be working in his family’s restaurant than chasing criminals.

At the diner, a man introduces himself as Lou Morriseau, and he tells the investigator that his wife has left him for another man, a Native American.  Morriseau shows Cork a photo of his wife Dolores, but when Morriseau tells Cork the name of the man she’s having an affair with, the latter is stunned.  It’s Henry Meloux, a respected healer and tribal leader, who is 100 years old.  That’s when Cork realizes something is “off” about the story he has just heard.

Understanding that there’s more to his prospective client than meets the eye, O’Connor agrees to look for Dolores and goes to Henry’s cabin on the reservation of the Iron Lake Ojibwe in the Superior National Forest.  Henry, being Henry, is not surprised to see Cork and knows that he is looking for Dolores.

Dolores has come there to consult with Henry, who tells her she needs to undergo a sweat, a purification ceremony for the body, mind, and spirit, and he has asked Rainy, Cork’s wife, to guide her through it.  When Dolores approaches the cabin after the sweat and Cork tells her that her husband has hired him to find her, she seems pleased but surprised.  Then Cork shows her the photo of his client he took on his cell phone, and Dolores says, “I’ve never seen this man before in my life.”

Cork returns home and tells Marsha Doss, the town’s current sheriff, about the strange case.  He then goes back to the woods to talk to Meloux and Dolores again, trying to shake the sense of unease he feels, but when he enters the cabin there’s no one there.  And the ancient Winchester rifle that should be leaning against a wall is gone, along with the cartridges that Henry keeps in a tin can.

Apparently Cork is not the only person looking for Dolores.  Henry leads Dolores and Rainy deeper into the forest and cautions them to be silent and wait.  Several hours later four men, armed with rifles, approach Henry’s cabin.  Meloux and the two women continue their walk in the woods, Rainy and Dolores being careful to follow the healer’s instructions to step only on stones and thus leave no footprints that their pursuers can follow.

The three spend the night in a bear’s cave, and stepping just outside they can see the campfire of the men pursuing them.  Henry tells Rainy, “They are not afraid to let us know they are coming….But they should be.”

Fox Creek is the 19th book in the Cork O’Connor series.  The novels begin when he was a sheriff and follow his career and his private life over the years.  The recurring characters, including Henry Meloux and Cork’s daughter Jenny and her family, bring warmth and depth to the stories and help balance the violence that always finds Cork.

William Kent Krueger, in addition to this series, has written several stand-alone novels.  He has won two Anthony Awards and an Edgar award.  You can read more about him at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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