Winner of the prestigious Loft-McKnight Fiction Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, William Kent Krueger has established himself as a startlingly original voice in thriller fiction. With Purgatory Ridge he cements his standing as a suspense writer of the highest caliber.
Not far from the small town of Aurora (population 3,752) lies an ancient two-hundred-acre expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe and known to them as Minishoomisag (Our Grandfathers).
Wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom does not have a reputation as a sensitive environmentalist, and some members of the Anishinaabe tribe are concerned about the proximity of the trees to his lumber mill. So when an explosion at the mill results in the death of a night watchman, it's obvious whom suspicion will fall upon.
Cork O'Connor, in the throes of straightening out his life and repairing his marriage, is asked by his successor as sheriff to help with the investigation. His sense of community obliges him to accept, but Cork has distinctly mixed feelings about the case. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe himself. For another, his lawyer wife, Jo, represents the tribe.
Meanwhile, in a secluded house that overlooks the lakeside home of the Lindstrom family, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick also seem to be harboring some resentment of their own against the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that harmony, both at home and in the town, will be on the back burner for some time.
William Kent Krueger's precise and atmospheric prose, combined with his keen eye for the telling details of small-town life and his vivid sense of the land and seascapes of northern Minnesota, will impress and delight both his old fans and those discovering him for the first time.
Krueger's page-turner revisits Cork O'Connor, the part-Irish, part-Anishinaabe/Ojibwe ex-sheriff of Aurora, Minn., a tiny lumber town on the edge of the Superior National Forest, whose exploits were depicted in Boundary Waters. This narrative opens with a bang, as Karl Lindstrom's lumber mill explodes in the early morning hours, killing Ojibwe elder Charlie Warren. The local Native Americans are up in arms over Lindstrom's plan to cut down Our Grandfathers, a grove of old-growth white pines sacred to tribal lore. Outside conservationists have also descended on the town, eager to save the 300-year-old trees. When a person identifying himself as the Eco-Warrior, soldier of the Army of the Earth, claims responsibility for the bombing, the Native Americans are suspected of collusion as Cork's wife, Jo, attorney for the tribe, protests their innocence. Cork had lost his job as sheriff two years before, largely because of inflammatory editorials by Helm Hanover, publisher of the local newspaper, but he cannot stay uninvolved in this case. The quest to identify the Eco-Warrior bomber ultimately focuses on a young outsider, Brent Hamilton, and his zealous mother, who was crippled in a similar bombing. But the number of suspects widens to include Hanover, rumored to be the commander of the secret militant Minnesota Civilian Brigade, and John LePere, lone survivor of the Alfred M. Teasdale, a freighter that sank on Lake Superior six years earlier, drowning his brother, whose body has never been found. Two kidnappings occur. Karl Lindstrom's wife, Grace Fitzgerald, novelist and daughter of the man who owned the freighter, is abducted, and Cork's wife and six-year-old son are also taken as the Eco-Warrior demands $2 million for their safe return. The plot comes full circle as credibly flawed central characters find resolution. Despite some histrionic plot devices, Krueger prolongs suspense to the very end.