When mayhem descends on a tiny logging town, former sheriff Cork O’Connor is called upon to investigate a murder in this “wonderful page-turner” (The Denver Post) that “prolongs suspense to the very end” (Publishers Weekly) by Edgar Award-winning author William Kent Krueger.
Not far from Aurora, Minnesota (population 3,752), lies an ancient expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe tribe. When an explosion kills the night watchman at wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom’s nearby lumber mill, it’s obvious where suspicion will fall. Former sheriff Cork O’Connor agrees to help investigate, but he has mixed feelings about the case. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe. For another, his wife, a lawyer, represents the tribe.
Meanwhile, near Lindstrom’s lakeside home, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick are harboring their own resentment of the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that danger, both at home and in Aurora, lurks around every corner…
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.