28 September 2009

BWCA adventure

While at Garrison Keillor's bookstore in St. Paul, I picked up what I thought was William Kent Krueger's first mystery novel, Boundary Waters. It turns out this book was his second. Not that it really matters.

This murderous mystery was much like the one I read earlier. That one may have been written later, but the similarities are great. I kept wondering if I read Boundary Waters before.

This was one of those books that kept me reading. I read most of it during one lazy Saturday at Sidetrack. Krueger tells adventure stories very well. In this book, I think there are five of them, one right after another. Just about the time I was thinking, "This is nearly the end of the story, what's going to happen in the last half of the book?" Krueger pulled an unexpected out of his hat and another dangerous adventure began. And most of them are not implausible.

(There are several implausible story elements in this book. They'd power the Infinite Improbability drive on the Heart of Gold quite a way toward the restaurant at the end of the universe. But the action was compelling enough to keep me reading right through the improbables.)

Imperfect hero Cork O'Connor, former sheriff and hamburger stand operator, is once again at the center of the stories. And he is the action hero who saves the day a couple times and almost saves the day at the very end. (The saving of the day at the end is one of those improbables that could send the Golden Spaceship to the restaurant at the end of the universe.)

The action was so continuous and the suspense so well maintained, that I read right through things like that. It was only on some reflection that I thought, "Huh?"

Native Americans, wolves, bears, really evil people, greed, political ambition, double crosses, and an organized crime boss are parts of the book. So are nearly a dozen murders (nearly all of which are committed in a small, far-northern Minnesota county seat). That's part of the trouble with Krueger's books: How do you get your small town "restauranteur" hero invloved in a series of once-in-a-century crimes? (Even in New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas, the events in this book would be less than once a decade situations.) It's like some small town mayor from Alaska got elected governor and then was chosen to be a vice presidential candidate. Like that could ever happen. Suspend belief a lot!

I had a good time reading this book. Thankfully, I don't live in a community where such inhumanity is commonplace. But, I'm not sure I really liked the book. Does that make sense?

If you read Boundary Waters or another of Krueger's books, write and let this little bit of the world know what you think.

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