A police officer fears that his brother is guilty of murder.
Lance Hansen may be a police officer for the U.S. Forest Service, but his real love is the history of the area where he grew up: Cook County, Minn., on the shores of Lake Superior. Hansen’s job, which is usually limited to ticketing people for illegal fishing or camping, gives him plenty of time to peruse the historical society records he keeps in his house. Like most of his neighbors, he is of Scandinavian descent; in his case, Norwegian. Hansen’s peaceful life comes to an end when he discovers the savagely beaten body of a Norwegian canoeist and his near-catatonic friend. Crack homicide detective Eirik Nyland is sent from Norway to confer with Bob Lecuyer, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation. When they realize that the two men were gay, they decide that the surviving partner is the most likely suspect. Hansen is concerned because his brother, who was close to the Cross River at the time of the murder, almost killed a gay fellow student back when he was in high school. But he has not gone to the police with any testimony nor mentioned his background to anyone. Hansen makes another connection between the recent death and the story of one that took place generations before, when Joe Caribou, an Ojibway Indian, vanished in the same vicinity but may have been murdered by Hansen’s ancestor. Now Hansen imagines that he’s seeing the earlier victim as he travels the area. Hansen can’t bring himself to identify his brother as a suspect, but the guilt of covering up his story is killing him.
The first of Sundstøl’s Minnesota trilogy to be published in the U.S. is literate, lyrically descriptive and mystical. The next can’t come too soon.