In his fourth case (Purgatory Ridge, 2001, etc.), Cork O’Connor has to solve the mystery of who killed Charlotte Kane. But which Charlotte Kane?
Citizens of Aurora, Minnesota, are alarmed by a sudden rise in the community’s homicide rate. A few years back the trend would have been less unsettling because everyone trusted Sheriff Cork O’Connor, unlike the uniformed Humpty-Dumptys currently in charge of local law and order. But there’s enough cop left in the old campaigner to keep him poised and ready, so when 17-year-old Charlotte Kane, beautiful daughter of reclusive Dr. Fletcher Kane, turns up horribly murdered, Cork answers the call with a modest “someone ought to pay attention.” The rich field of suspects includes young Solemn Winter Moon, “a kind of Ojibwe Romeo” Charlotte had played around with for a while; Father Mal Thorne, a Catholic priest with a checkered past; and the worthy Dr. Kane himself, whose relationship with his daughter has a Krafft-Ebing subtext. But it’s not until a second corpse is also identified as that of Charlotte Kane that Cork fully understands the fine mess he’s expected to untangle.
Local color is a plus as always, but Krueger’s plotting goes from uncertain to heavy-handed, while the unwaveringly virtuous Cork crosses the edge and becomes too good to be interesting.