A respected mystery writer turns his attention to the biggest mystery of all: God.
An award-winning author for his long-running Cork O’ Connor series (Trickster’s Point, 2012, etc.), Krueger aims higher and hits harder with a stand-alone novel that shares much with his other work. The setting is still his native Minnesota, the tension with the region’s Indian population remains palpable and the novel begins with the discovery of a corpse, that of a young boy who was considered a little slow and whose body was found near the train trestle in the woods on the outskirts of town. Was it an accident or something even more sinister? Yet, that opening fatality is something of a red herring (and that initial mystery is never really resolved), as it serves as a prelude to a series of other deaths that shake the world of Frank Drum, the 13-year-old narrator (occasionally from the perspective of his memory of these events, four decades later), his stuttering younger brother and his parents, whose marriage may well not survive these tragedies. One of the novel’s pivotal mysteries concerns the gaps among what Frank experiences (as a participant and an eavesdropper), what he knows and what he thinks he knows. “In a small town, nothing is private,” he realizes. “Word spreads with the incomprehensibility of magic and the speed of plague.” Frank’s father, Nathan, is the town’s pastor, an aspiring lawyer until his military experience in World War II left him shaken and led him to his vocation. His spouse chafes at the role of minister’s wife and doesn’t share his faith, though “the awful grace of God,” as it manifests itself within the novel, would try the faith of the most devout believer. Yet, ultimately, the world of this novel is one of redemptive grace and mercy, as well as unidentified corpses and unexplainable tragedy.
A novel that transforms narrator and reader alike.