Conflicted protagonist Cork O’Connor works a case that has disturbing connections to his own family, as well as his past, in Krueger’s latest (Heaven’s Keep, 2009, etc.).
Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor, former sheriff of fictional Tamarack County, Minn., works as a private investigator. His wife, Jo, has died, and his two grown daughters are making their lives elsewhere. His young teenage son is away for the long, hot summer, and Cork has been asked to find mine owner and millionaire Max Cavanaugh’s missing sister, Lauren. Lauren is beautiful and blond and has been known to flit from place to place, but she finally ended up in Cork’s neck of the woods, where she opened a center for the arts. Now Max says she’s vanished and he thinks her disappearance is somehow different this time. Max’s unease is bolstered by the animosity generated by a government team surveying one of the mines as a possible repository for nuclear waste. As protesters picket the mine, many involved in the survey are targeted with ominous warning notes printed in a bloody-looking font; in the meantime, Cork suffers from recurring nightmares in which he tries to save his now-dead father, but instead ends up pushing dad to his death. As Cork seeks help deciphering his dream with a longtime family friend, he makes a terrible and unanticipated discovery in a drift, or vertical passage, in the Vermilion One Mine. The discovery opens the door to a new investigation and stirs up powerful demons from Cork’s past, including memories he would much rather forget. As always, Krueger’s writing couples the best of literary and commercial fiction, with intelligent, well-defined characters populating the story. Although the book contains violence, the author never makes it extraneous or graphic. He is one of those rare writers who manage to keep the suspense alive until the final page.
Krueger fans will find a feast in between these covers, and for those who have yet to sample his fine and evocative writing, the book offers a complex yet completely believable plot, all tied up in words sharpened by one of the modern masters of the craft.