Crown, July 2015
Foul-mouthed Freedom Oliver is a bartender in Oregon, shielded by Witness Protection. The reason is that 20 years before she was arrested for murdering her husband and held for two years, before the evidence she planted resulted in the arrest and conviction of her brother-in-law. But upon her arrest she gave up her two children for adoption, fearing life imprisonment. Incidentally neither she nor he had actually fired the gun.
The children were placed in the home of a religious zealot in Kentucky, the head of a cult. Now, 20 years later, the brother-in-law is freed and is seeking revenge. Meanwhile, her daughter goes missing and Freedom leaves to find the child, who may have been kidnapped. Along the way she meets her son, now a successful attorney.
This is a debut novel, and for all its interesting plot, it also suffers from superfluous and foul language and other excessive attributes of an unpolished author, especially the novel’s conclusion, which can only be described as a neophyte’s bright idea. Nevertheless, despite all of that, the time it took to read the story was worthwhile because it is more than interesting.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, July 2016.
A Cork O’Connor Mystery #15
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books, September 2016
Of the fifteen volumes in the excellent Cork O’Connor series, this latest is one of the best. It finds Cork in the midst of at least two conspiracies during which he probably learns more about himself than he has in a long time. It is November, a month in which he has undergone several tragedies, including the death of his wife. In a depressed mood, his daughter’s wedding looms in a couple of weeks.
The Cork is approached by the grandchildren of a boyhood friend he has not seen in decades, who has gone missing in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to try to find the man despite a two-week search-and-rescue operation having failed and efforts called off. Instead of the couple of days by which Cork promised his daughter to return, he and the accompanying granddaughter go missing as well. And this leads to some of the best writing and descriptions in a series that abounds in such efforts as Cork and the woman are captured and with their captors trudge and canoe northward to Canada.
Meanwhile back home Cork’s family and friends realize something has gone wrong and they fly to Raspberry Lake looking for him. With winter setting in, it becomes a race not only for survival for the group that captured Cork, but also for his rescuers. As is usual, the author gives the reader deep insight not only into Ojibwe culture but the Northwoods environment in which the story takes place.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2016.