Sunday, June 20, 2010
"Monuments are the grappling-irons that bind one generation to another." Joseph Jaubert
The setting is Aurora, Minnesota, during the winter. There are as many people who travel by skis and snowmobiles as by cars.
Judge Robert Parrent is found dead, a possible suicide. The newspaper delivery boy, Paul LeBeau, is missing. All of Paul's deliveries were made up to the Judge's home.
Cork O'Connor, once a cop in Chicago, and former sheriff, feels compelled to take action when there is a need to solve a crime.
Cork is undergoing a time of turmoil, himself. His wife, Jo, wants a divorce and he is separated from his three children. Painful indeed, just as the Christmas season is upon him. He takes emotional refuge with Molly Nurmi, a kindly waitress at the local coffee shop.
One winter day, he gives a ride to an old Indian wise man, Henry Meloux, who tells him that the Windigo has called Harlan Lytton's name. This is an Indian sign of a "...giant ogre with the heart of ice." It is a prediction of imminent death. When Cork goes to Harlan's home to warn him, he's attacked by Harlan's dog and is forced to kill it. Not long after, Lytton is found dead and it is learned that he has been spying on the residents and more.
Cork doesn't believe that the Judge committed suicide. He thinks that the Judge may have had something that the killer wanted. Cork also learns things about his own family that shake his well being.
Despite personal issues, Cork continues the investigation while pondering his own faith and his relationship with his children.
This is a fine debut novel that won the Anthony and Barry Awards for best first novel. The author can certainly write a captivating story full of memorable characters, set in the frozen countryside of Minnesota. With his use of Indian folk lore, he places himself as a successor to the legendary Tony Hillerman.