Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Boundary Waters: William Kent Krueger

Boundary Waters is the 2nd book in the Cork O'Connor series. I bought this book as soon as I finished Iron Lake, the first book in the series. Not only did I want to know more about what happens with Cork O'Connor, but the writing was very good. And I was not disappointed. This book was different and just as good.

This is the description at the author's web site:
The Quetico-Superior Wilderness: more than two million acres of forest, white-water rapids, and uncharted islands on the Canadian/American border. Somewhere in the heart of this unforgiving territory, a young woman named Shiloh—a country-western singer at the height of her fame—has disappeared.
Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota, to hire Cork O’Connor to find his daughter. Cork joins a search party that includes an ex-con, two FBI agents, and a ten-year-old boy. Others are on Shiloh’s trail as well—men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.

This book is a thriller with excellent pacing, more like an adventure story than a mystery. Of course there is the mystery of who is trying to find Shiloh and kill her, and which of the people seeking her are truly trying to help. There are multiple groups interested in finding her.

I praised the first book for the characterizations, and that is true in this book also, although the most fully defined characters are Cork and his family members. While Cork is on the trail, his family is back at home in this one, but is still featured. Another great character is the young Anishinaabe boy, Louis Two-Knives, the only one who can lead them to the cabin Shiloh was staying in.

Cork's estranged wife plays a part in this story, once she is aware that the rescue mission and its members may not be all that it seems. She knows that at least one member of the team is a traitor but cannot communicate with the team. The chapters alternate between Shiloh's struggles as she tries to return to civilization, Cork's adventures, and Cork's wife's activities in Aurora.

The physical setting of northern Minnesota and the exploration of the Anishinaabe culture is a bonus. In this book, Krueger focuses on the Anishinaabe storytelling tradition.

One thing I noticed while reading Boundary Waters was a prevalence of violence (more than in Iron Lake, and that story was not tame). The opening scene was somewhat shocking (although no explicit violence there). Overall, it did not bother me and I felt like it fit the context of the story, but I did wonder if the rest of the series was like this. William Kent Krueger answers that question in a blog post from 2009. (Boundary Waters was published in 1999 and Krueger had published nine books in the series by that time.)  Per the author, only two other books in the series (to that point) were as violent as this one. So I take that to mean that there is good variation within the series, in that area and others.


Publisher:  Atria Books, 2009, orig. pub. 1999.
Length:    402 pages
Format:    Trade Paperback
Series:     Cork O'Connor #2
Setting:    Minnesota
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    On my TBR since December 2019.


Cath said...

This sounds so good and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Glad to hear your reassurance about violent scenes... not my favourite thing, though I don't mind if it fits the context and isn't too frequent.

TracyK said...

Cath, I think you will like the book. I do like the family dynamics a lot, and learning about the Anishinaabe culture.

Margot Kinberg said...

Krueger does have a very appealing writing style, Tracy (at least in my opinion). One of the things I also like about his work is the sense of place and local culture. When I've read his work, I've had a solid feeling of 'being there,' if that makes sense. Glad you enjoyed this one.

Rick Robinson said...

This is one of my most favorite of the entire series, as I think I've said before. There are many very exciting scenes and both the descriptions of the landscape and the character's action is so well done. I'm thinking I may reread it in this time of my struggling to find something absorbing, though I'm absorbed in the SF trilogy by John Scalzi I'm reading now.

TracyK said...

Margot, all those things you have mentioned are the reasons I know I will continue reading the series.

TracyK said...

Rick, I think this book would be a good reread, even if you know how it ends. I look forward to some feedback on the Scalzi you are reading. I have a few books by him that I have not read.

Rick Robinson said...

I’ll be posting when I finish the trilogy. I’m about halfway through.

Kay said...

I think I might have read this one way, way back. Can't remember. I'm fairly certain that I read #3 as well and then dropped off. My husband has read them all and is current. Another series to put on my radar to catch up on. Glad you enjoyed it!

TracyK said...

Rick, I am looking forward to that.

TracyK said...

I wish I had started this series earlier, Kay, but I will have fun reading it now. I am glad to hear that your husband likes the series.

col2910 said...

Sounds good, but I've already decided against reading this series. Maybe a foolish decision but I'm not short of alternatives!

TracyK said...

I totally understand, Col. I need to get ruthless with some of the old books / series I have and admit I cannot read them all.

Ed said...

I have been reading this series since 2003, when I read Purgatory Ridge the third book in the series. I have enjoyed them all! Currently, I'm reading Krueger's latest Lightening Strike. It's a prequel #0.5 in the series. It features Cork's father Liam and a twelve year-old Cork!

TracyK said...

Ed, I have the third book in the series to read next, and I want to read them all eventually. Krueger is a very good writer.