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  • Writer's pictureAnna Karras

Book Review by Anna Karras - The River we Remember: A Novel

Jimmy Quinn owns the most land of anyone in Black Earth County in rural southwestern Minnesota. When the flame-haired farmer is discovered half-eaten by catfish in the Alabaster River with a shotgun blast in his chest on Memorial Day, 1958, the county seat of Jewel is in an uproar.

Sherriff Brody Dern has his hands full with trying to control the crime scene, keep nosy townspeople at bay, and keep the lid on a proverbial pot that is about to boil over. Before the coroner can even complete the autopsy, word around town is that Noah Bluestone, a Native American who worked on Quinn’s farm as a hand, is guilty of the crime. What follows is not just a murder mystery, but the lifting of the lid on the secrets of a small town that seems idyllic and all-American on the surface.

Krueger weaves a story that is part police procedural and part domestic fiction. It’s not just the following of clues, he also delves into the lives of the residents of Black Earth County—their motivations and secrets. Many of the men in town hold deep scars (physical and emotional) from World War II that color their thoughts and influence their actions. And it isn’t just the men that have things to hide—Brody Dern’s own sister-in-law Garnet, and Angie Madison, the owner of the restaurant in Jewel, Charlotte Bauer, the retired lawyer, and Kyoko Bluestone, the Japanese wife of Noah all have their carefully concealed secrets. But whose secret was horrible enough to blast away Jimmy Quinn? And why?

As the novel progresses and new information comes to light the mystery of Jimmy Quinn’s death becomes even murkier and harder to fathom. Krueger does an excellent job of leading us through the clues one at a time, layering the narrative with deep delves into the personalities of the characters. These two components bring together a story that is rich in detail with enough mystery to keep the reader guessing until the terrible truth comes to light. This standalone novel of Krueger’s explores the themes of redemption and healing and portrays small-town America unflinchingly and realistically.


∞ Author's Profile

William Kent Krueger is best known for his crime series featuring Cork O’Connor, a part-Irish, part-Ojibwe former sheriff who has trouble resigning his badge. Krueger has worked many jobs from ditch digger to construction and it wasn’t until he was 40 years old that he sold his first manuscript, Iron Lake. He has won multiple awards for his novels (including the Edgar and Anthony awards) and makes frequent appearances on the New York Times bestseller list. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife and has two children.


The River We Remember: A Novel

by William Kent Krueger

Publisher: Atria Books

432 Pages

$28.99 US


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