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Heaven's Keep    by William Kent Krueger order for
Heaven's Keep
by William Kent Krueger
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Corcoran 'Cork' O'Connor and his wife Jo part angrily (over his hope to get back into law enforcement) as she heads out on a business trip, along with various tribal elders - 'all part of a committee tasked with drafting recommendations for oversight of Indian gaming casinos'. Then her small plane goes down in a heavy snowstorm over the Wyoming Rockies.

What follows is a very painful coming of age for Cork's son Stevie as he and his father embark on a desperate search for Jo - or her remains. An Arapaho Indian has a vision of where the plane went down, and Stephen also has a recurrent dream (of a big yellow room and a door), that he discusses with Cork's spiritual guide and mentor, Henry Meloux. Cork and Stephen join (in a helicopter) the search of the Washakie Wilderness, but it's fruitless - the crash site isn't found.

Six months after the accident - for which the pilot was blamed, having been captured on video drinking heavily the night before - two women come to Cork with a videotape that shows, after close examination, that not only was the supposedly drunken Indian only pretending to imbibe, but that this was a different man altogether from the assigned pilot. Though with little hope for Jo's survival, Cork, 'battling an ambush of fear and rage', is determined to find out what really happened - now that he knows foul play was involved.

Cork's life was already complicated by litigation with Parmer Corporation over plans to build a large condominium resort community around his burger joint, Sam's Place. The only good thing to come out of the plane crash is his meeting tough, sixtyish Hugh Parmer and the friendship that grows between them. Hugh joins Cork in an investigation that draws them both into dire danger and up against ruthless assassins. But as Cork tells his new partner, 'It's always a question of finding a thread to tug, then things usually unravel quickly' - and they find their thread.

Heaven's Keep is an excellent mystery, but what makes it an outstanding story is William Kent Krueger's heart-tugging depiction of the relationships amongst Cork's friends and family members and how they deal with tragedy - and with hope. I also appreciated the spiritual elements and the development of closure on Stephen O'Connor's dream. If you haven't encountered this excellent series yet, you don't know what you're missing.

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