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Northwest Angle    by William Kent Krueger order for
Northwest Angle
by William Kent Krueger
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Northwest Angle is the eleventh (following Vermilion Drift) in this excellent series starring ex-cop Corcoran 'Cork' Liam O'Connor, who is part Irish and part Anishinaabe Indian. Cork's beloved wife Jo was murdered in Heaven's Keep, and he is essentially empty nested. He lives in his northern Minnesota hometown of Aurora, where he was once sheriff.

But Northwest Angle takes us somewhere else. As this thrilling story opens, Cork and his extended family (his children Anne, Jenny and Stephen, his sister-in-law Rose and her husband Mal) are on a houseboat vacation on Lake of the Woods in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota.

The day the derecho (a terrible storm) is to strike, Cork and Jenny take the dinghy to pick up her boyfriend Aaron so that he can meet her family, but make a detour to a place very special to Cork, that he hopes will also have meaning for Jenny. Henry Meloux had brought Cork on his vision quest to an island where Shinnob children were hidden from enemies. As Cork starts trying to talk to Jenny about her relationship with Aaron and her feelings about children, the derecho strikes.

The storm separates them. Jenny finds herself on a small island near an old trapper cabin. Inside is the corpse of a murdered young woman, and nearby she finds an Ojibwe baby (with a cleft upper lip) in a basket. She opens her heart to him, but worries that the killer might return. Luckily her father shows up first and, together they protect and hide the infant when a hunter comes looking for him with a rifle.

In the meantime, the rest of the family find each other and take the boat to Young's Bay Landing to pick up Aaron and report the missing family members. They're aided and offered a place to stay by a local, Seth Bascombe. And an Indian elder guides them to the area where Cork and Jenny were heading ... just in time.

They learn that Lily Smallwood went missing from Stump Island, where members of the Church of the Seven Trumpets are encamped. Lily, who was mildly retarded (and also pregnant) was believed to have drowned herself. The Seven Trumpets folk claim that Lily's smuggler brother Noah 'took advantage of her' and Cork quickly concludes that Noah was the hunter who came after them on the island.

There are further deaths, a betrayal, and many violent encounters in the Northwest Angle and back on the Iron Lake Reservation (where Cork sends Jenny and the baby for refuge with Henry Meloux) before it's all over. Along the way, readers get to know Cork's children better, especially Stephen who asserts that 'my religion's about a way of living, not dying.' I strongly recommend Northwest Angle to you as an immensely satisfying, compelling thriller, rich in mysticism. Don't miss it.

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