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Windigo Island    by William Kent Krueger order for
Windigo Island
by William Kent Krueger
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I very much enjoy William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor mystery novels for their immensely satisfying, compelling plots and thoroughly engaging leads. The mix of thriller and spirituality that the author injects into his stories and characters reminds me in some ways of Robert Tanenbaum's books, though the settings are very, very different, northern Minnesota in this case.

Windigo Island is the fourteenth (following Tamarack County) in this wonderful mystical mystery series that began with Iron Lake. Ex-cop Corcoran 'Cork' O'Connor is part Irish and part Anishinaabe Indian. Cork's wife was murdered in a previous episode and he has recently become close to Rainy Bisonette, niece of his spiritual mentor, Henry Meloux. He adores his small grandson Waaboo (adopted by his daughter Jenny) and worries about his son Stephen, who was terribly injured in their last adventure together.

This time, Cork goes on a quest, accompanied by Jenny (while Aunt Rose looks after Waaboo), Henry (frail in body but iron in spirit) and Rainy's nephew Daniel English. A young woman's body has washed up on Windigo Island, a place of ill repute. The deceased, Carrie Verga had run away from home (as many Native teens do) accompanied by her friend Mariah, kin to Rainy and Henry. Mariah's diabetic mother Louise (who has lost a leg) asks for their help in finding Mariah. Cork does not want Jenny to go but she insists, based on a vision she has had.

There are threats and Cork is attacked. Jenny and Daniel are attracted to each other. More than one of them hears a windigo call their name. What they see as they journey makes them ponder words of Henry's: 'In every human being, there are two wolves constantly fighting. One is fear, and the other is love.' Which one wins? 'The one you feed. Always the one you feed.' They bring predators who abuse young women to justice, but then must face true evil in the monster who calls himself Windigo. They succeed, but at a terrible cost.

Windigo Island is as good as, or better than, any of its predecessors. Don't miss it and do read the Author's Note at the beginning about 'the appalling reality of life for many Native women and girls'. Though Krueger writes fiction, it's based on real trauma and tragedy.

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