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Fox Creek (Cork O’Connor #18) by William Kent Krueger


 

 

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Praise for Fox Creek

 

“This genuinely thrilling and atmospheric novel brims with characters who are easy to root for.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“As usual in a Krueger novel, the prose is elegant, the landscape of Minnesota’s northeastern triangle is vividly portrayed, the character development is superb, and Henry’s Native American mysticism is treated with understanding and respect.”
—The Washington Post

“From Iron Lake — the first in the Cork O’Connor series — to Fox Creek, Krueger has exhibited a mastery and control that can’t be denied. Maybe he should start calling himself an alchemist, because he has the formula down to an art.”
—St. Louis Post Dispatch

“Krueger has exhibited a mastery and control that can’t be denied. Maybe he should start calling himself an alchemist, because he has the formula down to an art.”
—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Fox Creek is the best book in the series yet.” —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“Outstanding… skillfully blends an evocative look at nature’s beauty and peril with Native American lore…fans will be enthralled.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“One of those rare authors who combines intricately plotted, issue-oriented stories with mysticism and action. A must for fans of beautifully written crime.”
—Library Journal

 


 

Review

Cork O’Connor now is flipping burgers in his new life working at Sam’s Place, he is still in possession of a licence, a licence to investigate. He works along his son in Sam’s Place Stephen who is twenty-one and turns out in this story to be a bit of the chip of the old block and a capable investigator. Their working days now has them reside at “the edge of Iron Lake, on the outskirts of Aurora, a small town deep in the great Northwoods of Minnesota.
A Louis Morriseau has a problem with his wife Dolores, who also has another man, she had gone on a trip of self discovery in the wilderness but its been a week and he hasn’t had contact and needs someone with a skill in investigating, Cork is the man he wants a favour from in contacting her.
Cork discovers some truths one being the man she has gone with is the one and only Henry Meloux and Rainy, the ancient Ojibwe healer and an uncle to Rainy Bisonette, Rainy Corks wife for two years a healer and one of the Midewiwin.
The problem Cork finds when meeting Dolores that the man who wants her found is not her husband and an imposter and that she has someone after her and the real Louis/Lou mainly for bigger worldly troubles.
Why do they want her and Louis to the extent that skilled men of tracking and killing capabilities have been hired for it?
As far as Dolores knows, her husband’s job was a real estate lawyer but he must have been caught in an intricate web that has ensued such a deadly response and the story with have you reading on for need of answers.

There is fact in this tale to do with real events and tragedies that had started in 1919, the author mentioned in his notes at the end, and with completing the reading of the story that fact will become knowledge but to mention now a spoiler also.

With time aspects escalate and fear of present danger evermore evident and Henry Meloux, Rainy and Dolores Morriseau resulting them going into hiding with mercenaries on their tail.

Cork faces new complexities and new paths along with Henry and LeLoup, for example he reflects in this paragraph:

“Finally, he stands alone in the shadow of approaching night with the darkening Northwoods before him, the abandoned cabins at his back and, beyond them, the shiny blue-black mercury surface of Iron Lake. In the still, oppressive air of that emptied place, he asks himself the same question Dolores Morriseau put to him earlier that day: “What kind of private investigator are you?”
At that moment, the answer is painfully obvious.”

The force of a man named The Wolf/LeLoup is a great character creation on paper one of exceptional skill and craftsmanship in tracking and executing if needed but also spiritual and another in the realm of finding ones purpose and place in worlds. His journey also a key captivating aspect in this story.
In Henry Meloux the healer the wolf LeLoup has an adversary and that they both lock in destiny two roads in mysterious and deep paths.

The books chapters are structured in the point of view first person perspective of the main characters Cork, Rainy, The Wolf, and Stephen.

There will be the search for answers, a search for Louis and a need for safety for two women and an aged wise healer from hot pursuit of mercenaries with LeLoup and Henry on finding their path amidst the with beauty and wilderness and the forces of nature that will cause obstacles all these aspects amalgamating into a memorable mystery in Fox Creek.
Life slipping, mutating and metamorphosing into another for a few men, a spiritual journey and time of ageing these elements beating through this mystery and the wilderness seeking safety story of land where upon lay the evil histories of man and a tragedy of fact in the northern region of America affecting the native denizens of the land forming a heartfelt and captivating story with the soothing inner world and outer world descriptive affecting prose style William Kent Krueger is known for.

 

A few names contained:

Cork O’Connor
Rainy Bisonette
Jenny O’Connor
Stephen O’Connor
Waaboo

Henry Meloux
Louis Morriseau.
Dolores Morriseau
Belle Morriseau

The Wolf LeLoup
Kimball

 

Excerpts

In prologue there is this:

“He’s an old man, with more than a century of living behind him. When he rises each morning, there is no part of his body that doesn’t feel the weight, the ache, the wear of all those years. Although he moves more slowly now, he still unceasingly walks the forests with which he has been in intimate communion since he was a boy, spends full days alone in the great North Woods. His disappearances have become a cause for concern among those who care about him, and there are many, not only on the Iron Lake Reservation but also in the town of Aurora and across much of Tamarack County, Minnesota.”

“His body is a thin wall between this world and that which awaits him beyond, but sometimes his spirit travels between these two worlds. He has occasionally flown like an eagle and seen from a high place his own body lying as if lifeless under a canopy of pine boughs. He understands his death is an experience neither to fear nor to welcome. It is simply a place toward which he has been walking since the moment of his birth.
The world around him is one that has both showered him in delight and presented him with enormous challenge. The delight has always been in nature, in the beauty it has offered, the solace, the lessons, the wisdom, the healing, the communion of spirits. The challenge has been of the human kind. At the hands of human beings, he has experienced cruelty, pain, deceit, avarice, jealousy, hate. Most of his life he has been a healer, working in the ways of the natural world to help guide others to a place of harmony, what his people, the Anishinaabeg, call minobimaadiziwin, the way of the good life. It is the purpose to which he was born.
But he feels the pull of another calling now, one that despite his age and knowledge and wisdom he doesn’t understand. It is a dark calling, melancholy and unsettling. As he walks the woods in the communion of spirits, he asks for answers, which have not come. Patience has always been his grounding, but he feels himself growing restless and uncertain. He feels he is being followed, but not by anything human. Death is his shadow. The prospect of his own death isn’t what troubles him. It is the sense that death will come to others, come far too early in their journey through this world. What the old man, this ancient soul, is trying to understand is this: Am I the one who stands between death and the others, or am I the one who leads death to them?”

Cork:

“The house on Gooseberry Lane has been home to Cork since his birth. Within its walls, he’s grown from infancy to adulthood, as have his children, and now his grandson is being raised there. The house is two stories, painted white, with a covered porch that runs the full length of the front, and a stately elm in the front yard, planted when Cork was an infant. Some things in a person’s life are often taken for granted, but for Cork, the comfort this house has provided him and his family is a blessing for which he never fails to feel a deep sense of gratitude.”

Cork kneels down and puts his face near the man’s ear. “My friend is Ojibwe,” he says. “Do you know what that word means? It means ‘to pucker,’ which is what happens to a man when he’s burned alive.”

“Every life must end, but a world without Henry Meloux is a world Cork doesn’t want to begin to imagine. The Mide has been a part of his life and life on the Iron Lake Reservation for as long as even the oldest of the old can remember. Meloux’s guidance has helped Cork and so many others untie the difficult, knotted threads of their lives. Imagining the world without Meloux would be like trying to imagine the world without sunshine or the songs of birds.”

Wolf:

“He has never been on Iron Lake and he appreciates the beauty of it, though it’s too populated for his taste. He prefers lakes where there’s nothing on the shoreline but the rocks and trees put there by the hand of nature. Under the warming sun of early May, he imagines what the lake must have been like before the white people arrived and built their cabins, their town. He does this a lot, this daydreaming of a time before everything was ruined. Useless, he knows. But then so much of what a human being does every day is, in the end, useless. Or rather, he thinks idling in his kayak, pointless.”

“Except for Kimball, LeLoup knew none of the others before they gathered for this mission. He’s worked with Kimball before. He doesn’t like the man, but the operations he brings LeLoup in on always pay well.”

“To LeLoup, there is something sacred in the fall of snow or of rain. Blessings from the heavens, they sustain life. And if sometimes they create difficulties for humans, that’s not the fault of nature. The fault is in the nature of man. Humans, LeLoup believes, are far too focused on doing and not enough on being. Usually when he’s in a wilderness like this, his inclination is to stop, sit, meditate, absorb, appreciate. He feels as if the woods speak to him. Those moments are the best in his life.
But this is a different kind of moment, one that requires another part of himself. He’s focused on doing. Much to his dismay, he begins to see the snow as an obstacle, an enemy instead of a thing of mystery and beauty. The storm has descended in force and he can barely see the woods around them. Their prey might well be anywhere and, maybe like Herring, just waiting for them to come into rifle range. The wind whips the bushes and brush and he can no longer see signs. He finally delivers the news to Kimball. “We have to stop.”

“LeLoup is tired, too. Not much sleep the night before, followed by a long day of tracking. He would like to close his eyes and rest. Instead, he sits with the wind howling past their little shelter and the snow gathering deeper on the ground, and he considers the possibility that somewhere out there is a man who may well beat him in the only thing LeLoup has ever been any good at.”

“For LeLoup, dreams are a dangerous territory. In dreams, the past is not the past. The terrors of his childhood in the residential school still plague him. A lifetime of trespass haunts him. Nameless faces loom before him. The voicesof dead men speak.
In dreams, LeLoup sees things he cannot explain. In the dream that awakened him, he saw a man in the clearing of a forest transform into a huge beast and begin a battle with another beast that was its twin.
In this dream, he not only stood watching the battle; he was the transformed man, and he was deep in the fight, claws ripping, teeth gnashing. Even when he wakes, the fury of the dream still unsettles him.
His dreams have sometimes proven to be premonitions.”

“You see everything as a fight, Kimball. It’s not that way. I’m not fighting this wilderness. And I’m not fighting the old man.”
“No? What then?”
“Think of it as a dance, and I’m trying to hear the music.”

“I know you from dreams. Not you exactly. I don’t know how to explain it. But the moment I saw you today, I knew you.”
“It is a great web that the Creator spins, and within it, we are all connected. Dreams are sometimes the threads of that connection. In dreams, Ma’iingan, I have seen you, too.”
In the same way LeLoup has been awaiting this old man, the old man has been waiting for him. This new knowledge fills LeLoup with a warmth he’s never known before. Tears flood his eyes and stream down his cheeks. He has never wept in front of another man, never shown any weakness. But now he lets the tears flow freely.

“LeLoup stands waiting, something he’s good at. He feels as if his whole life has been a great waiting. Waiting for the appearance of someone who could tell him who he is and where he came from. Waiting to see clearly the path he was meant to walk. Waiting for the warm affection of another human heart. Waiting to know the reason he has always felt like a soul alone in the universe.”

“Kitchi-Ottiziwin. He’d pondered this final word the woman had offered him. To live and express yourself kindly and fully from the heart. Is this the path before me? he wondered. It seemed an impossible thing to ask, especially considering all that he’d been a part of in the past. He’d remembered a line from a poem he read in school long ago that for some reason had stayed with him. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
Sitting in the dark, under a heaven full of stars, and with a little flame flickering in the distance, he’d felt as if he was at a place where two roads diverge. As the night crawled toward morning, he had considered long and hard the choice before him.”

“He’s always known the end would be death. It’s the same for every living thing. But all his life, he’s believed that his death would mean nothing, and this, more than death itself, is what has always troubled him. But the old Mide finally opened his eyes to the true nature of the journey he’s been on his whole life, and if this death is the one that has always awaited him, there is a reason.”

Henry:

“Listen to me. Since I first entered this world, what awaits has always been before me. If I turn this way or that, it is still there, waiting, more patient than any human being.”

Stephen:

“Stephen tells her about the dream of the man in the clearing and the two battling Windigos.”

Rainy:

“Then she snaps herself out of her maudlin imagining, opens her eyes, and comes back to the reality of the moment. Which presents her with a conundrum. Cork is ogichidaa, a warrior, and she is not. She is Mide, a healer. She nurtures life. Yet here she sits with a rifle in her hands, prepared to kill.
What does the Creator expect of me?”

Belle:

“Our people didn’t always live on an island,” Belle says. “A hundred years ago, typhoid fever was rampant in Winnipeg, and the city was desperate for a source of clean drinking water. They looked to Shoal Lake, where our ancestors lived. The study the government made indicated that, in their words, ‘only a few Indians’ lived there.”

“They relocated our people to the end of a peninsula,” Belle continues. “Then they dug a diversion canal across the neck, creating an island and cutting us off from the mainland. For a hundred years, the only way to get into or out of the reserve has been by boat when Shoal Lake was open or, in winter, a dangerous walk across frozen water.”