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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Not a book Review of Sulfur Springs

William Kent Krueger is one of my favorite Minnesota authors. There are many such authors, both male and female who write in diverse genres usually set Minnesota. As you know,  when a book is placed in a location or environment your familiar with, it helps to bring it alive.   Krueger writes basically detective stories.  The background is often in Minnesota's forested Lake country,  Boundary Waters Canoe  Area, Lake superior or the nearby towns of the Iron Range. Cork O'Connor, Krueger's protagonist and former Sheriff has a new wife named Rainy.  She is an Ojibwa.  Cork is partly Indian and mostly Irish. Her son calls from Arizona and tells his mom that he has murdered someone, mentions one name and the phone goes dead. Cork, now retired from the detective business and Rainy rush off to  Arizona  to help. There they encounter in environment far different from the lakes and woods of northern Minnesota. In this alien environment they find out that her missing son is part of a group(coyotes) who try to rescue refugees from Guatemala  fleeing from wars and extreme poverty, all to seek refuge in America.    These families  are often  left waterless and lost in the desert by scammers who take their money and abandon them. Blocking their way  their way besides the desert   are the beginnings of real walls and barbed wire, border patrols and vigilantes.  Besides the vigilantes  there are the drug traffickers all have their own reasons for building higher walls or in the case of the vigilantes and the drug traffickers killing people. In plain English, the refugees are people   are crossing through a war zone. The story inside this authors mystery is a tragedy writ large in the place far away from Minnesota which divides our country ever further between the  red and blue states of America divided.
I recently met William Kent Krueger in our small town library. The taxpayers of Minnesota past a legacy amendment referendum raising our state taxes for protection of the environment and cultural and art support. Mr. Krueger visited a number of towns libraries because of that referendum. I arrived to the library early to speak to our librarian and her aides and  through the door the famous New York Times best-selling author arrived for his presentation. I greeted him and we spoke for about 10 minutes as he set up for his presentation. We compared a few notes on our both at one point living in St. Paul and I said at the end of his presentation I was going to ask him a question. So he then replied will ask me now and I'm glad I did because that the and he was surrounded by fans and people clamoring to buy his most recent yet unpublished book. Was something like this, "surely you had to know that you would get bad reviews and comments and perhaps even threats for writing on this topic? His answer in a nutshell was to nod his head and say yes. Why, I asked and he explained. I can't remember his exact words so I'll make them up but they were what I wanted to hear. He cared. It was an issue that touched him deeply and he needed to write this book. And he did.
His actual book talk, at least for the first half was quite a surprise. He never mentioned his own books but talked about libraries and books and their great influence on all of us in our early childhood years there were many of parents and grandparents in the audience so he spoke of how those early book that our parents read to us had a most powerful influence on us for the rest of our lives. All of those child books but when he explained or reviewed the impact of Dr. Seuss and those like him the audience even could mimic his words as they anticipated his punchlines. The audience was enthralled. Later he talked about his books and his experiences and how he wrote and what was coming and answered all the questions that his fans wanted to hear about. I didn't dance any more questions and when I left ahead of the crowd I think the taxpayers of Minnesota for making this special evening possible and William Kent Krueger for being there. And since then I've finished reading all his books and can tell you if you love a good detective story now you'll know where to find quite a few really good ones
P. S.
Cork O'Connor, the hero of many of Krueger's books has as  a favorite beer. I hate to say it's brewed in our neighboring State of Wisconsin but I might as well. It's brewed in Chippewa Falls. So  some years ago I bought a red and white Lienies hat at the brewery and wore it for more than a decade till it recently fell all a part. I  won't try to trump or change anything about this not a review but plainly Krueger's references to refugees and walls in Sulfur Springs might seem out of today's headlines. But what I'm concerned about today is getting a new red and white hat and I've located several and I could drive over to Wisconsin and get a new one or perhaps the following one pictured might serve just as well and so here is perhaps even better alternative. I think the reference to Orwell's 1984 might be very appropriate for my new hat. Whatcha  think?  

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