The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger

Synopsis

In 1958, a small Minnesota town is rocked by the murder of its most powerful citizen, pouring fresh fuel on old grievances in this dazzling standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land.

On Memorial Day, as the people of Jewel, Minnesota gather to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many sons in the wars of the past, the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. Investigation of the murder falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who still carries the physical and emotional scars from his military service. Even before Dern has the results of the autopsy, vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran who has recently returned to Jewel with a Japanese wife. As suspicions and accusations mount and the town teeters on the edge of more violence, Dern struggles not only to find the truth of Quinn’s murder but also put to rest the demons from his own past.

Caught up in the torrent of anger that sweeps through Jewel are a war widow and her adolescent son, the intrepid publisher of the local newspaper, an aging deputy, and a crusading female lawyer, all of whom struggle with their own tragic histories and harbor secrets that Quinn’s death threatens to expose.

Both a complex, spellbinding mystery and a masterful portrait of midcentury American life, The River We Remember is an unflinching look at the wounds left by the wars we fight abroad and at home, a moving exploration of the ways in which we seek to heal, and a testament to the enduring power of the stories we tell about the places we call home.

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Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Captures very complex dynamics. I’d recommend to those looking for a read that is rich, immersive, contemplative over layered aspects of justice, truth, duty, honor, community, and strength. Will make for a great book club discussion.

Thank you to Book Club Favorites at Simon & Schuster for the free copy for review.

Expected publication: September 5, 2023.

The Story
The nuance as told through interpersonal tension, over a singular incident that stretches as wide as it is deep, is something Krueger is so skilled at conveying. This delicate dance of of thriller mixed with historical fiction that tells about varying aspects of life and factions, accusation, secrets, multi-cultural perspective, shaping of social norms, police proceedings and standard “water cooler office talk,” CPTSD, and onto duty, honor, to regret and infallibility.

The Writing
I enjoyed the slow pace and descriptions of small town life.

Though I must say, a bit too slow at points. I sped-read at times. Especially as far as the detail in what people were doing at every second of the day, and especially since there were so many characters. Some words and description were a bit much on over-emphasis, I’d rather be told than anything explained. Though some readers I know prefer otherwise.

However, the aspects of mystery-thriller in the plot itself drawn out at times necessary, kept it moving a bit better for me, but just uneven in application.

Characters
Many characters. I had a hard time committing them to memory since majority were introduced at the beginning with much description, but also less impact, connection, purpose, and I’m not sure I made full circle with all of them.

Perhaps it didn’t matter so much since all other aspects of the storytelling were immersive and framed well enough for me to gain a sense of who is who even without being particularly distinguishable or what I found to be drowned out numerically speaking.

But I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway, because the town aspect I was drawn to, of community member connection with each other and their role in the township.

A lovey read, I look forward to book club discussion.

View all my reviews

<span class="uppercase">Hello, I'm Erica </span>
Hello, I’m Erica

Recipe developer, book reviewer, and artist. Expect delicious recipes both traditional and new, book reviews of all sorts of genres, a variety of creative expression, life musings, and much more!

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