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    Review of HEAVEN'S KEEP by William Kent Krueger (see his website)


    Atria, September 2009

    She left him angry. And when her flight went down somewhere over Wyoming, all private detective Cork O'Connor could think was that he should have apologized, said something...anything but let their last words be those of love.

    In the days immediately following the plane's disappearance, Cork and his teenage son, Stephen, head up to the desolation of Heaven's Keep, Wyoming where the FAA received the doomed plane's last message. With storms coming, and with the huge desolation of snow-covered mountain and Indian reservation, their effort to find Jo is practically hopeless. Still, they're encouraged by the word that a group of snowmobilers had heard a low-flying plane, and that a sometimes drunk Indian had a vision of the plane landing in what looked like a baby's crib.

    Cork's hopes fade as more storms set in. Even if Jo had survived the landing, Wyoming's brutal winter would certainly have been fatal. But when he learns that the supposed pilot might not have been the man he was supposed to be, Cork wonders if bad weather and bad luck really explained his wife's disappearance. Could some darker cause related to human greed be responsible? He swears he'll find out, but in a world of brutal poverty, finding anyone to trust becomes dangerous indeed.

    Author William Kent Krueger writes convincingly of the desolation of Indian country, of the poverty that afflicts reservation Indians, and of the mixed blessing that gambling casinos, with their addictions and connections to organized crimes, can bring. The story really takes two parts connected only by Cork's ongoing search for his wife--first the hunt for the plane and second, the search for the truth about the substitute pilot. From a mystery perspective, the first half is all setup. We meet the key players, learn about Cork and his problems, and stay with him as he gradually loses hope for his wife's survival. In the second half, Cork goes into detective mode, and faces threats to his life, gradually unraveling the secrets behind the loss of the small plane on which his wife, along with a group of tribal leaders, were flying.

    I thought the first half went too slowly, and gave us a few too-obvious clues. In the second half, Krueger picks up the pace, delivering plenty of action. Krueger's writing is smooth and enjoyable, drawing me into the story at the same time as it played off Indian visions with modern forensic science.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 9/01/09

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