A vision by a young man with a troubling past sets this investigative mystery in motion, and the suspense continues until “Desolation Mountain’s” conclusion. Although this is one of many books in a series about a former sheriff named Cork O’Connor, William Kent Krueger’s novel can be read as a stand-alone.
Cork’s son, Stephen, only 20-years-old, but with a troubled background, is prone to visions that portend trouble. This vision, in which an eagle is shot down by a boy with an arrow and an undefined monster stands at the boy’s back, is unnerving. Stephen begins to warily watch out for the bad times that loom following his visions.
When a plane crashes into the Minnesota mountains where Cork and his family live, the vision begins to take on meaning. Witnesses to the crash include friends who live in the mountains and a young boy who happens to be taking pictures at the time of the crash. No passengers survive the crash. The mountain friends mysteriously disappear, and sinister men began looking in town for the person who photographed the crash site.
It is obvious to Cork, who is drawn out of his retirement to investigate, that someone or some group was anticipating the plane crash. They were nearby to confiscate some of the wreckage before legitimate authorities could salvage telling bits of the debris.
The plane was bringing a Minnesotan senator along with her family to speak against the proposed mining plan. The plan would decimate the local environment. However, economically it would provide jobs for residents. The mining plan built a disturbing rift in the community. The senator also was an outspoken opponent of a vote in the Senate that would approve sale of armaments to a foreign government with an atrocious human rights record.
A friend of Cork’s from his previous work also begins investigating the crash. He often confers mysteriously with someone from the White House. The evidence that the crash occurred less as pilot error and more as something much more sinister will keep the reader hooked until the very end.
The setting in the lakes and mountains of Minnesota and the ties to nature and Native American culture provide a satisfying background to the story.
The author has won numerous book awards for his Cork O’Connor mysteries. A 2013 book, “Ordinary Grace” is one of the most satisfying mysteries I have read. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2014. Any reader not familiar with Krueger would do well to begin reading his books. His work doesn’t disappoint.