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Vermilion Drift: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series) Paperback – June 7, 2011
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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Some nights, Corcoran O’Connor dreams his father’s death.
William Kent Krueger’s gripping tale of suspense begins with a recurring nightmare, a gun, and a wound in the earth so deep and horrific that it has a name: Vermilion Drift.
When the Department of Energy puts an underground iron mine on its short list of potential sites for storage of nuclear waste, a barrage of protest erupts in Tamarack County, Minnesota, and Cork is hired as a security consultant.
Deep in the mine during his first day on the job, Cork stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims. Five appear to be nearly half a century oldâconnected to what the media once dubbed "The Vanishings," a series of unsolved disappearances in the summer of 1964, when Cork’s father was sheriff in Tamarack County. But the sixth has been dead less than a week. What’s worse, two of the bodiesâincluding the most recent victimâwere killed using Cork’s own gun, one handed down to him from his father.
As Cork searches for answers, he must dig into his own past and that of his father, a well-respected man who harbored a ghastly truth. Time is running out, however. New threats surface, and unless Cork can unravel the tangled thread of clues quickly, more death is sure to come.
Vermilion Drift is a powerful novel, filled with all the mystery and suspense for which Krueger has won so many awards. A poignant portrayal of the complexities of family life, it’s also a sobering reminder that even those closest to our hearts can house the darkestâand deadliestâof secrets.
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In the course of determining the mine's suitability, an inspection team comes upon a room, seemingly blocked by a cave-in, which contains the remains of several bodies. Most are very old, but one has been recently deposited. This not only makes the room a crime scene but also implies a hidden entrance somewhere, and Cork is called in by the County sheriff to investigate. Matters become personal for Cork when ballistic analysis shows that the fatal bullet in the recent body and one retrieved from one of the old corpses could both have come from a gun Cork's father owned years ago; one which Cork has kept securely hidden ever since his death. It is now missing.
The rest of the tale deals not only with the bodies, all of which date back to what had became known as "The Vanishings", but also with Cork's feelings about his father. Could he have somehow been involved? Henry Meloux, the Objibwe shaman and Cork's good friend, is now over 90 and getting quite frail, but Cork hastens to him to find out what he knows. Henry is maddeningly vague, as always, but with the aid of a session in a sweat lodge and his own detective work Cork comes to understand what actually happened.
What we have here is not an ordinary cops-and-robbers, but rather a crime story mixed in with a study of grief. It is a kind of transitional work in the Cork O'Connor series, and no less interesting therefore, but it may not be to everyone's taste.
Cork is hired to find the sister of a prominent town resident. But before he can begin to look in earnest the body of the recently deceased woman is found along with the remains of women who disappeared forty years ago. "The Vanishings" as the disappearances were know were investigated by Cork's father - the sheriff at the time. The story twists here - the recent murder and one of the earlier victims were both killed with the same gun, the service revolver which belonged to Cork's father and one he carried as well when he was in law enforcement. And Cork's long time friend, Henry Meloux seems to have a truth he will not share. Is that truth that Cork's father was not the man he thought him to be?
As in all Krueger books there is a large dose of Ojibwe facts and Iron Range history. The author manages to weave the Indian nation and physical beauty of the region seamlessly into the narrative.
The book is a straightforward fast read - I would agree with one reviewer, several things were too conveniently answered. Good book and if you are a Cork O'Connor fan - not to be missed.