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Reviews of Iron Lake (1998)

Review by michael a draper (2010-06-20)
The setting is Aurora, Minnesota, during the winter. There are as many people who travel by skis and snowmobile as by cars.

Judge Robert Parrent is found dead, a possible suicide. The newspaper delivery boy, Paul LeBeau, is missing. All of Paul's deliveries were made up to the judge's house.

Cork O'Connor, once a cop in Chicago and former sheriff of Aurora feels compelled to take action when there's need to solve a crime.

Cork is undergoing a time of turmoil, himself. His wife, Jo, wants a divorce and he is separated from his three children. Painful indeed, just as the Christmas season is upon him. He finds emotional refuge with Molly Nurmi, a waitress at the local coffee shop.

One winter day, he gives a ride to an old Indian wise man, Henry Meloux, who tells him that the Windigo has called Harlan Lytton's name. This is an Indian sign that death is imminent. When Cork goes to Lytton's home to warn him, he's attacked by Lytton's dog and is forced to kill it. Not long after, Lytton is found dead and it is learned that he has been spying on the residents and more.

Cork doesn't believe that the judge committed suicide. He thinks that the killer wanted something that the judge had. Cork also learns things about his own family that shakes his well being.

Dispite personal issues, Cork continues the investigation while pondering his own faith and his relationship with his children.

This is a fine debut novel which won the Anthony and Barry Awards. The author can certainly write a captivating story full of memorable characters, set in the frozen countryside of Minnesota. With his use of Indian folk lore, he places himself as a successor to the legendary Tony Hillerman.

(This review refers to the 1998 version titled “Iron Lake”)

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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