Review copy was received from NetGalley, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger
Narrator: CJ Wilson
Published by Atria Books, Simon & Schuster Audio on September 5, 2023
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Historical Fiction
Length: 13 hours, 33 minutes
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
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.
I have come to appreciate this author’s work greatly. He has a long running series which is a police / investigator procedural that seems current time. His independent books like this one seem more a look at historical times and attitudes.
The setting is a rural community of Jewel, Minnesota in Blue Earth county, starting in 1958. As far as I can tell this town doesn’t exist. The county is not unlike where I grew up in the next generation and only about 100 miles from my hometown in Iowa.
While it is at least 12 years after the war, the characters here are all dealing with the impact. Everything mentioned seems to be World War 2, although the Korean War was most recent. There are war veterans who saw horrors and are haunted by them. Other veterans have physical effects remaining. There are war widows who are single mothers.
One man, Noah, a Native American who grew up here, and ancestors were pushed off this land years ago, had a distinguished military record. He was a star of the local sports teams. He is the expected culprit when a wealthy landowner, Quinn, is murdered. Quinn was not liked, also a heavy drinker, and he was Noah’s employer.
The area is rife with prejudice because Noah is a Native American and has a Japanese wife. Those who are most prejudiced seem to be laborers who are white men who drink too much and have too many guns. The sheriff is the second son and his brother got the education and land, while he went off to war. He was a successful soldier but has horrible memories.
The people in charge, like the sheriff, are flawed. They bend the rules, which doesn’t always work. As I read, I had a feeling of heartbreak. There were good, honest, hard-working people who were struggling or being hurt. Some others were entitled and disrespectful of others, expecting things to go their way. I appreciated the people of integrity who supported others showing compassion and kindness. The story is powerful, and sad.
I wasn’t familiar with this narrator and it looks like he only has 3 titles on Audible. I was comfortable with his voices. There were some accents for characters which sounded appropriate but I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if they were accurate. The performance kept me engaged and feeling the emotional tones of the characters. I was able to listen comfortably at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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