This series is far from new, and in fact I've collected copies of a few because other folks have told me they're excellent. But for whatever reason (mostly too many other books on my to-read list), I didn't open one till now. And it took only a handful of chapters to convince me this won't be my last. And if you're a fan of C.J. Box's park ranger Joe Pickett or Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight as I am, I'm pretty sure you'll love this as well.
It's the first in the author's series featuring former Chicago cop Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor, who moved to remote Aurora, Minnesota, with his wife and three kids. He's part Irish and part Anishiaabe Indian, and Aurora, near Iron Lake, is at the heart of the reservation that includes a wildly successful casino. Cork now is dealing with a soon-to-be ex-wife (a local attorney who mainly represents tribal issues) and the loss of his job as town sheriff. He's moved out of the family home to a place that doubles as a not-fancy gift shop and restaurant. He's also unofficially dating Molly, a local waitress, with mixed feelings about it because he hasn't given up on getting back together with his wife.
But then, a prominent but very unlikable judge apparently commits suicide, and a young boy who might have information goes missing. An old Indian claims a Windingo - an unseen spirit that supposedly calls out the names of its victims - is behind it all. Cork basically dismisses that idea, though given his Indian background, not completely. In fact, he sets out to prove that the judge was murdered, putting his own life (and the lives of the people he loves) in danger.
There's no shortage of action here, and the cultural information on the Anishinaabe and Ojibwe tribes really adds spice to the story. I can't say I was happy with everything that happened, but it all works and convinced me that this is a series well worth reading. Now my only question is, what took me so long? Answer: I don't know, but for sure I won't waste any time getting to the next one!
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (Atria, August 1998; reprint June 2009); 352 pp.)