Desolation Mountain

Desolation Mountain

“Desolation Mountain,” by William Kent Krueger, 2018, Atria, 231 pages, $26

The dream is one you’ll never forget.

It’s dark, and scary, and it wakes you with pounding heart and dry mouth, a scream on your lips as your eyes slam open. It makes you afraid to go back to sleep. Like most dreams, it doesn’t make any sense. And, as in the new thriller “Desolation Mountain,” by William Kent Krueger, it keeps coming back.

That’s how it happened with Stephen O’Connor.

The dream came to him, sometimes many times in a week: a boy who was him-not-him shot an eagle from the sky before seeing something so malevolent, so terrifying, that it woke Stephen violently. It was a vision, he was certain, but even his mide, Henry Meloux, couldn’t help him sort it out.

Cork O’Connor knew that this vision was bothering his son. Stephen just wasn’t himself, but he was a man now. Stephen would ask for help when he needed it — so, for now, Cork turned his attention to other matters.

A large corporation was trying to gain the rights to minerals and ores beneath “the rez,” and Tamarack County was split between the Ojibwe Indians who wanted the land left untouched, and local men who wanted better jobs. Tensions were high, and Minnesota Sen. Olivia McCarthy was on her way to speak to the people of Tamarack County about the issue and to gain some insight.

But it never happened. Sen. McCarthy’s plane went down in the pines near Desolation Mountain. There were no survivors.

But nothing about this crash made any sense. Some claimed that there was no “black box,” but Cork knew better. Then people in the community started to disappear, pet dogs were found shot, a woman was killed, and roads were blocked off by officials who didn’t act very official. And when a face from Cork O’Connor’s past showed up in Tamarack County, Stephen O’Connor’s vision-dream intensified.

Used to be that Cork O’Connor novels leaned more toward the mystery side of the genre. There was a crime, and it was solved before you shut the book’s covers.

Not anymore.

“Desolation Mountain” is edgier than the other in this series. It’s dirtier, a little more current, and author William Kent Krueger delves much deeper into Native American spirituality than he ever has. Mixed with something that resembles today’s political atmosphere, that may seem odd, but it works. It feels more like a thriller than an old-school mystery.

For fans of the series as it’s become, that’s welcome news. So is the presence of many of O’Conner’s family and friends, as well as an old friend-foe who reappears with a full case of intrigue to run the story. Also, one more thing: this book will make you scream at the end, but not for the reasons you think.

If you’re not a fan (yet), you’ll be fine starting here, but be warned that “Desolation Mountain” will have you skittering for the rest of the series. Especially if you’re a reader who loves thrillers, this one is a dream.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. You can reach Terri at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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