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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger

I was intrigued by the post-World War II repercussions on small-town Minnesota and by the dark secrets coming to light, but found myself wanting more character development.

In The River We Remember, it's 1958 in a small town in Minnesota, and the blustering, bossy narcissist Jimmy Quinn, the biggest landowner around, has been found floating in the Alabaster River, killed by a shotgun blast.

Sheriff Brody Dern must face his own postwar demons when he confronts Noah Bluestone, a Native American World War II veteran accused of murdering Quinn.

Noah and his Japanese wife Kyoko have suffered their share of prejudice and poor treatment (I felt as though their unruffled receipt of much of this abuse might rely on stoic stereotypes...?). But Brody is beginning to think that the couple may be hiding a very good reason for wanting to get rid of Quinn.

Meanwhile, Quinn’s family is harboring dark secrets that stretch back decades. Angie at the local diner is catching Brody’s eye, but she wonders if he would accept her past if she shared it. And even Brody and his family have secrets that would destroy them if they came to light.

Yet the tone of the book is not one of intrigue and suspense; this is a patiently paced story of a time and place—which happens to have a mystery (Who killed Jimmy?) at its center.

I found myself impatient with the complications of Brody’s own making and with his weakness; I also didn’t believe in his “love” for the person he is purported to have yearned for his whole life.

I was intrigued at being immersed in post-war, small-town Minnesota, including the dark, dark secrets serving as the driving forces of the story, but I found myself wanting more here in terms of character introspection or growth.

I listened to The River We Remember as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

William Kent Krueger is also the author of The Levee, Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land.


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