Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 12-27-10 | TheFencePost.com

Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 12-27-10

It was an incredible find.

That one piece of the puzzle, the missing item to complete a collection, the antique you’d remembered from your childhood had been missing for so long that you sometimes wondered if you had imagined it. You’d almost forgotten about it.

And then, just when you weren’t looking for anything in particular, there it was: the Holy Grail. That which was missing. The thing you wanted.

Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor wasn’t looking for anything except an entrance into an old mine, but in the new book “Vermilion Drift” by William Kent Krueger, he found something he never expected: six dead bodies.

Along the top of Minnesota’s Iron Range, the Great North Mining Company had been in operation for a long time, and what the company wanted, it got. It could move entire towns and it could make people rich. But it couldn’t change their minds.

Max Cavanaugh, owner of the mining company, had found a good use for one of his depleted mines, Vermilion One, when the U.S. government short-listed it as a possible site for nuclear waste. The mine was geologically sound and unlikely to leak. The problem was that nobody in Tamarack County – particularly the Ojibwa on the nearby reservation – wanted nuclear waste in their back yards.

While the fight within the community hurt his soul, Cork O’Connor barely thought about that. His concern: he’d been hired to find Max Cavanaugh’s sister, Lauren, who had been missing for days. It wasn’t unusual for Lauren to flit off, but this time, she didn’t come back.

Resentment over the mine made Cork believe there was a tie. Threatening notes had been sent to Cavanaugh and others who were involved. Protestors lined the grounds entrance, things were escalating, and Cork’s fellow Ojibwa weren’t happy with him. Being half-Shinnob and working with Cavanaugh, Cork was seen as somewhat of a traitor.

But when an abandoned entrance to the mine was discovered and along with it, six female bodies, the controversy took a gruesome turn. One of the skeletons was that of Cork’s long-missing cousin, and Henry, his friend and Mide, claimed that Cork’s late father had known about everything.

Which made Cork wonder if something else was missing, too …

Every time I sit down with a novel by author William Kent Krueger, I lose track of time. But this book almost lost me.

“Vermilion Drift” starts out slow and almost a little confusing. There are a lot of characters, right from the start, and it takes awhile to sort them out. The good news is that the confusion doesn’t last long, and before I was 20 pages into this mystery, the clock stopped for me again. Fans of Cork O’Connor won’t be disappointed here; in fact, what you’ll learn will fill in some blanks on this smart, stoic PI.

Not already a fan? Start this book and you will be, because when winter nights practically beg for a good curl-up-and-read book, this is what it’s calling for. For mystery fans, “Vermilion Drift” is an incredible find.

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