Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Has William Kent Krueger Written a Cozy?

By Chester Campbell

I just finished reading Northwest Angle, Krueger's eleventh Cork O'Connor novel. It's the first one of his I've read. From comments I've seen on DorothyL, it isn't typical of his series about the former Chicago cop now dabbling in the PI business. Apparently the publisher wasn't sure exactly what to call it. The promotional blurb on the back cover of the Advance Reading Copy ends with this:

"Part thriller, part mystery, part exploration of the human heart, Northwest Angle is a dynamic addition to William Kent Krueger's critically acclaimed, award-winning series."

The title comes from the setting of the book, a remote area of Minnesota that juts out of Canada and includes islands in Lake of the Woods. That is one reason I question whether it could be called a cozy. The normal definition of the subgenre includes the setting in a small community where everybody knows everybody. Although the area of the Northwest Angle isn't really small, it's sparsely populated, giving the same effect as a small community. Everybody gets around on boats.

Cozies are supposed to be short on sex and violence. The only sex here took place before the story began, when a young Ojibwe girl got pregnant. Most of the violence comes about from the forces of nature, a destructive storm called a derecho. Other than that, there are lots of threats but only a couple of shooting scenes. There's no more actual violence than takes place in my Greg McKenzie series, which a few reviewers have called cozy.

Of course, I happen to disagree with that characterization of the McKenzie books and also would not hang that moniker on Krueger's latest. Northwest Angle is mostly the story of Cork O'Connor's family problems and how they are resolved. There is a mystery at the core of it, but the novel is heavily weighted on the characters. It is well-written and suspenseful. Makes me want to go back and read some of his earlier books.

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havenwriter said...

Absolutely unlike any of his other books. The continuing characters are there but from that point nothing is familiar or recognizable. He's a good writer but I wouldn't start with this book.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Sounds like an intriguing book, Chester. It's on my TBR list.

Chester Campbell said...

I'm looking forward to reading one of his earlier books.

Jaden Terrell said...

I haven't read this one yet, though I will because I love his books. I still think IRON LAKE (the first in the series) is best, but I've liked all of the Cork O'Connor books.