Friday, August 25, 2017

Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger

First Sentence:  In the balance of who we are and what we do, the weight of history is immeasurable.
Cork O’Connor and his bride Rainy are about to celebrate the Fourth of July when Rainy receives a frantic and disturbing voice message from her son Peter, who is in Southern Arizona working at a drug rehab center.  Being unable to reach him, Cork and Rainy fly to Arizona only to learn that Peter hasn’t worked at the center in months and no one knows where he is.  On the message, Peter gave the name Rodriguez, head of a drug cartel.  In what danger is Peter, and is he still alive?
It is a well-done opening that provides a succinct, yet surprisingly emotional, summary of Cork and his history.  This will be appreciated by both new and returning readers of the series.
Krueger is one of a special group of writers who impart small truths and wisdom that fits the story, but also make one take note wanting to remember them—“I understood that the past is never really past.  We live our history over and over, the worst of our memories right there alongside us, step by step, our companions to the grave.”  It is doubtful anyone has ever defined better the concept of trust—“Trust.  An easy word to say. … But putting it into practice?  … You hold a place inside that’s only for you and that you never let anyone else into.  Hell, after she died, we found out even Mother Teresa had secrets too dark to share.”
Krueger makes us think, too, of important issues of today such as bigotry.  Yet the manner isn’t one of preaching or berating, but of opening our eyes and being educated.  His use of language and imagery is always a joy to read—“The demons that plague you are patient horrors. …They are always with you. And why? Because they’re not things separate from you.  They are you.”
The way in which the author constructs his characters makes them real to us.  Although Cork and Rainy take center stage, there are several excellent supporting characters, particularly Jocko, the old miner.  We feel their emotions.  We have a real sense of who they are. 
Just as strong is the sense of place.  Those who have been to the high desert will recognize it.  Those who have not will feel as though they’ve been there.  Krueger’s description of monsoons in the desert is vivid and real.  The threat is as if another character.
Sulfur Springs” has a beginning which seems straightforward, and then builds the sense of danger and suspense layer upon layer, with twists and a bad guy you don’t see coming.

SULFUR SPRINGS (Unl Invest-Cork O’Connor-Arizona-Contemp) - Ex
      Krueger, William Kent – 16th in series
      Atria – Aug 2017

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