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The River We Remember
The River We Remember
Author: William Kent Krueger
On Memorial Day, as the people of Jewel, Minnesota gather to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many sons in the wars of the past, the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. Investigation of the murder falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781982179212
ISBN-10: 198217921X
Publication Date: 9/5/2023
Pages: 432
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.

4.5 stars, based on 10 ratings
Publisher: Atria Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 105
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

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Ichabod avatar reviewed The River We Remember on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Wash Me in the Water

It is 1958, southern Minnesota, and the enchanting Alabaster River not only reflects the dreams and memories of Jewel's people, it also possesses the murdered body of that town's wealthiest and most hated citizen, Jimmy Quinn. Sheriff Brody Dunn is anxious to see this buried as an accident or suicide, but clues are appearing and point to foul play.

Noah Bluestone, a Native American, had recently been fired by Quinn for allegedly stealing gasoline. He had always stood up to Quinn and there was noticeably no love lost between the two. With an outright hatred of Native Americans prevalent, many were ready to pass judgment on Noah. His wife, Kyoko, a Japanese survivor of Nagasaki, was also a sore spot in these post-WWII years. The couple was the perfect lightning rod for people's suspicions and hatred.

So, did Noah murder Quinn? Of course, that is the major mystery here. But this is more than a whodunit. The characters here have a lot of secrets... a lot of pain. A number of the men suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the wars. Sheriff Dunn is haunted by his experience, and it cripples his self-esteem. He has also been betraying his own brother in what seems an unforgivable behavior. Now he is working on a new relationship with Angie, the proprietor of the town's diner... but she has been harboring her own secret which seems about to destroy any chance for happiness.

While the question of guilt is front and center, the cry for healing sounds throughout. People here are struggling to help one another, even as they are reeling from their own pain. This is the first I have read of William Kent-Krueger and I must make time to read more of his work. This one was solid both in plot and character, a brilliant read.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
eadieburke avatar reviewed The River We Remember on + 1592 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River. Sheriff Brody Dern is called in to investigate the murder of Jimmy Quinn. I have read many novels by William Kent Krueger who also wrote the Cork O'Connor novels and I look forward to reading more from him. Krueger knows how to keep the reader going until the very ending of the book. The novel is beautifully written and is very thought provoking. If you like powerful novels then you will love this book.
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VolunteerVal avatar reviewed The River We Remember on + 549 more book reviews
The River We Remember is the third full-length stand-alone novel by William Kent Krueger, who is well known for his 20+ book Cork O'Connor mystery series. Ordinary Grace, his first non-series book, is my favorite novel of all time. I was reluctant to read another stand-alone story written by him because my expectations were so high; as a result, I haven't read This Tender Land even though I have a personally autographed copy on my shelves. I was happy, but not surprised, that I truly appreciated every aspect of The River We Remember. The writing is excellent and approachable, my favorite literary style.

This story has an interesting mystery - solving the death of influential but lowly-regarded Jimmy Quinn - but it's also much more. It's a study of flawed but (mostly) well-intentioned characters, a snapshot of life in the late 1950s in southern Minnesota, and commentary on the impact of WWII on those who served and all who waited on the home front, as illustrated in this quote.

Brody: "To him and Del this probably feels like war."
Anita: "But they're just boys."
Brody: "It's always boys who go to war."

Readers meet a fairly large cast as we live among the residents of Jewel for the summer of 1958; I found it helpful to make a character list. They face alcoholism, abuse, grief, prejudice, post-traumatic stress syndrome, infidelity, and a host of other faults, but they're also altruistic, loving, hard-working, and loyal. The primary character is Sheriff Brody Dern; a decorated war hero, he strives to do the right thing, which may or may not involve following the letter of the law.

Brody: "... you and I both know that justice isn't always about what the law dictates. Hell, maybe it never is."

In his role and as a lifelong resident of Jewel, Brody is connected to everyone in town; he's the throughline of the story. No writer crafts multi-dimensional characters like William Kent Krueger, which is the primary reason I love his novels.

I'm very grateful to Atria for sharing a review copy of his powerful novel and to Kent for writing it and (finally) sharing it with the world.


On September 18, 2023, I heard William Kent Krueger speak about his novels and writing process; here are his most meaningful comments from that event:

While writing novels, his Cork O'Connor mysteries are carefully crafted in his head while the stand-alone stories come from his heart.

He considers his stand-alone novels (Ordinary Grace, This Tender Land, and The River We Remember) to be "companions" to each other because they share these commonalities:
- set in southern Minnesota vs. northern Minnesota for Cork O'Connor novels
- set in earlier years (1930s to 1960s) than the Cork O'Connor series
- common themes of forgiveness, healing, prejudice, spirituality, etc.
- stories are complete at the end of each book; the characters won't appear in any other stories


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