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Author Krueger plans talk about latest book at Bemidji library

Author William Kent Krueger will present a talk Monday at the Bemidji Public?Library.T Submitted Photo

For those mystery readers and writers who can't get enough of Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor, author William Kent Krueger will be letting Bemidjians know about the latest episode in the O'Connor family saga, "Northwest Angle," book No. 11 in the Cork O'Connor series and a nominee for the 2012 Minnesota Book Award.

The scene is different from the usual Boundary Waters site to the northwest angle of Minnesota, Lake of the Woods with its 14,000 islands. The free and open to the public presentation will begin at noon Monday in the Bemidji Public Library.

Krueger will be here at the end of The Atria Great Mystery Bus Tour which started April 12 at the Mystery Bookshop in New York City with fellow authors John Connolly, Liza Marklund, and M.J. Rose.

This visit was rescheduled earlier because of a projected snowy day in February, which turned out to be bright and sunny. It is a lucky turn of events for listeners because Krueger will probably be anxious to share his own adventures along with those of O'Connor.

"I have a love affair with this state," said Krueger. "I lived in some stunningly beautiful areas: Oregon, northern California, Colorado. But none of these places ever spoke to me in the way that Minnesota does and I try to let that come through in my prose."

Krueger and his adopted home state are the setting for his series of mystery stories, set in the north woods at Iron Lake, in the town of Aurora about a simple man, Corcoran O'Connor.

The on-and-off again sheriff inherited valor from his Irish father, faith from his Ojibwe mother and personal integrity from both.

The dual heritage of O'Connor, skillfully woven throughout all of Krueger's books, gives the non-Ojibwe reader an insight and sense of the grandeur and richness of this ancient people. Krueger tells the stories and beliefs in such a way as to not only inform the reader but to build a solid stage upon which he relates a history told for ages through native story tellers.

"The Ojibwe have influenced not only my stories, but also the way I perceive the world," said Krueger. "I see it (the world) with a more compassionate eye, I believe, a more profound awareness of the beauty that's possible, of the weakness that so often cuts into that beauty, and of the resilience that is the nature of all life."

Krueger credits his parents for the love of the written word and the fact that they read to him beginning from his crib days. Krueger said that he grew up thinking of the world "in terms of stories" and that he always wanted to be one of the storytellers.

In his books, the protagonist Cork O'Connor manages his dual nature of the dreaded "law man" and native son with the aid of his spiritual advisor and hardnosed advice from his fellow non-native officers. Cork O'Connor is easy with rez life and tradition because of his grandmother's reputation within the clan and his ability to speak and understand basic phrases in the language, sprinkled throughout the prose.

O'Connor grew up with many of the men who show a regard for those traditions and values and those who do not because of life's circumstances or poor decisions.

He knows that a white man (sheriff) who goes onto the rez to find the answers to an offense will get a blind stare whereas he has the trust and confidence of most of the native leaders and spokesmen.

O'Connor always reverts back to his native roots because he trusts its connection to all that is good and bad in the world. His mentor, the now deceased Sam Winter Moon, taught the young Cork native wisdom in hunting and life skills. His spiritual advisor Henry Meloux, a Midewiwin, an Anishinaabe medicine man patiently allows Cork to stumble to the edge of a precipice knowing full well that he will turn back in time.

Krueger newest book, "Ordinary Grace" is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2013. It is not part of the mystery series and is the story of a Methodist minister whose beloved child is murdered. The story takes place in a small town in southern Minnesota during the summer of 1961.

"It's the best thing I've ever written," said Krueger. "The real story is what that tragedy does to his (minister) faith, his family and ultimately the entire fabric of the small town."

But that book is forthcoming, this Monday the audience can listen to the next chapter in the life of the Corcoran family, the widowed Cork and his now scattered children.