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Author explains mystery writing to crowd

BEMIDJI - Eager readers of Kent Krueger's mystery series started to gather at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Bemidji Public Library and chairs were still being set up at the noon start of the author's presentation.

At the beginning of his talk, Krueger paid homage to librarians and how they are the keepers of the archives of our culture.

"Librarians guide us so we can come to understand better the world in which we live and ultimately ourselves," said Krueger. "I love doing library events"

One of the questions asked repeatedly is why his protagonist Cork O'Connor ages during the series, now numbering 11 books and the answer is two-fold. Krueger described his choice of using a "dynamic" protagonist Cork O'Connor because it is true to life; people grow older, face challenges and learn how to deal with the unexpected every day.

He added that he writes what he likes to read, and unless people age and change it does not seem real to him. For some authors like Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot characters, it works but not for most authors.

Krueger also said the answer is complex and intriguing.

"It was startling to me to realize that I used my stories to deal in an open public way those issues that are important to me," said Krueger. "When I start to write I already think I know the beginning and end of the story. When I was writing, "Blood Hollow," my fourth book, everything changed because my mother was dying.

""The summer that my daughter was 15-years old, drop dead gorgeous and testosterone was thick in the air lead to the story line in "Copper River." My daughter's adolescence turned out fine but some of her friends did not, so I wrote the story about the children we turn our backs on."

"Red Knife" confronts the issue of violence in our culture and how it is passed from generation to generation. It was written because of the Red Lake travesty at the behest of Krueger's publisher, but he leaves the reader wondering and thinking about the issue at the end of the book on purpose.

Krueger wants us to continue to think about violence and how it must be ended now for future generations.

Krueger's newest book, "Northwest Angle," is the latest in the saga of Cork's life as a widower and father of three children, each of whom are trying to recover from a devastating loss of wife and mother.

He used the Derecho (a hurricane like storm with straight line winds of up to 130 miles per hour) of 1999 that ripped through and devastated parts of the Boundary Waters. The locale is changed to that part of Minnesota that is the northern most part of the contiguous United States and is rife with international smuggling.

Krueger admitted that he likes to anchor a story in a place that is geographically real and the conflict drives great stories.

In this latest book, Cork becomes a grandfather, so he has aged about 10 years during the series. Krueger promises to write only until he is still enthusiastic about it and admits that one of the two upcoming mysteries slated to come out in August of 2012, "Trickster's Point," lets Krueger take pot shots at the people who choose to run for public office, "pols."

This Legacy event was sponsored by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.