Publishers Weekly Review
Best known for the Cork O'Connor mystery series, Krueger (Trickster's Point) has produced an elegiac, evocative, stand-alone novel. The summer of 1961 finds thirteen-year-old Frank Drum living in small-town New Bremen, Minn. He and his younger brother, Jake, idolize their older sister, Ariel, a talented church organist who's also the "golden child" of their parents, WWII veteran and Methodist pastor Nathan and church music director Ruth. Nathan and Ruth befriend the accomplished musician Emil Brandt, a veteran left blinded by his service, who tutors Ariel in her music education. Meanwhile, Jake, who has a stutter, forms a close bond with Lise, Emil's deaf older sister and caretaker, while Ariel dates Emil's wealthy nephew, Karl. The Drums' peaceful existence is shattered, however, when Ariel fails to return from a late-night party. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Karl comes under suspicion, Ruth undergoes a crisis of faith, and dark secrets about New Bremen come to light. The small-town milieu is rendered in picturesque detail, accurate down to period-appropriate TV programs, for what becomes a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
Krueger, the author of the best-selling Cork O'Connor mysteries, largely set in Minnesota, has written a stand-alone novel that is part mystery but mostly an extended (and often overly extended) meditation. The narrator, Frank Drum, writes as a middle-age man looking back on a summer in 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota, when he was 13; the Minnesota Twins were in their first season; and death, in five different instances, shook his family and their community in the Minnesota River valley. The first death is that of Frank's sometime friend Bobby Cole. The proximate cause was a train, but the mystery is whether Bobby stood in front of that train, or was pushed or placed there. More deaths follow, one of which rips apart Frank's family. This coming-of-age story is obviously an attempt to show how grace can work through the fissures of suffering. While the setting is well rendered, the characters are too flat, and Krueger keeps striking the same monologist's meditative note throughout, while most readers will long for variety in style.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist