William Kent Kreuger
Pocket, Mar 2001, 23.95, 368 pp.
Near Aurora, Minnesota, a major environmental-industrial dispute exists. The Anishinaabe tribe wants the two hundred acres of great white pines that are sacred to them as "Old Grandfathers" protected from the lumber industry. Karl Lindstrom's lumber mill resides on the edge of the forest and he is not known for his conservation methods. As is the case in many local arguments, outsiders come marching in to join the Native American protesting the cutting down of the trees.
However, all hell breaks loose when someone blows up the mill, killing a Native American employee. The industrial moguls blame the Anishinaabe tribe and the law agrees even though someone named the Eco-Warrior claims credit for the deed. Though he lost his job as sheriff a couple of years ago, Cork O'Connor, at the pleading of his wife Jo, the tribe attorney, begins to search for the identity of the terrorist. As he conducts the search, the Eco-Warrior adds kidnapping and ransom demands to his crime list.
PURGATORY RIDGE is an exciting ecological thriller that keeps the suspense and action at high levels throughout the tale. When the story concentrates on the central theme of conservation vs. development, the plot is as good as it gets. In those circumstances, all the key characters seem genuine in their beliefs. When the story line spins into sidebars like the ransom kidnapping it appears as if a plot device has been used to add unnecessary tension to an already strong novel. Award winning William Kent Kreuger has written a one-sitting tale that will send sub-genre fans off to read the previous O'Connor books (see BOUNDARY WATERS and IRON LAKE).
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner