Hey, readers. One of the things I like about William Kent Krueger’s books is the vivid descriptions he uses throughout the stories. He paints pictures with his words, sometimes in the titles. While I knew vermillion is a shade of red-orange, I didn’t get the significance of the word “drift” until I began reading.
This is the tenth book of the Cork O’Connor series, and once again the author didn’t disappoint.
When the Department of Energy puts an underground iron mine on its short list of potential sites for storage of nuclear waste, a barrage of protests erupts in Tamarack County, Minnesota, and Cork is hired as a security consultant.
Deep in the mine during his first day on the job, Cork stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims. Five appear to be nearly half a century old—connected to what the media once dubbed “The Vanishings,” a series of unsolved disappearances in the summer of 1964, when Cork’s father was sheriff in Tamarack County. But the sixth has been dead less than a week. What’s worse, two of the bodies—including the most recent victim—were killed using Cork’s own gun, one handed down to him from his father.
As Cork searches for answers, he must dig into his own past and that of his father, a well-respected man who harbored a ghastly truth. Time is running out, however. New threats surface, and unless Cork can unravel the tangled thread of clues quickly, more death is sure to come.
Vermilion Drift is a powerful novel, filled with all the mystery and suspense for which Krueger has won so many awards. A poignant portrayal of the complexities of family life, it’s also a sobering reminder that even those closest to our hearts can house the darkest—and deadliest—of secrets.
Cork O’Connor is at a crossroads in life. His daughters are away in college, his son is visiting a family friend in Texas, and the loss of his beloved wife, Jo, is still fresh.
Max Cavanaugh, the owner of Great North Mines, hires Cork to investigate threats made to him in protest of allowing the Department of Energy potential plans to store nuclear waste in one of Cavanaugh’s abandoned mines. Unrelated to that investigation, Max also asks Cork to find his missing sister. What follows is a possible connection with a series of women who went missing decades earlier. Locals refer to it as “The Vanishings.”
Vermillion Drift blends both past and present. We learn more about Cork’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. As he struggles to remember certain things about that time, he seeks advice from Henry Meloux.
Like other books of the series, Krueger weaves a tale of suspense, blended with bits of the Ojibwe culture that makes readers want to keep turning the pages. There is a bit more darkness to this book than the others, without gruesome details. Overall, this is a great read.