Iron Lake

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A sister-recommended book. I think she likes books set in Minnesota. This one's way up toward Canada, north of Duluth.

The protagonist is "Cork" O'Connor, and as the present-day part of the book opens, he's in a bad way. Thanks to a tragic incident (eventually detailed) over which he presided as sheriff, he's now ex-sheriff. And he's moved into a barely-heated quonset-hut burger joint, due to his lawyer wife Jo asking him to leave his house, her, and their kids.

Although he's not in official law enforcement any more, Cork is asked by a local mother to track down her son, who went missing on his paper route during a nasty snowstorm. Thanks to a previous chapter, we know that the kid has witnessed a horrific and bloody scene at the house of Judge Robert Parrant.

Cork is of partial Native American descent, and there's a bit of his tribe's mythos dragged in. Specifically, the wendigo, an evil spirit. Could that help explain what happened to the judge? Yes, it turns out, sort of. In the sense that ancient supernatural legends often speak to universal human frailties and capacity for awful deeds.

There's a host of characters, most candidates for suspicion: the parish priest, an ambitious politician, Cork's semi-competent replacement, Cork's girlfriend, a coroner out of his depth, etc. There's a casino (where there are Native Americans, there always seem to be casinos) and that means criminal corruption.

I'm iffy about the series. Slight spoiler: the big climax here goes on way too long, involves our hero being not very smart or well-prepared, and I I think the author is unnecessarily vague about what happens at the very end. (What exactly did that shot hit?) Ah, well. It's a page-turner anyway. For wilderness noir, I think I'll stick with C. J. Box.