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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The River We Remember

Narrator: CJ Wilson

Simon & Schuster Audio

ISBN: 978-1982179212

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: 09/05/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

In 1958, a small Minnesota town is rocked by the murder of its most powerful citizen, pouring fresh fuel on old grievances in this dazzling standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the “expansive, atmospheric American saga” (Entertainment Weekly) This Tender Land.

On Memorial Day, as the people of Jewel, Minnesota gather to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many sons in the wars of the past, the half-clothed body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. Investigation of the murder falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who still carries the physical and emotional scars from his military service. Even before Dern has the results of the autopsy, vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran who has recently returned to Jewel with a Japanese wife. As suspicions and accusations mount and the town teeters on the edge of more violence, Dern struggles not only to find the truth of Quinn’s murder but also put to rest the demons from his own past.

Caught up in the torrent of anger that sweeps through Jewel are a war widow and her adolescent son, the intrepid publisher of the local newspaper, an aging deputy, and a crusading female lawyer, all of whom struggle with their own tragic histories and harbor secrets that Quinn’s death threatens to expose.

Both a complex, spellbinding mystery and a masterful portrait of midcentury American life from an author of novels “as big-hearted as they come” (Parade), The River We Remember is an unflinching look at the wounds left by the wars we fight abroad and at home, a moving exploration of the ways in which we seek to heal, and a testament to the enduring power of the stories we tell about the places we call home.

My Review

If you pick up a William Kent Krueger novel, you are in for a rare treat, so settle in and leave the world behind for a while, as you will be swept away, forgetting about time and other matters of concern —from this master storyteller.

THE RIVER WE REMEMBER is another gem to add to your WKK list. His characters come alive on the page and take you back to 1958, in a small Minnesota town where a murder takes place and one of its own with plenty of regrets and dark secrets—exploring the prejudices and complexities of post-WWII America.

Memorial Day, Jewel, Minnesota. The town gathers to honor those who served and sacrificed. The book starts with Herman finding the murdered wealthy landowner, Jimmy Quinn, left floating in the Alabaster River near the bridge from a shotgun blast. Murder or accidental?

Sherriff 'Brody' Dern (35) is a war hero with emotional scars from his time in the military with his sidekick, Golden retriever, Hector. At the time, Brody had one prisoner at the time he was overseeing, Felix, in county jail.

There is an autopsy; however, before the results, rumors are flying. They all say it must be Noah Bluestone, A native American WWI veteran who recently returned with his Japanese wife, Kyoto Bluestone., a Japanese survivor of Nagasaki. Then Brody finds himself in the middle, fighting the violence in the town while dealing with his demons.

The Dakota Sioux Indian is arrested for his murder. Noah Bluestone, along with his Japanese wife, had been recently fired by Jimmy Quinn. Along the way, many others in the small town are deeply affected by the prejudice surrounding the Bluestones. Brody is on the fence because no one liked Jimmy.

With other characters, the widow, Marta, and son, Patrick (JP), and other children, the publisher of the local newspaper (Sam Wicklow)—the Black Earth County Clarion, the aging Deputy Fielding, Doc Porter, Garnet, Charlie, a female lawyer with regrets — struggling with their respective traumas, and dark secrets that Quinn's death threatens to expose. The demons of, if only.

THE RIVER WE REMEMBER is engrossing, complex, beautifully written, and multi-layered. An exploration of the midcentury American life of those scared by war, PTSD, regrets, plagued by demons, and hardships on their journey to justice, healing, kindness, forgiveness, and redemption.

We find hatred, anger, racism, violence, rape, and people who are judgmental, dishonest, and unfaithful. With vivid descriptions, the author explores all the emotions with well-developed characters that come alive on the page. As always, beautiful quotes, symbolisms of rivers, and masterful, skillful storytelling!

Stories go on, and the river continues to flow. This book is powerful and thought-provoking. The characters will linger long after the book ends. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions. A must-read!

Thanks to Atria Books for a gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: Sept 5, 2023


“The River We Remember may be his magnum opus…deeply moving…intimate and epic in equal measure.”

—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Absorbing. . . combines nostalgic settings with depictions of the lingering hardships and traumas of war and the home front . . . in the decade after WWII.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“Historical fiction that resonates with our time makes for a great reading experience—especially when it’s done in the literary style of rich, careful language; realistic evocation of place; and deep exploration into character. William Kent Krueger has delivered just this combination in his latest standalone novel, The River We Remember.”

—New York Journal of Books

About the Author

William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of The River We Remember, This Tender Land, Ordinary Grace (winner of the Edgar Award for best novel), and the original audio novella The Levee, as well as nineteen acclaimed books in the Cork O’Connor mystery series, including Lightning Strike and Fox Creek. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family. Learn more at







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