By Amy Doeun
Scout and Morgan Books of Cambridge hosted an “Into the Evening” event with William Kent Krueger at Chucker’s in Rush City Aug. 24.
Over 100 people attended the event, which focused on Krueger’s new book, “Sulfur Springs.” “Sulfur Springs” is the 16th book in the Corcoran O’Connor mystery series and Krueger’s 18th book.
Sheri Olson used to own Reading Frenzy Bookstore in Zimmerman. Currently, Olson is working with Judith Kissner, owner of Scout and Morgan. Kissner said that while she usually introduces the authors, she would allow Olson to do it.
Olson shared a story about when Krueger conducted a reading at her bookstore years ago. It was an “off site reading at a local restaurant.”
“I remember picking up my first book of his, “Northwest Angle,” Olson said. “I got mid book and remember flipping through those pages as fast as I could to find out what would happen. “
She went on to say that her bookstore was decorated with a children’s corner complete with dog house. It was a tradition at the store that the authors would pose in the doghouse for a picture. A couple weeks before the Krueger event, she had a children’s author doing a reading. “This children’s author didn’t like the idea and she said, ‘You wouldn’t make William Kent Krueger take a picture in the dog house.’ I mentioned this to him at our off site event and he offered to come back to the bookstore and take a picture in the dog house.”
Olson brought the picture to Chucker’s to share with everyone.
Krueger laughed and said he remembered that reading.
“One of the things I love about this business is you make so many good friends,” he said.
Many of Krueger’s books take place in the Northwoods of Minnesota, though his main character, Cork, has traveled to the Upper Penisula of Michigan, the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Thunder Bay, Canada. But for “Sulfur Springs,” the landscape changes drastically—to southern Arizona.
Cork is a man of mixed heritage—Ojibway and Irish. Ojibway culture has always featured heavily in Krueger’s books, but in southern Arizona there is a different cultural makeup.
“There is this amazing mixture of cultures — Mexican, cowboy, Native American — all coming together in this bubbling witche’s brew,” he said.
Krueger said he also likes to infuse his books with a topic of social interest.
“I have had so many soap boxes in my books,” Krueger said with a ready laugh.
His books have tackled topics such as mining, drugs and gangs infiltrating reservation life, sex trafficking of vulnerable native women and girls, treaty gaming and fishing rights.
For this book he focuses on “the bitter conflict that is going on now along the border.”
“Thematically, I am talking about this great wall that we are supposed to be building that is supposed to solve all our problems,” he said. “All of those forces in conflict. It is an important issue in our society today, so thematically I am passionate about it. Southern Arizona is an amazing place.”
He admits though, “When I set my story there I didn’t know that much about it. But that was where the border conflict is. I had all these expectations about it (Arizona in July) and at first it met my expectations.”
July 2016 found Krueger, his wife Diane and 11 year old grandson in southern Arizona where he discovered something interesting he would not have known if he had not actually been there.
“In July, they have this meteorological event that they call the monsoons. Most of the rain for the entire year comes in the month of July.”
Every afternoon the skies fill with clouds, and the air is filled with flashes of lightning and the rumbles of thunder.
Krueger took his grandson on all the interviews he conducted for the book from on-duty border patrol agents to nonprofits leaving supplies in the desert for refugees. In every case, Krueger said he felt his grandson’s presence eased the minds of those he was interviewing.
No. 17 in the series is already written and will hopefully be out next August. The title is “Desolation Mountain.”