Extraordinary stories can be presented in the simplest of gift wrap. Perhaps it's brown paper. Or the Comics section from the newspaper. A wrapping that gives the reader no indication as to what is waiting inside.
But when I hear the name William Kent Krueger, I think of Minnesota and his major protagonist Cork O'Connor. I think about murder and intense investigation. I visualize Mr. Krueger's spot-on descriptions of nature's beauty in small-town Minnesota. It would be a story wrapped in intense colors.
But his new novel, 'Ordinary Grace' was not what I expected from him. I was truly moved by the story, and memories of my own childhood came flooding back.
Written in his trademark style, the story is simply told, full of memories of a small town in the sixties, when the nation was welcoming a young president. A time when kids could play outside after dark. When ice cream was a reward for good behavior. A time before the internet stole children's innocence.
But every era has crime, and the young narrator of this story, with his younger brother, set out to discover just who murdered three people. It's not full of guns and violence and police.
Instead, it's full of families in crisis, the courage of finding strength in simple faith, and secrets the boys cannot possibly understand until they are hit square in the face with the knowledge.
Tragedy comes calling in the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota. Thirteen-year-old Frank Drum and his younger brother, Jake (who suffers from a stuttering problem), find themselves pulled out of their simple boyhood and thrust into a situation they are not equipped to understand. Their father, a Methodist minister, and their mother, brilliant, beautiful and talented, have raised their sons and their college-bound daughter in the best way they know how: with a simple faith. But this faith is tested when murder takes the lives of three people. The boys find their world torn asunder, but it is only through honesty and courage that they are able to hold onto the last vestige of their precious youth.
Full of adultery, betrayal, and secrets, 'Ordinary Grace' is written in a simple style, yet the impact is enormous.
It is that unexpected gift wrapped in the simplest of paper.
'Ordinary Grace' will be published by Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) in March 2013.