Book Review: ”Fox Creek: A Novel” by William Kent Krueger

You hear footsteps.

If it’s not a dark and stormy night and you’re not alone, that’s probably okay. You might even anticipate it, if you’re leading a group, strolling with a friend, or walking in public. Most times, you probably don’t notice the soft sound of footfalls – but what if, as in the new novel “Fox Creek” by William Kent Krueger, the footsteps aren’t following? 

What if they’re chasing? 

Cork O’Connor was used to people asking him for help. Born in Tamarack County, Minnesota, he’d been sheriff there once, and he knew everybody. So when a man he didn’t know, some Lou Morriseau, asked about Henry Meloux, it raised Cork’s eyebrows.

He didn’t like this stranger. Morriseau claimed that his wife, Delores, was with Henry, and he wanted her to come home – but he was wrong on two points: Henry was a Mide, a healer in the Anishinaabe community, and he must’ve been at least a hundred years old. He was no meddler or wife-stealer. And later, when Cork showed Delores a picture he’d quietly taken of Morriseau, she said he wasn’t her husband. She’d never seen the guy before.

She said that a day or two before she disappeared into the northwoods, along with Cork’s wife, Rainy, and Henry Meloux…

Calling himself LeLoup – or, “The Wolf” – a man quietly paddled to the lakeside and hid his kayak; Kimball, an ex-soldier he’d known since Iraq, hired him to do a job and LeLoup would see it through, one way or another. He’d find this Delores woman who was trekking around in the northwoods and he’d return her to Kimball, who never said why he wanted her. If she was with Henry, finding her wouldn’t be hard; LeLoup had spent his whole life in the woods and he could read them just as well as the old man he was trailing. 

As long as he could stay one step ahead of the men who were trailing him, LeLoup would find the Mide and bring back that woman. 

Even if he had to kill to do it.

You know the screamy feeling you get when you breathlessly wake up, shocked from one of those chase dreams? Well, buckle up for the same, double-time, inside “Fox Creek.”

Indeed, author William Kent Krueger takes a normal Boundary Waters cat-and-mouse tale and he throws in a rat of a different sort in a gasping plot twist: Krueger’s most gentle, beloved recurring character, Henry Meloux, has finally met his match. While this launches a tale that literally walks readers all around northern Minnesota, it, too, serves double-duty. Krueger uses the land he loves, the trees and waters, rocks, and lichens as backdrop to a sometimes-spiritual, sometimes-new-agey life-or-death situation, a fine whodunit, and a real-life terror that Krueger ultimately says lurks between his lines.

Find out more in the author’s note, but don’t read it early or you’ll spoil the novel for yourself. Keep it for the end of “Fox Creek” and first enjoy a story that’ll keep you on your toes.

c.2022, Atria $28.00 400 pages