Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ordinary Grace, Reviewed

I have attempted here to review Ordinary Grace without giving too much away, though there is one spoiler. Perhaps I should just say it's one of the best mysteries I've read in years and you should all read it.

I always come to William Kent Krueger novels expecting to be instantly engrossed. A friend lent me Iron Lake years ago at a time when I was facing some serious surgery and as long as I had my eyes on the pages of that book the hospital stay to come was never a distraction. Even my husband’s observation that I would not understand the problems inherent in driving a truck across a frozen lake didn’t dent my enthusiasm. After the surgery any discomfort was kept at bay by a reading of Boundary Waters. Any author who can draw me out of my world into one that is totally unfamiliar has me as a lifelong fan.

Ordinary Grace is a wonderful novel and I was thrilled that it won an Edgar. Kreuger's rendering of the daily struggles of this family, of the natural world and the details of life in the 1960s (yes, I remember watching Disney's Wonderful World of Color on a black and white T.V. set) frame the action of the novel perfectly.

Frank Drum says as the novel opens, that though terrible things happened that summer he doesn't think of it as depressing. One of Kreuger's great gifts is his ability to make this novel and the things that happen in it both stark and cozy. Yes, tragedy strikes, but life goes on and people experience contentment and happiness again. (The scene in which Frank realizes he has not thought about his murdered sister all day and has actually laughed is perfection.)

If I have any quibble it's that Nathan Drum seemed a touch too good to be true. He gives off a faint whiff of Atticus Finch. But any novel that can remind you of To Kill a Mockingbird has a lot going for it.

© 2014 Stephanie Patterson


  1. Steph, excellent review... tjs

  2. Thanks! How wonderful it is to be carried away by a book. Ordinary Grace is on my list of books I must read.