I was first introduced to Minnesota author William Kent Krueger in northern Minnesota a number of years ago.
Well, I didn't actually meet him. I discovered his books.
It was in the small tourist town of Walker, located on the southwest shore of Leech Lake. Perhaps you've been there.
It was a rainy day, not fit for golf or fishing, both activities I only do during fair weather.
So, I succumbed to one of my wife's favorite sports shopping.
What I found was one of the largest little bookstores I had seen in quite a while. By that oxymoron, I mean there are much larger stores such as Barnes and Noble, but for a small store, it had a large inventory. It was quite impressive.
A book I stumbled across there was one titled "Boundary Waters," by William Kent Krueger. Being a fan of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) and having done my fair share of canoeing its many lakes and streams and portaging between them I bought the book.
And loved it.
So, I bought or borrowed a couple more of his books, discovered there was a whole series devoted to the same character and all set in the northern woods area of Minnesota. And now I have read most of them.
His main protagonist, Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor, is a former sheriff of the fictional Tamarack County. He resigned from being sheriff because of a shooting incident, but still is dragged back into crime/murder/kidnapping cases that happen in the north woods.
Cork is three quarters Irish and one quarter Ojibwe and a very interesting fellow. What I like about him is that he isn't perfect, has quite a few issues in his personal life, but seems like a pretty decent guy.
You'll have to read the books to find out more. I won't give away too much more of the plot lines. (I hate when people do that to me, so I won't do it to you.)
I have often over the years recommended Krueger's novels to book reading friends of mine, telling them how much I have enjoyed reading books by this Minnesota author.
Now for the rest of the story.
On Thursday night I actually had the opportunity to meet Krueger in person. And it happened in, of all places, Winnebago a far distance from northern Minnesota and the BWCA.
As you may have read in last week's Faribault County Register, a group of three Minnesota mystery authors, calling themselves the "Minnesota Crime Wave," came to the Muir Library in Winnebago for a one-hour program. For an avid mystery book reader like me, it was an opportunity not to be missed.
When I went there, I wondered if I might not be one of only a handful of mystery book fans to attend. After all, it was a beautiful summer evening in Minnesota, one that is hard not to be enjoying outdoors.
But, I was pleasantly surprised to see the library was full of people and it was standing room only.
Apparently there are a lot of Corcoran O'Connor fans in southern Minnesota.
It was a great evening of hearing three witty authors talk about their craft and how they write their novels. The audience also had the chance to ask questions and they did. I was impressed with the quality of the questions and, of course, the interesting answers.
Then afterwards those in attendance had a chance to meet the trio and visit with them one-on-one and, of course, buy copies of their books and have them autographed.
Many people did.
That is one of the aims of these three authors, obviously to sell their books. But, they say it is actually a great way to get out and visit with the people who are buying and reading their books and talk to them about the books. They enjoy getting out of the Twin Cities and traveling around to small towns.
They formed this venture 12 years ago. And their "Minnesota Crime Wave" is an actual business partnership.
I'm impressed they do this. And I'm glad Muir Library librarian Heidi Schutt was able to line them up to come to Winnebago.
For a book junkie like me, it made for a pretty cool time on a warm summer's evening.