The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger

Read Time:3 Minute, 16 Second

On Memorial Day in Jewel, Minnesota, amidst the commemoration of fallen soldiers, wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is discovered dead in the Alabaster River. Sheriff Brody Dern, a war hero haunted by his past, investigates. Rumors point to Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran with a Japanese wife. Tensions escalate, threatening violence. Amidst this turmoil, a war widow, a newspaper publisher, an aging deputy, and a lawyer grapple with their secrets. “The River We Remember” is a riveting mystery and a poignant portrayal of mid-20th-century America, delving into war’s scars and the healing power of storytelling in our cherished hometowns.

Book review of The River We Remember

“The River We Remember” by William Kent Krueger offers a poignant glimpse into the racial prejudices and deep-rooted secrets of 1958 small-town America. As someone who lived through that era, the narrative resonates with a sense of nostalgia for simpler times, while also serving as a reminder that human flaws and “badness in their hearts” have persisted over the years. Krueger expertly weaves together a compelling drama, highlighting the complexities of adult problems, prejudices, and the lasting impact of war on individuals like Sheriff Brody Dern.

The book’s portrayal of law enforcement is commendable, showcasing their dedication to duty while humanizing them with their own struggles. Krueger’s storytelling prowess shines through as he unravels a mysterious crime spree, keeping readers engaged and guessing until the satisfying conclusion.

One standout aspect is the well-crafted cast of characters, each battling their inner demons and adding depth to the narrative. The storyline delves into themes of racial injustice and hatred rooted in ignorance, evoking a range of emotions from sadness to anger, ultimately offering a glimmer of hope. Sheriff Dern’s journey, coupled with the revelation of Angie’s own history, demonstrates the power of mutual sharing and healing.

Krueger’s ability to captivate readers with his storytelling remains intact in this unique and thought-provoking novel. While his previous works have followed a familiar formula, “The River We Remember” distinguishes itself with a fresh setting and a narrative that stands on its own. The book’s ability to evoke a desire for the story to continue while recognizing its rightful conclusion attests to its greatness.

Final verdict

In a world where racial conflicts persist, this book serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and the enduring human spirit. Sheriff Dern’s courageous journey, intertwined with the town’s ethnic conflicts, both subtle and violent, paints a vivid picture of the complexities of small-town life, old scars, healing, and the resiliency of human nature. William Kent Krueger has delivered an epic tale that will linger in the minds of readers, inviting them to sit back, relax, and embark on the flowing journey of the Alabaster River time and time again.

Our Score


  • “The River We Remember” offers well-drawn, relatable characters battling their inner demons. Their complexity adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative.
  • The book delves into themes of racial prejudice, hatred, and ignorance, providing a thought-provoking exploration of these issues within the context of small-town life in 1958.
  • William Kent Krueger’s storytelling prowess shines through, keeping readers captivated with a mysterious crime spree and a satisfying conclusion that leaves a lasting impact.


  • While the pacing and tension are effective, they may feel familiar to readers who have experienced Krueger’s other works, potentially lacking a sense of novelty.
  • The book heavily relies on emotional engagement, which may not resonate equally with all readers. Those seeking a more action-oriented plot might find it lacking.
  • While the book ties up loose ends satisfactorily, some readers might have preferred a series or further exploration of the characters and setting, making it a one-off stand-alone novel.
The River We RememberPublisher ‏ : ‎ Atria Books (September 5, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 432 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 198217921X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982179212
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches

About Article Author

Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill has worked in the publishing industry for more than 15 years for both international and national media. When he is not reading, he enjoys spending time with his three dogs, whom he considers his most loyal reading companions.
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