when the ice melts

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Every story needs a hook, and for Laurentian Divide it's the question of what happened to Rauri Paar, the odd man who winters alone on his island. His appearance heralds the true return of spring to the residents of Hatchet Inlet. But the answer to that question is not nearly as interesting as the stories of the people who are asking it. There's: the widower who's about to marry the woman nearly 20 years his junior (they're deeply in love); his son, the veterinarian who's also a recovering alcoholic; and his fiancee, who's dealing with a mother with major dementia and reeling from the loss of her neice, who was killed in a drunk driving accident. These are the people who tell the story, of their past and their present, that color the book in shades of ice blue and the green of new buds.

Unlike other books small-town books, I never got a sense of the town itself, although the larger scenery of Minnesota on the Canadian border comes through vividly (it may have helped that I was there not long ago). As for what happened to Rauri Paar, the answer is appropriately anticlimactic, serving to satisfy the the curiosity of both reader and town, without overshadowing the characters the reader has come to identify with. The revelation also allows the book to come to a graceful, natural ending. I was pleased to learn that this is the second book in a planned trilogy, although it can be read alone; I'll almost certainly pick up the first one, and I'll be looking for the third when it comes out.