In this prequel, 12-year old Cork O’Connor is on the cusp of young manhood . . . As he and a friend are hiking in a remote area working to obtain Boy Scout Merit Badges, they discover the body of Big John Many Deeds, a respected Native from the nearby Iron Lake Anishinaabe Reservation. On the surface, the death looks like a suicide, but Cork’s dad, Sheriff Liam O’Connor, is determined to find the truth behind Big John’s death. However doing so is not easy because many of the white townspeople of Aurora, Minnesota believe that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. In addition there is a lack of cooperation from the native people who don’t trust whites, despite Liam’s marriage to a woman who is one half Anishinaabe. His investigation leads to one of the wealthiest residents of Aurora, who is a descendant of the town’s founder, and a young native runaway girl, and inadvertently puts Cork in mortal danger.
This was an excellent coming-of-age story set in the stark beauty of the Boundary Waters, told with respect for the native beliefs and spirituality.