There is an old expression - 'little jugs have big ears'. It's meant to admonish adults about speaking too freely around youngsters. Children listen and hear, watch and see, and yes, they can be surprisingly astute in their assessment of what's going on in their worlds.
This tale that William Kent Krueger has written takes that expression and plays it well. The year is 1961. It's summertime in the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota. Frank Drum, the middle child of the local minister, is set for a summertime of following baseball, playing outside in the woods and along the rail line that runs through New Bremen, swimming in the local quarry, and fishing alongside the Minnesota River. His wanderings will bring him into contact with a cast of characters that display the width and breadth of the human condition - love-starved, loving, misunderstood, twisted, cruel, damaged, wise, innocent, intuitive, bitter, haunted, passionate, and questing. All these characters become embroiled in a patchwork of death and mystery that Frank will witness and ponder for the rest of his life.
In fact, the story is told by Frank at a time much later. He looks back on that summer and unravels the events with a mature sense of God's grace bestowed. No spoilers here ... the only thing I will say is that I loved the relationship that Frank had with his younger brother and the growth and understanding that Frank displays toward Jake. In contemplating that relationship, I came to think that it is Jake who is the central character of the story, the conduit of a display of God's grace that is so humbling and so pure ... that's all I have to say other than I liked this book tremendously.