Wednesday, October 18, 2023

How Did "The River We Remember" by William Kent Kruger End? What was the Twist?

How did "The River We Remember" by William Kent Kruger end? Have you finished reading "The River We Remember" and now you need to discuss *that* plot twist? Can you not remember how "The River We Remember" ends, or maybe you want to just skip to finding out the spoilers? Keep reading to discuss this historical fiction thriller and all of the twists and turns!

"Across the course of his whole life, Scott Madison would never forget the scene. It would play itself out in unexpected moments, in dreams and in nightmares, in those solitary reveries he couldn't share, in the parade of all his regrets." - The River We Remember, William Kent Kruger


Spoilers ahead!

The River We Remember 
by William Kent Kruger 
In 1958, a small Minnesota town is rocked by a shocking murder, pouring fresh fuel on old grievances in this dazzling novel, an instant New York Times bestseller and “a work of art” (The Denver Post).  On Memorial Day in Jewel, Minnesota, the body of wealthy landowner Jimmy Quinn is found floating in the Alabaster River, dead from a shotgun blast. The investigation falls to Sheriff Brody Dern, a highly decorated war hero who still carries the physical and emotional scars from his military service. Even before Dern has the results of the autopsy, vicious rumors begin to circulate that the killer must be Noah Bluestone, a Native American WWII veteran who has recently returned to Jewel with a Japanese wife. As suspicions and accusations mount and the town teeters on the edge of more violence, Dern struggles not only to find the truth of Quinn’s murder but also put to rest the demons from his own past. Caught up in the torrent of anger that sweeps through Jewel are a war widow and her adolescent son, the intrepid publisher of the local newspaper, an aging deputy, and a crusading female lawyer, all of whom struggle with their own tragic histories and harbor secrets that Quinn’s death threatens to expose. Both a complex, spellbinding mystery and a masterful portrait of mid-century American life that is “a novel to cherish” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis), The River We Remember offers an unflinching look at the wounds left by the wars we fight abroad and at home, a moving exploration of the ways in which we seek to heal, and a testament to the enduring power of the stories we tell about the places we call home. ( from

How Did "The River We Remember" by William Kent Kruger End?

What Are the Twists and Spoilers?

First and foremost, the most important question - who murdered Jimmy Quinn? 

Jimmy Quinn was murdered by his wife Marta. Marta confesses to the town lawyer, Charlie, that she found Jimmy with their daughter, Colleen. It is clear that he is planning on raping her, something Jimmy has a history of doing to women when his current wife is sick. When Marta finds them, she shoots Jimmy with the shotgun. She then calls upon her son, J.P., and Noah to help her clean up the scene. That's why there was incriminating evidence, the bloody tarp, at Noah's property. Side plot twist, Noah is actually J.P.'s father, not Jimmy!

Ultimately, the true murderer, Marta, does not face any legal consequences and most will continue to believe that Noah committed the murder. Charlie tells Marta that her secrets are safe with her.

What happened next? Well, A LOT!

Drunk and angry, Tyler Searcy goes to the Quinn's barn, lights it on fire, and shoots a shot from his shotgun. Everyone on the scene is not sure whether Searcy killed himself, someone left inside the barn, or if he escaped. The fire is extinguished, and as it turns out, Searcy escaped through the back and is still on the loose.

While the authorities are distracted by that scene, Searcy runs back to the Bluestone place and rapes Noah's wife, Kyoko. Brody returns to the jail to tell Noah what has happened to his wife and then agrees to let Noah Bluestone see Kyoko. 

While they are driving back to his cell, Noah claims that he is going to be sick and asks Brody to park the car. But this is actually a trick to get free from the sheriff. Noah strangles Brody, just a bit so that he can get loose, and then he heads to the river to try to find Searcy. The boys, Scott and Del, are also there trying to find Searcy, too. They all converge around the same time at the Alabaster River. Creasy shoots at Bluestone, and then Scott shoots Creasy to save Del. In the end, both of the young boys are safe, but Noah and Creasy are both deceased. 

Happy ending?

At the end of "The River We Remember", a small time jump occurs and Kyoto is leaving town. She leaves her land to J.P., showing that she knows J.P. to be Noah's son.

A larger time jump occurs and we find out how most of the main character's lives are spent, and for many how they end. For example, Scott becomes a lawyer and marries Holly. He also has a procedure done to fix his heart. Del joins the Army and loses his life in Vietnam. Angie and Brodie stay together, and many years later Brody passes away after falling off a roof. 

After Brody's passing, Angie finds a lock box with a ring inside labeled with Colleen Quinn's name. This ring was found on Jimmy Quinn after he was murdered. This note lets the reader know that although Brody never heard the confession from Marta, he connected the dots and knew that Noah Bluestone was not the murderer and that the ring was for Colleen from her father.  A sinister gift considering what Jimmy planned to do to Colleen.

And that's a wrap on "The River We Remember" by William Kent Kruger! Did I miss any twists? Comment below! Or tell me your favorite mystery set in a small town. Thanks for reading, readers!


Book Review (without spoilers ) of "The River We Remember" by William Kent Kruger


  1. What did Noah plan to do to Colleen?? Now I’m really confused?

    1. Agreed! Not to mention the write misspelled Kyoko's name as Kyoto.

  2. I think it was the writer’s comment that was wrong. It wasn’t Noah who planned to rape Colleen. It was Jimmy Quinn.

  3. What happened with the Garnet and Brody plot line? Brody having an affair with his sister-in-law?

  4. I think autocorrect has interchanged Creasy with Searcy in the initial plot description above

  5. Thank you for this information. I was listening to the book on Audible and fell asleep (not because it wasn’t good…just had a long week). Kept going back to listen but missed several important details, which you provided.


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