In the prologue to Prudence, the title character is found in a hotel bed in a “cathedral of blood.” From there, David Treuer nimbly unravels the events that led to her shocking death. Ten years earlier, in August 1942, Frankie Washburn has returned to his family’s Minnesota summer resort to say goodbye before heading off to the western front of World War II. He is greeted by a distant father, an overbearing mother, and Billy, his Ojibwe childhood friend, whom he can’t help but desire.
When Frankie and Billy join the search for an escaped German POW from the camp across the river, a gun goes off at the wrong time, killing an Indian woman and igniting a series of aftershocks that span a decade and two continents. Treuer’s writing is supple, his story intricate. That it’s set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous periods in history makes it all the more haunting and powerful.