Clouded Waters: A Novel

Clouded Waters: A Novel

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In the far north, as water defenders and pro-mining forces clash, the publisher of a struggling newspaper unearths a corrupt conspiracy.

Near Iron, Minnesota, waters split along a three-way divide, carrying minerals and contaminants to Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. Susan B. Ellingson (SB to those who know her) runs a small paper with the help of her best friend and a part-time staff. When a mining company seeks a permit to dig for copper and nickel and store potentially harmful mining waste nearby, SB commits to covering the story.

It isn't easy. She wrestles with financial stress and personal pain. Her dead wife lingers in spirit. Their children have grown and left home, and SB's Labrador provides sweet but insufficient company. 

Her mother-in-law leads a group of Ojibwe and Métis grandmothers fighting to protect the water, and after an intriguing new woman comes to town, SB isn't sure how to feel or act. After a fiery environmentalist informs her that a local water scientist has gone missing, she follows a trail of evidence from a tiny, off-grid community into a global tangle of lies, corruption, whistleblowing, and danger.


“More than just a whodunit, Dianna Hunter’s compelling new novel, Clouded Waters, takes us deep into the Minnesota north country, where the combustible mix of environmental values and the needs of business and local employment vie with each other, producing hot-blooded emotions with deadly results. Combining both mystery and romance, Hunter gives us a story that speaks to many of the deepest divisions in America today. Highly recommended.”—Ellen Hart, author of the Jane Lawless Mystery Series 

"Clouded Waters is Dianna Hunter's first novel but so well made you'd think she'd been writing them all her life. Set in a small city on Minnesota's Iron Range, the story revolves around the conflict between an international corporation's desire to open a copper-nickel mine versus the will of a local newspaper's publisher to tell the whole truth to her community. Right alongside this fraught storyline, Hunter runs multiple other lines of suspense: family grief and friction, a missing person, a new woman in town, and more. The miracle is that Hunter handles all these issues at least as well as her main character handles the reins of her horse. Everything is deftly dramatized. The style is fresh and clean. Few mystery novels raise questions as significant and beautifully put as this one: 'In a universe where stars eat other stars and whole solar systems slide into black holes, what chance did love have?' "--Bart Sutter, author of My Father's War: Stories of Midwestern Men  

“I’ve been familiar with Dianna Hunter’s work since her graduate school days. She writes a direct but evocative prose laced with dry humor and is committed to combining social issues with personal relationships. In Clouded Waters, she has brought these skills to a new level, weaving romance, mystery and the issues of mining in the Iron Range, including its effect on Indigenous people. Bravo.”--Linda Morganstein, author of MY LIFE WITH STELLA KANE  

"[Dianna] Hunter’s debut novel weaves mystery, romance, and social justice into a beautifully written page-turner. Recommend to fans of Annie Proulx."--Lindsay Harmon, BOOKLIST 

“The editor of a small-town newspaper on Minnesota’s Iron Range fearlessly pursues uncomfortable truths when a company wants to build a copper mine. The gigantic pits and steep tailings piles of iron mines are an accepted part of the landscape, but editor SB is concerned about the serious potential risks of mining for copper here. As she pursues answers to a mysterious disappearance, she’s led down unknown paths and confronts some terrifying moments. The story weaves disparate elements of northern Minnesota’s culture and history, sympathetically portraying the attitudes of those who desperately want jobs and those who want to protect the water in this rugged region. It explores relationships that go back generations, appreciates the peaceful contributions of native people, and cherishes the deep connections among women. As a neighbor of the quirky characters who populate the Iron Range, I’m delighted that a writer of Hunter’s sensitivity and style has presented them in this highly readable story.”--Stephanie Hemphill, Co-editor, Agate Magazine

About the Author

Dianna Hunter is the author of two nonfiction books, Wild Mares: My Lesbian Back-to-the-Land Life (University of Minnesota Press) and Breaking Hard Ground: Stories of the Minnesota Farm Advocates (Holy Cow! Press). Both were finalists for the Minnesota Book Award. Her short fiction, journalism, essays, and book reviews have appeared in national and regional publications, including the In These Times Rural America blog, the Rural Women's Studies Association blog, Peregrine, Feminist Collections, Hurricane Alice, and Earth Matters. A former farmer and retired teacher of writing and women's studies, she currently writes, gardens, and forages in the rocky green spaces of Duluth, Minnesota, where she lives with her wife, Deb.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Holy Cow! Press; First Edition (October 10, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 282 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1737405164
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1737405160
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 13.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

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