It's hard to beat a good pioneer story. You have people who are somewhat—or maybe completely—isolated by choice, facing a climate more harsh than any they had seen before, and still dealing with the challenges of being human in the development of family and community. The Killing Snow is a wonderful addition to pioneer literature. The characters are flawed—like other humans. In the very small community of Goss Valley, Dakota Territory, people are often thrown together with others they wouldn't have associated with back East, and either have to make the best of it, or not. Both courses have consequences.
The descriptions are lovely, and place the reader in the Dakota territory of the late 1880s, suffering through the extremes of winter and summer and relishing the beautiful days in between. A murder of a shunned immigrant by an reviled citizen would not be expected to polarize the community or weave itself into unrelated events, but it does because of the complex relationships among the characters. Hoing and Hileman do a great job of defining and elaborating the context of the times: a couple of decades after the Civil War, the height of immigration, the beginnings of modern technology (the post office gets a telephone but it is useless for the time being because no one else has one.) A wonderful and enjoyable read.
Roger was one of several music majors in our department and besides working full-time and writing, he plays in a couple of swing and jazz bands. He lives in Iowa City with his wife Lu and has three grown daughters. Dave lives in Waterloo and is a librarian at the University of Northern Iowa. He is also a musician, as well as an artist and writer. Besides his collaboration with Roger, he has penned several books on his own.