William Kent Krueger

Bestselling Novelist & Mystery Writer
Minnesota Book Award
Travels from: Minneapolis, MN

“Kent is so down to earth, outgoing, can talk with anyone (and he does) funny, engaging, charismatic, adaptable, attentive, considerate, energetic and the list could go on and on!” – New Castle County Reads

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He currently makes his living as a full-time author. He’s been married for over 40 years to a marvelous woman who is a retired attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last nine novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. The companion novel, This Tender Land, was published in September 2019, and spent nearly six months in the top ten of the New York Times bestseller list. His most recent novel, Lightning Strike, was released in August of 2021.

Prepare an Invitation for:

Lightning Strike: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #18)

Atria Books |
Fiction
An instant New York Times bestseller, this prequel to the acclaimed Cork O’Connor series is “a pitch perfect, richly imagined story that is both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and an evocative, emotionally charged coming-of-age tale” (Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author) about fathers and sons, small-town conflicts, and the events that shape our lives forever.

Aurora is a small town nestled in the ancient forest alongside the shores of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. In the summer of 1963, it is the whole world to twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor, its rhythms as familiar as his own heartbeat. But when Cork stumbles upon the body of a man he revered hanging from a tree in an abandoned logging camp, it is the first in a series of events that will cause him to question everything he took for granted about his hometown, his family, and himself.

Cork’s father, Liam O’Connor, is Aurora’s sheriff and it is his job to confirm that the man’s death was the result of suicide, as all the evidence suggests. In the shadow of his father’s official investigation, Cork begins to look for answers on his own. Together, father and son face the ultimate test of choosing between what their heads tell them is true and what their hearts know is right.

In this “brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate” (Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author), beloved novelist William Kent Krueger shows that some mysteries can be solved even as others surpass our understanding.

This Tender Land: A Novel

Atria Books |
Fiction

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

“If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love This Tender Land…This story is as big-hearted as they come.” —Parade

A magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Desolation Mountain: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #17)

Atria Books |
Fiction

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Edgar Award-winning author William Kent Krueger delivers another heart-pounding thriller filled with “dynamic action scenes” (The New York Times) as Cork O’Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the death of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

To Stephen O’Connor, Hamlet’s dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen. The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen’s worst fears.

Stephen joins his father, Cork O’Connor and a few Ojibwe men from the nearby Iron Lake reservation to sift through the smoldering wreckage when the FBI arrives and quickly assumes control of the situation. As he initiates his own probe, Cork stumbles upon a familiar face in Bo Thorson, a private security consultant whose unnamed clients have hired him to look quietly into the cause of the crash. The men agree to join forces in their investigation, but soon Cork begins to wonder if Thorson’s loyalties lie elsewhere.

Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, Cork, Stephen, and Bo finally understand that to get to the truth, they will have to face the great menace, a beast of true evil lurking in the woods—a beast with a murderous intent of unimaginable scale. Krueger delivers yet another “punch-to-the-gut blend of detective story and investigative fiction” (Booklist, starred review).

Manitou Canyon: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #15)

Atria Books |
Fiction

In the extraordinary new Cork O’Connor thriller from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author William Kent Krueger, the lives of hundreds of innocent people are at stake when Cork vanishes just days before his daughter’s wedding.

Since the violent deaths of his wife, father, and best friend all occurred in previous Novembers, Cork O’Connor has always considered it to be the cruelest of months. Yet, his daughter has chosen this dismal time of year in which to marry, and Cork is understandably uneasy.

His concern comes to a head when a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing. As the official search ends with no recovery in sight, Cork is asked by the man’s family to stay on the case. Although the wedding is fast approaching and the weather looks threatening, he accepts and returns to that vast wilderness.

As the sky darkens and the days pass, Cork’s family anxiously awaits his return. Finally certain that something has gone terribly wrong, they fly by floatplane to the lake where the missing man was last seen. Locating Cork’s campsite, they find no sign of him. They do find blood, however. A lot of it.

With an early winter storm on the horizon, it’s a race against time as Cork’s family struggles to uncover the mystery behind these disappearances. Little do they know, not only is Cork’s life on the line, but so are the lives of hundreds of others.

Windigo Island: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #14)

Atria Books |
Fiction

Cork O’Connor battles vicious villains, both mythical and modern, to rescue a young girl in the latest nail-biting mystery from New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the work of a deadly mythical beast, the Windigo, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu. Such stories have been told by the Ojibwe people for generations, but they don’t explain how the girl and her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, disappeared a year ago. At the request of the Arceneaux family, Cork O’Connor, former sheriff turned private investigator, takes on the case.

But on the Bad Bluff reservation, nobody’s talking. Still, Cork puts enough information together to find a possible trail. He learns that the old port city of Duluth is a modern-day center for sex trafficking of vulnerable women, many of whom are young Native Americans. As the investigation deepens, so does the danger.

Yet Cork holds tight to his higher purpose—his vow to find Mariah, an innocent fifteen-year-old girl whose family is desperate to get her back. With only the barest hope of saving her from men whose darkness rivals that of the legendary Windigo, Cork prepares for an epic battle that will determine whether it will be fear, or love, that truly conquers all.

Ordinary Grace: A Novel

Atria Books |
Fiction

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
WINNER OF THE 2014 DILYS AWARD
A SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013

From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger, a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Northwest Angle: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #11)

Atria Books |
Fiction

With his family caught in the crosshairs of a group of brutal killers, detective Cork O’Connor must solve the murder of a young girl in the latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s unforgettable New York Times bestselling series.

During a houseboat vacation on the remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork and his daughter, Jenny, on a devastated island where the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm.

Amid the wreckage, Cork and Jenny discover the body of a teenage girl. She wasn’t killed by the storm, however; she’d been bound and tortured before she died. Nearby, underneath a tangle of branches, they also find a baby boy, hungry and dehydrated, but still very much alive. Powerful forces intent on securing the child pursue them to the isolated Northwest Angle, where it’s impossible to tell who among the residents is in league with the devil, but Cork understands that to save his family he must solve the puzzle of this mysterious child whom death follows like a shadow.

“Part adventure, part mystery, and all knockout thriller” (Booklist), Northwest Angle is a dynamic addition to William Kent Krueger’s critically acclaimed, award-winning series.

Vermilion Drift: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #10)

Atria Books |
Fiction

William Kent Krueger’s gripping tale of suspense begins with a recurring nightmare, a gun, and a wound in the earth so deep and horrific that it has a name: Vermilion Drift.

When the Department of Energy puts an underground iron mine on its short list of potential sites for storage of nuclear waste, a barrage of protest erupts in Tamarack County, Minnesota, and Cork is hired as a security consultant.

Deep in the mine during his first day on the job, Cork stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims. Five appear to be nearly half a century old—connected to what the media once dubbed “The Vanishings,” a series of unsolved disappearances in the summer of 1964, when Cork’s father was sheriff in Tamarack County. But the sixth has been dead less than a week. What’s worse, two of the bodies—including the most recent victim—were killed using Cork’s own gun, one handed down to him from his father.

As Cork searches for answers, he must dig into his own past and that of his father, a well-respected man who harbored a ghastly truth. Time is running out, however. New threats surface, and unless Cork can unravel the tangled thread of clues quickly, more death is sure to come.

Vermilion Drift is a powerful novel, filled with all the mystery and suspense for which Krueger has won so many awards. A poignant portrayal of the complexities of family life, it’s also a sobering reminder that even those closest to our hearts can house the darkest—and deadliest—of secrets.

Mercy Falls: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #5)

Atria Books |
Fiction

In this “smart and satisfying” (Booklist) award-winning mystery from William Kent Krueger’s stunning Cork O’Connor series, the charismatic detective faces his most dangerous case to date.

Back in the saddle as sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork O’Connor is lured to the nearby Ojibwe reservation on what appears to be a routine call—only to become the target of sniper fire. Soon after, he’s called to investigate a mutilated body found perched above the raging waters of Mercy Falls. The victim is Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago businessman negotiating an unpopular contract between his management firm and the local Indian casino.

Sparks fly when the wealthy Jacoby family hires a beautiful private investigator to consult on the case. But once Cork discovers an old and passionate tie between one of the Jacoby’s sons and his own wife, Jo, he begins to suspect that dark, personal motives lurk behind recent events. Murder, greed, sex, and jealousy hide around every corner in this maze of danger. But somewhere beneath the turbulent Mercy Falls lies the truth—and Cork is determined to find it.

Copper River: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #6)

Atria Books |
Fiction

Sheriff Cork O’Connor is running for his life—straight into a murderous conspiracy involving teenage runaways in this thrilling installment of William Kent Krueger’s “buy-today-read-tonight series” (Lee Child).

Desperately avoiding the professional hit men who have already put a bullet in his leg, Cork finds sanctuary outside the small Michigan town of Bodine. But while he’s hiding out in an old resort owned by his cousin Jewell DuBois, a bitter widow with a fourteen-year-old son named Ren, the body of a young girl surfaces along the banks of the Copper River. And then, soon after, another teenager vanishes.

Instead of thwarting his assassins, Cork focuses on tracking a ring of killers who prey on innocent children—desperate to catch them before anyone else falls victim. But as his deadly followers close in, Cork realizes he’s made an error any good man might make—and it may be his last.

Thunder Bay: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #7)

Atria Books |
Fiction

In William Kent Krueger’s “finest work” (Michael Connelly), detective Cork O’Connor unravels a mystery for his old friend Henry Meloux, only to get caught in the blistering crossfire of jealousy and revenge.

The promise, as I remember it, happened this way.

Happy and content in his hometown of Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O’Connor has left his badge behind and is ready for a life of relative peace, setting up shop as a private investigator. But his newfound state of calm is soon interrupted when Henry Meloux, an Ojibwe medicine man and Cork’s spiritual adviser, makes a request: Will Cork find the son that Henry fathered long ago?

With little to go on, Cork uses his investigative skills to locate Henry Wellington, a wealthy and reclusive industrialist living in Thunder Bay, Ontario. When a murder attempt is made on old Meloux’s life, all clues point north across the border. But why would Wellington want his father dead? This question takes Cork on a journey through time as he unravels the story of Meloux’s 1920s adventure in the ore-rich wilderness of Canada, where his love for a beautiful woman, far outside his culture, led him into a trap of treachery, greed, and murder.

The past and present collide along the rocky shores of Thunder Bay, where a father’s unconditional love is tested by a son’s deeply felt resentment, and where jealousy and revenge remain the code among men. As Cork hastens to uncover the truth and save his friend, he soon discovers that his own life is in danger and is reminded that the promises we keep—even for the best of friends—can sometimes place us in the hands of our worst enemies.

Blood Hollow: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #4)

Atria Books |
Fiction

When a high school student’s body is found and her boyfriend goes missing, tough-as-nails former sheriff Cork O’Connor is forced into the center of an eerie mystery with a shocking twist in this “vivid and realistic” (Booklist), Anthony Award-winning novel from New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year’s Eve, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn’s self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O’Connor isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent.

In an uphill battle to clear Solemn’s name, Cork encounters no shortage of adversity. Some—like bigotry and bureaucracy—he knows all too well. What Cork isn’t prepared for is the emergence of a long-held resentment from his own childhood. And when Solemn reappears, claiming to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow, the mystery becomes thornier than Cork could ever have anticipated. And that’s when the miracles start happening.

Purgatory Ridge: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #3)

Atria Books |
Fiction
When mayhem descends on a tiny logging town, former sheriff Cork O’Connor is called upon to investigate a murder in this “wonderful page-turner” (The Denver Post) that “prolongs suspense to the very end” (Publishers Weekly) by Edgar Award-winning author William Kent Krueger.

Not far from Aurora, Minnesota (population 3,752), lies an ancient expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe tribe. When an explosion kills the night watchman at wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom’s nearby lumber mill, it’s obvious where suspicion will fall. Former sheriff Cork O’Connor agrees to help investigate, but he has mixed feelings about the case. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe. For another, his wife, a lawyer, represents the tribe.

Meanwhile, near Lindstrom’s lakeside home, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick are harboring their own resentment of the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that danger, both at home and in Aurora, lurks around every corner…

Boundary Waters: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series #2)

Atria Books |
Fiction

Former small-town sheriff Cork O’Connor leads a desperate search-and-rescue mission into the unforgiving Minnesota wilderness in this “gritty, bloody adventure” (Publishers Weekly) from critically acclaimed author William Kent Krueger’s award-winning mystery series.

The Quetico-Superior Wilderness: more than two million acres of forest, white-water rapids, and uncharted islands on the Canadian/American border. Somewhere in the heart of this unforgiving territory, a young woman named Shiloh—a country-western singer at the height of her fame—has disappeared.

Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota, to hire Cork O’Connor to find his daughter. Cork joins a search party that includes an ex-con, two FBI agents, and a ten-year-old boy. Others are on Shiloh’s trail as well—men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.

As the expedition ventures deeper into the wilderness, strangers descend on Aurora, threatening to spill blood on the town’s snowy streets. Meanwhile, out on the Boundary Waters, winter falls hard. Cork’s team of searchers loses contact with civilization, and like the brutal winds of a Minnesota blizzard, death—violent and sudden—stalks them.

My Journey As A Writer

One Book, One Community Program Events

The Importance Of Books In A Time of Chaos

What It Really Means To Be A Writer

Six Reasons Why I Write

Kent’s Upcoming Events

Kent’s Newsletter

Kent’s Blog

Discussion Guides for Book Clubs

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Anthony Award for Best First Novel, Bouchercon World Mystery Convention
Anthony Award for Best Novel, Bouchercon World Mystery Convention
Barry Award for Best First Novel, Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine
Barry Award for Best Novel, Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine
Dilys Award, Independent Mystery Booksellers Association
Edgar Award for Best Novel, Mystery Writers of America
Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller, Goodreads
Lefty Award for Best Mystery Novel, Left Coast Crime
Loft McKnight Fiction Award, The Loft Literary Center
Lovey Award for Best Series, Love is Murder Conference
Lovey Award for Best Thriller, Love is Murder Conference
Lovey Award for Best PI / Police Procedural, Love is Murder Conference
Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel, Mystery Readers International
Maine Readers’ Choice Award, Maine State Library and Maine Library Association
Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association
Minnesota Book Award, Friends of the Saint Paul Library
Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, University of Minnesota
Silver Falchion Award for Best Novel: Literary Mystery/Suspense, Killer Nashville Conference
Squid Award for Best Mystery Set in the United States, Left Coast Crime

Media Kit

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