William Kent Krueger books in order
William Kent Krueger is an American New York Times bestselling and multi award-winning author of mystery and thriller novels.
Raised in Cascade Range, Oregon, Krueger was a student at Stanford University for a brief period before being kicked out for radical activities.
That outcome forced him to try out a number of jobs such as logging timber, working in construction, and freelance journalism, before ending up researching child development at the University of Minnesota.
Some of his awards include: Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize.
Krueger, who has been married to his beloved wife for over fifty years, currently lives with his family in St. Paul, Minnesota–a city that holds a special place in his heart.
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
- The Devil's Bed (2003)
- Ordinary Grace (2013)
- This Tender Land (2019)
- Iron Lake (1998)
- Boundary Waters (1999)
- Purgatory Ridge (2001)
- Blood Hollow (2004)
- Mercy Falls (2005)
- Copper River (2006)
- Thunder Bay (2007)
- Red Knife (2008)
- Heaven's Keep (2009)
- Vermilion Drift (2010)
- Northwest Angle (2011)
- Trickster's Point (2012)
- Tamarack County (2013)
- Windigo Island (2014)
- Manitou Canyon (2016)
- Sulfur Springs (2017)
- Desolation Mountain (2018)
- Lightning Strike (2021)
- Fox Creek (2022)
- Writing Murder (2012)
- Bums (2014)
Detailed book overview
When President Clay Dixon's father-in-law—a former vice president—is injured in a farming accident, First Lady Kate Dixon returns to Minnesota to be at his side. Assigned to protect her, Secret Service agent Bo Thorsen soon falls under Kate's spell. He also suspects the accident is part of a trap set for Kate by David Moses, an escaped mental patient who once loved her.
What Bo and Moses don't realize is that they're caught in a web of deadly intrigue spun by a seemingly insignificant bureaucratic department within the federal government.
Racing to find answers before an assassin's bullet can kill Kate, Bo soon learns that when you lie down with the devil, there's hell to pay.
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.
In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, Odie O’Banion is an orphan confined to the Lincoln Indian Training School, a pitiless place where his lively nature earns him the superintendent’s wrath.
Forced to flee after committing a terrible crime, 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 summer, these four orphans 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.
Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, is having difficulty dealing with the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children. Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, he is getting by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt.
Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on this complicated and perplexing case of conspiracy, corruption, and a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Private investigator Cork O’Connor finds himself caught in the middle of a racial gang war that’s turning picturesque Tamarack County, Minnesota, into a battlefield.
When the daughter of a powerful businessman dies as a result of her meth addiction, her father, strong-willed and brutal Buck Reinhardt, vows revenge. His target is the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe youths accused of supplying the girl’s fatal drug dose. When the head of the Red Boyz and his wife are murdered in a way that suggests execution, the Ojibwe gang mobilizes, and the citizens of Tamarack County brace themselves for war, white against red.
Both sides look to Cork O’Connor, a man of mixed heritage, to uncover the truth behind the murders. A former sheriff, Cork has lived, fought, and nearly died to keep the small-town streets and his family safe from harm. He knows that violence is never a virtue, but he believes that it’s sometimes a necessary response to the evil that men do.
Racing to find answers before the bloodshed spreads, Cork himself becomes involved in the darkest of deeds. As the unspeakable unfolds in the remote and beautiful place he calls home, Cork is forced to confront the horrific truth: violence is a beast that cannot be contained.
Months after the tragedy, two women show up on Cork’s doorstep with evidence that the pilot of Jo’s plane was not the man he claimed to be. It may not be definitive proof, but it’s a ray of light in the darkness.
Agreeing to investigate, Cork travels to Wyoming, where he battles the interference of local law enforcement who may be on the take, the open hostility of the Northern Arapaho, who have much to lose if the truth is known, and the continuing attempts on his life by assassins who shadow his every move.
At the center of all the danger and deception lies the possibility that Jo’s disappearance was not the end of her, that somewhere along the labyrinthine path of his search, maybe even in the broad shadow of Heaven’s Keep itself, Cork will find her alive and waiting for him.
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.
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.
The dying don’t easily become the dead.
Cork O’Connor is sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith known as Trickster’s Point, deep in the Minnesota wilderness. With him is Jubal Little, who is favored to become the first Native American elected governor of Minnesota and who is slowly dying with an arrow through his heart. Although the men have been bow-hunting, a long-standing tradition among these two friends, this is no hunting accident. The arrow turns out to be one of Cork’s, and he becomes the primary suspect in the murder. He understands full well that he’s been set up.
As he works to clear his name and track the real killer, he remembers his long, complex relationship with the tough kid who would grow up to become a professional football player, a populist politician, and the lover of the first woman to whom Cork ever gave his heart. Jubal was known by many for his passion, his loyalty, and his ambition. Only Cork knows that he was capable of murder.
During a blizzard one bitter winter night, just days before Christmas, the car belonging to the wife of a retired local judge is discovered abandoned on a rural county road in Tamarack County. After days of fruitless searching, there is little hope that she’ll be found alive, if she’s found at all.
Cork O’Connor, the ex-sheriff of Tamarack County, notices small things about the woman’s disappearance that disturb him. When the beloved pet dog of a friend is brutally killed and beheaded, he begins to see a startling pattern in these and other recent dark occurrences in the area. And after his own son is brutally attacked and nearly killed, Cork understands that someone is spinning a deadly web in Tamarack County.
At its center is a murder more than twenty years old, for which an innocent man may have been convicted. Cork remembers the case only too well. He was the deputy in charge of the investigation that sent the man to prison.
With the darkest days of the year at hand, the storms of winter continue to isolate Tamarack County. Somewhere behind the blind of all that darkness and drifting snow, a vengeful force is at work. And Cork has only hours to stop it before his family and friends pay the ultimate price for the sins of others.
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, private investigator Cork O’Connor 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.
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.
On the Fourth of July, just as fireworks are about to go off in Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O’Connor and his new bride Rainy Bisonette receive a desperate phone call from Rainy’s son, Peter. The connection is terrible but before the line goes dead, they hear Peter confess to the murder of someone named Rodriquez.
The following morning, Cork and Rainy fly to southern Arizona, where Peter has been working as a counselor in a well-known drug rehab center. When they arrive, they learn that Peter was fired six months earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. So they head to the little desert town of Sulfur Springs where Peter has been receiving his mail.
But no one in Sulfur Springs seems to know him. They do, however, seem to recognize the name Rodriguez. Apparently, the Rodriguez family is one of the cartels controlling everything illegal that crosses the border from Mexico.
As they gather scraps of information about Peter, Cork and Rainy are warned time and again that there is a war going on along the border. “Trust no one in Coronado County,” is the most common piece of advice they receive, and Cork doesn’t have to be told twice. To him, Arizona is alien country.
The relentless heat, the absence of water and big trees and shade all feel nightmarish to him, as does his growing sense that Rainy might know more about what’s going on than she’s willing to admit in this fresh, exhilarating, and white-knuckle mystery starring one of the greatest heroes of fiction.
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.
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.
The ancient Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux has had a vision of his death. As he walks the Northwoods in solitude, he tries to prepare himself peacefully for the end of his long life. But peace is destined to elude him as hunters fill the woods seeking a woman named Dolores Morriseau, a stranger who had come to the healer for shelter and the gift of his wisdom.
Meloux guides this stranger and his great niece, Cork O’Connor’s wife, to safety deep into the Boundary Waters, his home for more than a century. On the last journey he may ever take into this beloved land, Meloux must do his best to outwit the deadly mercenaries who follow.
Meanwhile, in Aurora, Cork works feverishly to identify the hunters and the reason for their relentless pursuit, but he has little to go on. Desperate, Cork begins tracking the killers but his own skills as a hunter are severely tested by nightfall and a late season snowstorm.
He knows only too well that with each passing hour time is running out. But his fiercest enemy in this deadly game of cat and mouse may well be his own deep self-doubt about his ability to save those he loves.
Fifteen successful Midwestern authors have contributed essays on the basics of writing mystery novels to this book.
Writing Murder shares their insights on fiction elements: setting, characters, point of view, dialogue, plot, and research.
In addition, they offer insight on the genre, how to build suspense, point of view, the circle of openings/endings, and marketing your manuscript.
"Bums" is a short story from the collection Twin Cities Noir.
Brand-new stories from John Jodzio, Tom Kaczynski, and Peter Schilling, Jr., in addition to the original volume's stories by David Housewright, Steve Thayer, Judith Guest, Mary Logue, Bruce Rubenstein, K.J. Erickson, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Brad Zellar, Mary Sharratt, Pete Hautman, Larry Millett, Quinton Skinner, Gary Bush, and Chris Everheart.