Who Is Cork O’Connor?

The easy answer is: A character created by William Kent Krueger. The tough answer is this: He’s a complicated guy who has grown and developed throughout fifteen novels. He’s not perfect, but very likable.

Cork O’Connor was a cop who honed his skills on the south side of Chicago before coming home to Aurora, Minnesota. He had been the sheriff of Tamarack County, but lost that job after he put five bullets in a local businessman.

Cork’s mixed heritage is a big part of character. He’s part Indian (Ojibwe) and part Irish. He’s quite at home in the backwoods and lakes of the northern Minnesota. He gets asked to help find missing people in the area. Cork is also the father of three children; he’s still married to their mother, although they are separated throughout the first two books. His wife is an attorney.

I’ve had this series on my to-read list for quite some time. I’m so glad I finally got started on it. I put aside everything else just to read through the first book. I waited half a day and then started on the second book. I love being able to devote whole days to reading books that are this good and so gripping.

Parts of these two books reminded me of the work of Tony Hillerman. I particularly liked the references to Indian lore and wisdom. I also like the inclusion of children in the stories. First there is the presence of Cork’s children. In the second book there is a savvy ten-year-old with amazing back-country skills he learned from his Indian uncle. He’s also a quick thinker.

I plan to read the entire series, hopefully one a month until I catch up. To start, let me share the summary of the first two books.

iron-lakeIron Lake

When the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.

As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork must dig out the truth among town officials who seem dead-set on stopping his investigation in its tracks. But even Cork freezes up when faced with the harshest enemy of all: a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.

Awards this book won: Anthony Award for Best First Novel and Barry Award for Best First Novel

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boundary-watersBoundary Waters

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, and Cork joins a search party that includes an ex-con, two FBI agents, and a ten-year-old boy. Others are on her trail as well — men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.

Awards this book won: Dilys Award

I’m very impressed with the quality of the writing in these two books. The characters are so well developed that I don’t think I’m going to have a problem reading the next thirteen books. Stay tuned.

R.I.P. Challenge: +2 = 3 of 8

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One Response to Who Is Cork O’Connor?

  1. I saw Krueger when he toured for Ordinary Grace, which I loved. Everyone else at the event talked about the Cork O’Connor books so I bought the first one but haven’t read it yet.

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