William Kent Krueger is the author of the Cork O’Connor crime mystery series set mostly in Minnesota and several standalone novels. He is also one of the authors who wrote a how-to guide on writing books, especially mysteries.
Here are the William Kent Krueger books in order for his popular mystery series. The book list is updated as soon as we know of new books written.
New William Kent Krueger Books
Cork O’Connor Series
- Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor #1), 1998
- Boundary Waters (Cork O’Connor #2), 1999
- Purgatory Ridge (Cork O’Connor #3), 2001
- Blood Hollow (Cork O’Connor #4), 2004
- Mercy Falls (Cork O’Connor #5), 2005
- Copper River (Cork O’Connor #6), 2006
- Thunder Bay (Cork O’Connor #7), 2007
- Red Knife (Cork O’Connor #8), 2008
- Heaven’s Keep (Cork O’Connor #9), 2009
- Vermilion Drift (Cork O’Connor #10), 2010
- Northwest Angle (Cork O’Connor #11), 2011
- Trickster’s Point (Cork O’Connor #12), 2012
- Tamarack County (Cork O’Connor #13), 2013
- Windigo Island (Cork O’Connor #14), 2014
- Manitou Canyon (Cork O’Connor #15), 2016
- Sulfur Springs (Cork O’Connor #16), 2017
- Desolation Mountain (Cork O’Connor #17), 2018
The World of Cork O’Connor, 2016 (series companion)
Other William Kent Krueger Books
Who Is Cork O’Connor?
Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Before being a sheriff, he was a cop on Chicago’s South Side. He became embittered by several things including the marital situation that is keeping him from his three daughters. Now all he wants is to have his peace and quiet in him north Minnesota woods outside of Aurora, Minnesota.
Thus, he begins running a restaurant and gift shop while downing a lot of caffeine, hoping that he can enjoy his retirement. Alas, folks have other ideas, so since he is destined to solve cases, he becomes a part-time private detective.
He is part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, with a foot in two different cultures He is both white and Ojibwe. Cork is a resilient guy who bounces back no matter what is thrown at him. He looks like an ordinary guy, but he is one that you can trust. Once he gave you his word, he will do his best to keep his promise.
Cork is a guy who believes in people, believes in family, and he believes in what’s right. Over the course of next books, he gets married again, and he seems to be happy, but trouble comes at him every single time. He is human, he has his flaws, but he is honest to a fault.
Cork O’Connor ages in real-time, unlike other characters like Sherlock Holmes or even Jack Reacher.
Reading the William Kent Krueger books in order for his Cork O’Connor series is recommended starting from Iron Lake.
William Kent Krueger Biography
William Kent Kruger was born in 1950, in Torrington, Wyoming. He was raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. He always wanted to be a writer, ever since in the third grade when he wrote the story The Walking Dictionary, which was highly praised by his teachers and parents. He always knew that this is how he would eventually earn his keep. During his early years, his family moved around the U.S. quite a lot. By the time he graduated from high school, he had lived in six different states in no less than eight different communities.
After school, he enrolled at Stanford University, but he didn’t get a chance to stay around very long (only one year) due to the 1970 student protest during the Vietnam War which caused him conflict with the university’s administration. This resulted in his loss of scholarship. After dropping out of college, he started working to pay the bills, in various odd jobs like timber logger, construction worker, as well as a freelance journalist. Even during those times, he kept writing, even if it was about reporting news.
For the next several years he kept writing short stories, until at the age of 40 when he finished his debut novel, Iron Lake, published in 1998 as the first in the Cork O’Connor series. When he started writing, he stayed in coffee shops where he would have a quiet time to devote himself to his craft. He started writing his first book in 1992, and it took him four years to get to the main revision.
Over the next few years, as he wrote more books, he got lots of acclaims and awards, however, the sales were just not coming in; right until the author’s 10th book, Vermillon Drift, published in 2010, when the sales started pouring in and kept until today. In an interview, William Kent Krueger mentioned that one of the reasons he could finally break into the A-list of bestselling authors was the publisher’s willingness to invest money into promotions with Amazon and Barnes and Noble, along with other retailers.
Once Vermillion Drift really sold a lot, the publisher continued pouring money into promotion, realizing the return on their investment. Since then, the author made sure to keep on publishing at least a book a year, proving that the more books you have published, the better the sales will be.
While most of the Cork O’Connor books take place in Minnesota, a few books do take place in other locations, putting Cork in unusual settings and situations.
In addition to the Cork O’Connor series, William Kent Krueger also wrote several standalone novels, among which Ordinary Grace won several awards. The author was not sure how readers who love Cork would receive it, but the book did extremely well.
The latest William Kent Krueger book, This Tender Land, published in 2019, is a companion novel to Ordinary Grace.
William Kent Krueger Awards
For his books, William Kent Krueger received numerous awards over the years. Here is a comprehensive list.
- Anthony Awards Best First Novel winner, 1999 for Iron Lake
- Dilys Awards Best Book nominee, 1999 for Iron Lake
- Dilys Awards Best Book nominee, 2000 for Boundary Waters
- Dilys Awards Best Book nominee, 2002 for Purgatory Ridge
- Anthony Awards Best Novel winner, 2005 for Blood Hollow
- Anthony Awards Best Novel winner, 2006 for Mercy Falls
- Anthony Awards Best Novel nominee, 2008 for Thunder Bay
- Dilys Awards Best Book winner, 2008 for Thunder Bay
- Anthony Awards Best Novel nominee, 2009 for Red Knife
- Barry Awards Best Novel nominee, 2009 for Red Knife
- Anthony Awards Best Novel winner, 2014 for Ordinary Grace
- Barry Awards Best Novel winner, 2014 for Ordinary Grace
- Dilys Awards Best Book winner, 2014 for Ordinary Grace
- Edgar Awards Best Novel winner, 2014 for Ordinary Grace
- Macavity Awards Best Novel winner, 2014 for Ordinary Grace
Praise for William Kent Krueger
Absorbing and wonderfully-paced, this fictional narrative set against historical truths mesmerizes the reader with its evocations of compassion, courage, and self-discovery. . . THIS TENDER LAND is a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones. (Bob Drury on This Tender Land)
Pitch-perfect…I loved this book. (Dennis Lehane on Ordinary Grace)
A brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate. (Louise Penny on Iron Lake)
Among thoughtful readers, William Kent Krueger holds a very special place in the pantheon. (C.J. Box)
Krueger’s writing, strong and bold yet with the mature mark of restraint, pulls this exciting search-and-rescue mission through with a hard yank. (Publishers Weekly)
Suspenseful, compelling, and highly readable. (The Dallas Morning Review on Purgatory Ridge)
When you read a William Kent Krueger book, you’re taken back to a place so real it’s like home, with characters so close to you they feel like family….[He’s] so good I want to kill him. (Steve Hamilton)
- William Kent Krueger author website
- William Kent Krueger interview
- Minnesota public radio author interview