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Iron Lake Hardcover – August 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Short story specialist William Kent Krueger brings a fresh take on some familiar elements and a strong sense of atmosphere to his first mystery. Chicago cop Cork O'Connor and his lawyer-wife Jo moved back to his northern Minnesota hometown of Aurora to improve their quality of life, but it hasn't worked. Cork became the local sheriff, but lost an election after a disagreement between local Indians and whites over fishing rights turned deadly. Then his marriage broke up, with Jo becoming a successful advocate for tribal rights and Cork reduced to running a scruffy restaurant and gift shop. As the book starts, Cork is feeling guilty about sleeping with a warm-hearted waitress and still hoping to get back with Jo and their three children. Drawn into the disappearance of an Indian newsboy, which coincides with the apparent suicide of a former judge, O'Connor clashes with a newly elected senator--the judge's son and Jo's lover--as well as with the town's new sheriff and some tribal leaders getting rich on gambling concessions. Krueger quickly makes Cork a real person beneath his genre garments, mostly by showing him trying to deal with the needs of his two very different teenage daughters. And the author's deft eye for the details of everyday life brings the town and its peculiar problems to vivid life. --Dick Adler

From Publishers Weekly

Short-story specialist Krueger brings a fresh take on some familiar elements and a strong sense of atmosphere to his first mystery. Chicago cop Cork O'Connor and his wife, Jo, a lawyer, moved back to his northern Minnesota hometown of Aurora to improve their quality of life, but it didn't work. Cork became the sheriff but lost an election after a disagreement between local Indians and whites over fishing rights turned deadly. Then his marriage broke up, with Jo becoming a successful advocate for tribal rights and Cork reduced to running a scruffy restaurant and gift shop. As the book starts, Cork, feeling guilty about sleeping with a warmhearted waitress, is still hoping to get back with Jo and their three children. Drawn into the disappearance of an Indian newsboy, which coincides with the apparent suicide of a former judge, Cork quickly clashes with some well-connected foes: a newly elected senator (who also happens to be the judge's son and Jo's lover); the town's new sheriff; and some tribal leaders getting rich on gambling concessions. When an old Indian tells Cork that a Windigo (a malign spirit) is fueling events, it becomes an occasion for Krueger to draw some nifty connections between the monsters of the heart and the monsters of myth. Krueger makes Cork a real person beneath his genre garments, mostly by showing him dealing with the needs of his two very different teenage daughters. And the author's deft eye for the details of everyday life brings the town and its peculiar problems to vivid life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671016962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671016968
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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 an 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 five 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. "Windigo Island," number fourteen in his Cork O'Connor series, will be released in August 2014. Visit his website at www.williamkentkrueger.com.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Kel on October 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to jump on the O'Connor band wagon. This was a great one. Couldn't put it down. Krueger has proven he can compete with the big boys. This takes place in a small Minnesota town on the fringe of a reservation. Cork is trying to get over losing his job as sheriff. Some strange murders are happening in Aurora and he is lured to the investigation. In the mean time, he is also trying to figure out his personal life. He is attracted to a younger woman but is also trying to figure out what to do with his crumbling marriage.

I liked the way Krueger developed the characters while keeping the reader hooked on the mystery. Not many authors have mastered this. Krueger is working on becoming the master...
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Format: Paperback
In Aurora, Minnesota in the winter, there are as many people who travel by skis and snowmobiles as by cars.

Judge Robert Parrent is found dead, a possible suicide. The newspaper delivery boy, Paul LeBeau, is missing. All of Paul's deliveries were made up to the Judge's house.

Cork O'Connor, once a cop in Chicago and former sheriff in Aurora, feels compelled to take action where there's a need to solve a crime.

Cork is undergoing a time of turmoil, himself. His wife, Jo, wants a divorce and he's separated from his three children; painful indeed, just as the Christmas season is upon him. He takes emotional refuge with Molly Nurmi, a kindly waitress at the local coffee shop.

One winter day, he gives a ride to an old Indian wise-man, Henry Meloux, who tells him that the Windigo has called Harlan Lytton's name. This is an Indian sign of a person's imminent death. When Cork goes to Harlan's home to warn him, he's attacked by Harlan's dog and is forced to kill it. Not long after, Harlan is found dead and it is learned that he has been spying on the residents and more.

Cork doesn't believe that the Judge committed suicide. He thinks the Judge had something that the killer was after. Cork also learns things about his own family that shakes his well being.

I enjoyed Cork as a character. He shows that he is human and yet has the innter strength to continue the investigation while pondering his own faith and his relationship with his children. This is while he is having personal issues at the same time.

This is a fine debut novel which won the Anthony Award. The author can certainly tell a captivating story full of memorable characters, set in the frozen countryside of Minnesota. With his use of Indian folk lore, he places himself as a successor to the legendary Tony Hillerman.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like James Lee Burke and Tony Hillerman, you will find "Iron Lake" to your liking. Deeply intricate plot, good local color, plot twists and good characterization. Add Cork O'Connor to your list of favorite characters along side of Dave Robichaux, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie E. Powell on December 15, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
You gotta love Cork O'Connor. He has lost his job, separated from his wife and now lives in the back of his little business. But he chooses good women, loves his kids and has a good heart. Now he will put everything on the line to deal with murder and an old Indian legend. I love series characters - it's fun to follow their progression from one book to another and this promises to be a top notch series. If you like Harry Bosch, Tres Navarre, or Kevin Kearney you will enjoy Cork O'Connor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on January 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The murder?/suicide? of a corrupt judge in far northern Aurora Minnesota sets the momentum of this well written first novel. The mysteries pile up, a whiteout type blizzard sets in, the Windigo is afoot, and a crackerjack story ensues. The central character, Cork O'Conner is a straightforward man beset by complexities. He was fired from his post as sheriff and, wonder of wonders, deserved it. The usual mystery ploy is the hero was wrongfully used and was in fact a total hero, if only he had been understood. Cork is invested with real human frailties. His marriage is spiraling toward a divorce, and he can't get a handle on what to do about it. The sheriff who took his place, far from being an illiterate, crooked nincompoop, is actually a competent, honest man-much to Cork's discomfort.
The story is well paced with excellent plotting and characterization. The interplay between the characters, both verbally and emotionally, is exceptionally strong. There is a whiff of the supernatural (see Windigo above) that the author lightly touches upon and leaves to the reader whether to accept or not. What is extremely encouraging that as strong a book as "Iron Lake" is, I feel his latest, "Boundary Waters" is even better. Mr. Krueger is an evolving author in the best sense.
This highly enjoyable book is highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Max Greenhut (max_greenhut@condenast.com) on April 16, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When a prominent and infamous man-about-town is found dead and a local Native American boy turns up missing, suspects, alibis, and racial tensions pile up as high as snow banks. Cork probably shouldn't get involved. The last time he stepped in the middle, people got hurt. Himself included. And now he's lost his badge and his wife and maybe his way. But whether he likes it or not, he's caught again, like his blood, like his past, half in the white man's world, half on the reservation. Now a man is dead and a boy is missing and it's snowing really hard outside. And Cork's sense of duty and justice didn't disappear with his badge.
Krueger's ability to marry true edge-of-your-seat mystery and suspense with a lyrical and literary style and sensibility is unmatched. Iron Lake succeeds famously both as a tale of murder and mystery and as a rich and vivid portrait of an unusual town and it's divided citizens.
Read this book. It's fantastic.
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