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Red Knife: A Cork O'Connor Mystery (Cork O'Connor Mysteries) Hardcover – September 2, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Cork O'Connor Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416556745
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416556749
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Racial tensions fuel Krueger's outstanding ninth Cork O'Connor mystery, which delivers everything its predecessors like Thunder Bay have promised—and more. Threats from all sides assail former sheriff and part-time PI Cork O'Connor, who's part Ojibwa, in his efforts to mediate the smoldering feud between Tamarack County's whites and the recently formed Red Boyz: threats from Buck Reinhardt, brutal father of a girl destroyed by drugs dealt by Lonnie Thunder; from the Red Boyz after the gang-style execution of their leader, Alex Kingbird, and his wife; from the Latin Lords, expanding their drug trade into northern Minnesota. Simply and elegantly told, this sad story of loyalty and honor, corruption and hatred, hauntingly carves utterly convincing characters, both red and white, into the consciousness. Krueger mourns the death of ideals and celebrates true old values. As Cork tells an Ojibwa friend, Maybe you can't alter the human heart... but you can remove the weapons—the first step, perhaps, in blazing a trail toward sanity and hope. (Sept.)
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"If you don't know Cork O'Connor, get to know him now." -- Booklist

"Cork O' one of those hometown heroes you rarely see...someone so decent and true, he might restore his town's battered faith in the old values." -- The New York Times Book Review

"William Kent Krueger is one of the best mystery writers out there. Any reader who has yet to pick up one of his Cork O'Connor suspense novels is in for a rare treat." -- Vince Flynn --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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

Customer Reviews

Great story teller, with engaging characters.
I've read every book of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series.
M. Hewitt
I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a fast reading book!
Pamela L Banta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a mystery junkie. And I think my list of favorite male mystery writers is topnotch: James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Lee Child. But included in that list is Minnesota's own William Kent Krueger. His Cork O'Connor novels _are Minnesota at her best and worst. Krueger's knowledge of the Ojibwe is deep and respectful and his beliefs about violence are thoughtful, if not naïve in some respects. But it is the story, the characters that reach out and grab you and compel you to keep turning the pages.

"It was not yet dawn and already he could smell death." The reader is thrust immediately into the story with Krueger's first sentence-and it's a wild ride to the conclusion.

Kristi Reinhardt died as a result of a meth overdose. Her father, Buck Reinhardt, wants revenge. He believes Lonnie Thunder is responsible for his daughter's death, and he's going after him and the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe, whom he believes shares in the responsibility.

The head of the Red Boyz, Alexander Kingbird, requests that former sheriff, Cork O'Connor (who is part Ojibwe), arrange a meeting with Buck. He wants to give Buck justice. Before the meeting can be set up, Alexander and his wife, Rayette, are brutally murdered at their home. Their young daughter is left alive and found crying in her crib. But a message was left at the scene and the murder itself suggests the Kingbirds were executed.

When another murder occurs, tensions heat up further between the Native Americans and the white folks living in Tamarack County. It's up to Cork to mitigate the building tension and avoid the bloodshed that is bound to occur. The toll on Cork changes him forever.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on November 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Cork O'Connor, in this latest chapter in the series, is torn between his Indian and White heritages amidst violence in the rural Minnesota landscape. What sets it off is the death of a drugged young girl, pitting various elements against each other with Cork in the middle.

At the heart of the problem are some young Indians known as the Red Boyz. When their leader and his wife are found murdered, Cork understands that a powder keg of racially inspired conflict is at hand. Cork, the ex-sheriff, is drawn into the investigation, placing him in jeopardy as well. The novel is said to be based on a real story, and portrays the racial conflicts and drug violence of the present day.

As usual, the author shows his deep knowledge of the North Country landscape and Indian history and culture. Written simply but forcefully, the novel continues to enthrall the reader as have the past entries in the series. Recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rod M. Holland on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Note: All my recent "reading" is done via audio book.

I spent a lot of summers up in the area of Minnesota where Krueger's books takes place. He's pegged the people characteristics of the area so well its amazing. I'd be laughing well listening....cause I knew that, that wasn't his name....but I was sure it was him just the same.

Pros: A good basic story line. It keeps you interested from beginning to end, and you can't easily see where its going.

Cons: The last part didn't have to happen. I thought the ending got too "Soap Opera"-ish. Had he stopped it short of the last "episode" I think it would have been 4 stars. I'm not sure what point Krueger was trying to make at the end. He also locked himself into some futures for his characters. Not a good idea I think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Doug on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kent Kueger's work has always had a friendly, down home quality to it. Cork O'Connor is, in my mind, a young James Stewart-ish sort with the decent, do-the-right-thing-even-when-no one-is-watching values I find in my friends in northern Wisconsin. In Red Knife he's caught without his sheriff's badge attempting to not only solve a murder but head off a brewing civil war within the Ojibwe tribe.

As always, Krueger's descriptions of Cork's family life, his devotion to finding peacful answers to violent questions, his internal toughness are fascinating as they depict a man who is examining himself as he investigates others. Krueger also takes secondary characters and brings them to life, imbuing them with a vibrancy that makes them human, flawed and sympathetic.

The plot of Red Knife wanders a bit but never goes entirely off track . . . until the end. You may see it coming; you may not. It's as though what we expect from a Kent Krueger novel, and from this book in particular, wasn't good enough for Krueger's editor so a new and far more high drama and troublesome ending got tacked on. Sort of like running an eighteen-wheeler right through the center of town, red lights be damned. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't.

I didn't like it. Jarring and unnecessary, Red Knife's ending didn't fit the story and calls the rest of this great series into question.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul O'Connor VINE VOICE on July 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Mostly I read the Cork O'Connor novels because I like the author's insights into how people take the experiences of life and find pieces to motivate themselves either towards the betterment of the community or its destruction. I like low body counts because it keeps the pressure on the people trying to resolve the mystery. Copper River was the best of the stories I've read so far and I've read them all in order.

I really loved a lot of this book. The author really does a nice job with teen-aged angst, how it is mostly harmless and is a necessary part of growing up but can be unpredictably dangerous when mixed with real life.

But the ending (or should I say endings as there at least three separate endings to this book) was awful. It was like Krueger mailed the manuscript to Don Pendelton and asked him how to end it. First there's the TOTALLY contrived reconciliation between Ulysses and his father (okay, it wasn't that bad, it just should have taken at least 75 pages to resolve properly instead of a few paragraphs). Then there was the AWFUL shoot-out at the lake (okay, it had some REALLY nice themes, but it still should have been handled much less messily, which would have taken a lot longer). Finally there was the incident at the school, for which THERE IS NO REDEEMING FEATURE. Why did Krueger decide to tack it onto a pretty good book? It just doesn't belong there!

Perhaps Krueger should have split this into two books like he did with Mercy Falls and Copper River. In his defense, I found Mercy Falls to be very unsatisfying so he might have made the right decision after all.

I've considered abandoning the series at several points but this one really pushed me to the edge. I'm going to borrow the next book from the library and it needs to be absolutely stellar or I'm done with the series.
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