The Cork O'Connor Books in Order

Published: 1 September 2023
Written by Chris Beach

Navigating the intricate web of mystery novels can sometimes feel like solving a puzzle itself. But when it comes to William Kent Krueger's unforgettable Cork O'Connor mysteries, the journey is always worth the effort. The acclaimed Cork O'Connor series, with detective Cork O'Connor leading us through suspenseful twists and turns, has undoubtedly made its mark in the literary world. Each book in this New York Times bestselling series is a masterclass in storytelling, with plots that captivate and characters that resonate.

For those who've been itching to dive into these tales or perhaps are revisiting and want to ensure they catch every detail, I've got you covered. I've meticulously listed the Cork O'Connor books in order. Trust me, immersing yourself in these mysteries in their intended sequence is like indulging in a gourmet meal course by course. So, without further ado, let's unravel the mysteries together!

An isolated cabin in the Minnesota woods

Table of Contents

• List of Novels in the Cork O'Connor Mystery Series
• The Final Chapter: Mapping Out Cork's Adventures

Frequently Asked Questions
• Who is Cork O'Connor?
• Who is William Kent Krueger? His Biography.

• Related Posts
Please note that participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This means that when you click on our links to and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us continue to provide high-quality book recommendations and reviews. We truly appreciate your support!

List of Novels in the Cork O'Connor Mystery Series

Iron Lake (1998)

Book cover of Iron Lake
Buy Now!

Struggling with the aftermath of a painful marital split that's distanced him from his kids, Cork O'Connor, a mix of Irish and Anishinaabe Indian heritage, drowns his sorrows in caffeine, nicotine, and overwhelming guilt. Formerly a cop in Chicago's gritty South Side, he's seen it all. Yet, the brutal murder of Aurora's town judge and the mysterious disappearance of a young Eagle Scout pull him into a tangled web of conspiracy, corruption, and dark secrets that hit alarmingly close to his heart.

Boundary Waters (1999)

Book cover of Boundary Waters
Buy Now!

In the vast, treacherous expanse of the Quetico-Superior Wilderness, which stretches over two million acres across the Canadian/American border, Shiloh, a renowned country-western singer, has vanished. Desperate to find her, her father enlists the help of Cork O'Connor in Aurora, Minnesota. As Cork spearheads a search team comprising an ex-con, two FBI agents, and a young boy, they soon realize they're not the only ones on Shiloh's trail.

A sinister group, with intentions not just to locate but to eliminate Shiloh, is hot on their heels. As the search intensifies, Aurora sees its own share of threats, with strangers bringing danger to its snowy streets. Out in the wilderness, as winter tightens its grip, the search party faces not just the elements but a lurking, sudden menace.

Purgatory Ridge (2001)

Book cover of Purgatory Ridge
Buy Now!

Close to the small town of Aurora, Minnesota, with its modest population, stands a majestic forest of ancient white pines, revered by the Anishinaabe tribe. When a sudden explosion claims the life of a night watchman at the neighboring lumber mill owned by the affluent Karl Lindstrom, fingers naturally point towards the tribe.

Drawn into the investigation, former sheriff Cork O'Connor finds himself torn. His heritage connects him to the Anishinaabe, and his wife, a dedicated attorney, stands in defense of the tribe. Simultaneously, near Lindstrom's lakeside residence, a mysterious shipwreck survivor and his companion harbor deep-seated animosity towards the magnate. As Cork delves deeper, he realizes threats are omnipresent, both close to home and in the heart of Aurora.

Blood Hollow (2004)

Book cover of Blood Hollow
Buy Now!

After a young high school student's body is found on a hillside, months following her New Year's Eve disappearance, all signs point to her boyfriend, the town's notorious troublemaker, Solemn Winter Moon. Though Solemn's choice to vanish seems suspicious, Cork O'Connor firmly believes the boy's innocence and refuses to pin the crime on him.

As Cork dives deep to exonerate Solemn, he faces a myriad of challenges, from familiar foes like prejudice and red tape to unexpected personal demons from his past. The plot thickens when Solemn resurfaces, sharing a vision he claims to have had of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow. This revelation not only complicates the investigation but also sets off a series of inexplicable events.

Mercy Falls (2005)

Book cover of Mercy Falls
Buy Now!

In Tamarack County, Sheriff Cork finds himself unexpectedly under fire during a seemingly routine visit to a nearby reservation. Not long after, he's unraveling the mystery of a man, deeply involved in a controversial business deal, found lifeless near the tempestuous waters of a local landmark. The plot thickens when a wealthy family introduces a captivating detective into the mix. But things get personal for Cork when he discovers an old flame linking his wife, Jo, to this high-profile clan. As he navigates a labyrinth of motives, from envy to greed, he knows that beneath the surface chaos, the answers he seeks are waiting.

Copper River (2006)

Book cover of Copper River
Buy Now!

While evading relentless hit men, one of whom has already left him injured, Cork seeks refuge near the quaint Michigan town of Bodine, taking shelter in an old resort owned by his cousin Jewell DuBois, a sharp-tongued widow with a teenage son, Ren. However, the tranquility is shattered when a young girl's body emerges by the Copper River, followed by the mysterious disappearance of another teen. Rather than solely focusing on his pursuers, Cork becomes engrossed in unmasking a sinister group targeting innocent children. But as danger inches closer, he realizes he's made a human error, one that might cost him everything.

Thunder Bay (2007)

Book cover of Thunder Bay
Buy Now!

In the serene backdrop of Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O'Connor has traded his sheriff's badge for the quieter life of a private investigator. However, tranquility eludes him when Henry Meloux, an Ojibwe medicine man and Cork's spiritual guide, seeks his help in finding a long-lost son. Cork's search leads him to Henry Wellington, a reclusive tycoon in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

But as an attempt on Meloux's life unfolds, Cork is drawn into a tale from the 1920s, where Meloux's love for a woman outside his culture ensnared him in a web of deceit and betrayal in Canada's ore-rich wilderness. As past intertwines with present on Thunder Bay's rugged coastlines, Cork confronts a complex tapestry of love, resentment, and vengeance. Racing against time, he realizes that even well-intended promises can lead one into the clutches of adversaries.

Red Knife (2008)

Book cover of Red Knife
Buy Now!

After a young girl's life is tragically cut short due to a drug overdose, her influential father, Buck Reinhardt, is consumed with a thirst for retribution. He points fingers at the Red Boyz, a group of local Ojibwe youths, believing they played a part in her demise. The situation intensifies when two key members of the gang are found dead, potentially turning picturesque Tamarack County into a hot bed of racial tensions.

In this charged atmosphere, the community turns to Cork O'Connor, a man who's always walked the line between two worlds, hoping he can shed light on the murky circumstances. Having faced countless challenges in his past to safeguard his town and family, Cork knows the complexities of such situations. As he delves deeper, he's pulled into a whirlwind of secrets and lies. Surrounded by the familiar landscapes he cherishes, Cork confronts a daunting truth: unchecked emotions can spiral into chaos, and discerning fact from fiction isn't always straightforward.

Heaven's Keep (2009)

Book cover of Heaven's Keep
Buy Now!

In the chilling grip of a snowstorm, a charter plane with Cork O'Connor's wife onboard mysteriously vanishes over the Wyoming Rockies. The weight of the loss is immense, but a glimmer of hope emerges months later when two women approach Cork with intriguing information: the pilot might not have been who he said he was. Driven by this potential lead, Cork heads to Wyoming. There, he grapples with local authorities who seem to have hidden agendas, faces the hostility of the Northern Arapaho community, and dodges relentless threats to his life.

Amidst the swirling dangers and deceptions, Cork clings to a growing belief: perhaps his wife's disappearance wasn't the tragic end he'd feared, and she might still be alive, waiting for him in a place as enigmatic as Heaven's Keep.

Vermilion Drift (2010)

Book cover of Vermilion Drift
Buy Now!

In Tamarack County, Minnesota, an uproar ensues when an underground iron mine is considered for nuclear waste storage, leading to Cork being brought on board as a security consultant. On his initial day, deep within the mine's recesses, he discovers a concealed chamber holding the remains of six individuals. While five of these remains harken back to a series of mysterious disappearances from the summer of 1964, during the tenure of Cork's father as sheriff, one is alarmingly recent. Even more unsettling, two of the victims were killed with Cork's inherited gun.

As he delves into this perplexing mystery, Cork finds himself navigating the intricate maze of his family's history, especially the secrets his esteemed father kept hidden. With the clock ticking and new dangers emerging, Cork is in a race against time to piece together the puzzle before more lives are lost.

Northwest Angle (2011)

Book cover of Northwest Angle
Buy Now!

While enjoying a houseboat getaway on the secluded Lake of the Woods, a sudden, fierce storm finds Cork and his family caught off guard. Stranded on an island ravaged by the gale, Cork and his daughter, Jenny, stumble upon a chilling scene: a teenage girl's body, showing signs of torture rather than storm-related injuries. Nearby, hidden beneath debris, they find a baby boy, alive but in dire need.

As they navigate the challenges of the isolated Northwest Angle, they realize they're being pursued by relentless forces determined to claim the child. In this treacherous environment, it's hard to distinguish friend from foe. Cork knows that to protect his family, he must unravel the enigma surrounding the child, who seems to have death trailing closely behind him.

Trickster's Point (2012)

Book cover of Trickster's Point
Buy Now!

In the depths of the Minnesota wilderness, beneath the looming presence of Trickster's Point, Cork O'Connor finds himself in a dire situation. Beside him is Jubal Little, on the brink of becoming Minnesota's first Native American governor, now slowly succumbing to an arrow wound. While the two were out bow-hunting, a cherished tradition, this isn't a mere accident. The arrow is identified as Cork's, thrusting him into the spotlight as the prime murder suspect.

While battling to vindicate himself, Cork reflects on his intricate history with Jubal: from a tough youngster to a football pro, a charismatic politician, and the lover of Cork's first love. Many admired Jubal for his fervor and loyalty, but only Cork knew the depths of his capabilities, including the potential for murder.

Tamarack County (2013)

Book cover of Tamarack County
Buy Now!

On a frigid winter night, amidst a raging blizzard and just before Christmas, a car is found abandoned on a secluded county road in Tamarack County. It belongs to the wife of a retired judge, and as days pass without any sign of her, hope dwindles. Cork O'Connor, Tamarack County's former sheriff, picks up on subtle details about her disappearance that unsettle him.

The brutal killing of a friend's dog and a vicious attack on his own son make him realize that these aren't isolated incidents. They're all connected to a two-decade-old murder case, one Cork remembers all too well, as he had overseen the investigation that possibly wrongfully convicted a man. As winter's grip tightens, casting the county into deeper darkness and isolation, Cork races against time, knowing that a vengeful entity lurks in the shadows, ready to exact a deadly toll for past sins.

Windigo Island (2014)

Book cover of Windigo Island
Buy Now!

When a dead teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on Lake Superior island shore, whispers circulate in the nearby Bad Bluff reservation about ancient legends: the fearsome Windigo or the vengeful spirit, Michi Peshu. Yet, these tales don't shed light on the girl's disappearance and that of her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, a year prior. Stepping into this mystery at the Arceneaux family's behest is private investigator Cork O'Connor.

Navigating the tight-lipped Bad Bluff community, Cork uncovers unsettling links to Duluth, a city notorious for the modern menace of sex trafficking, particularly targeting vulnerable young Native American women. As he delves deeper, the stakes and dangers escalate. Driven by a profound mission to rescue Mariah, a mere fifteen-year-old, from the clutches of malevolent men, Cork gears up for a monumental showdown. In this battle, he's determined to prove that love's power can eclipse even the darkest of fears.

Manitou Canyon (2016)

Book cover of Manitou Canyon
Buy Now!

November has always cast a shadow over Cork O'Connor's life, marked by the loss of his loved ones. Despite his reservations, his daughter has chosen this somber month for her wedding. Amidst the wedding preparations, a man goes missing in the expansive Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota. As the official search winds down without any leads, the man's desperate family enlists Cork to continue the investigation. With the wedding looming and storm clouds gathering, he ventures back into the wilderness.

Days pass, and with no word from Cork, his family grows increasingly anxious. Deciding to take matters into their own hands, they journey to the last known location of the missing man. There, they find Cork's campsite, eerily devoid of any sign of him but stained with a concerning amount of blood. As an impending winter storm threatens, they're plunged into a race against time, not only to find Cork but to unravel a mystery that endangers countless lives.

Sulfur Springs (2017)

Book cover of Sulfur Springs
Buy Now!

As fireworks light up the sky in Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O'Connor and his newlywed, Rainy Bisonette, are jolted by a frantic call from Rainy's son, Peter. Amidst the static, they discern a chilling confession: Peter claims he's killed someone named Rodriguez. Eager to find answers, the couple heads to southern Arizona, where Peter had been counseling at a drug rehab. However, upon arrival, they're met with more questions than answers. Peter had vanished months ago, and the name Rodriguez seems to be synonymous with the dangerous cartels that dominate the borderlands.

Navigating the unfamiliar, scorching landscape of Arizona, Cork feels increasingly out of his element. The persistent warnings of a border war and the cryptic advice to trust no one in Coronado County only heighten his unease. But what unsettles him the most is a growing suspicion that Rainy might be hiding something. As they delve deeper, the couple finds themselves ensnared in a web of secrets, lies, and looming danger.

Desolation Mountain (2018)

Book cover of Desolation Mountain
Buy Now!

Haunted by unsettling visions, Stephen O'Connor's latest premonition of a majestic bird's fall fills him with unease. His worst fears manifest when a plane crashes on Desolation Mountain, claiming notable passengers. Teaming up with his father, Cork, and some locals, they're soon overshadowed by official agents taking charge. Unexpectedly, Cork crosses paths with Bo Thorson, a discreet investigator with ambiguous intentions. As they navigate a maze of deception, they sense a lurking danger in the woods, a shadowy presence ready to unleash chaos beyond comprehension.

Lightning Strike (2021)

Book cover of Lightning Strike
Buy Now!

In the serene town of Aurora, nestled by Minnesota's Iron Lake, young Cork O'Connor's world is upended one summer in 1963. Discovering the body of a respected man in a deserted logging area, twelve-year-old Cork is thrust into a whirlwind of doubt about the place and people he once trusted. While his father, the town's sheriff, leans towards the theory of suicide, Cork, driven by intuition and youthful determination, embarks on his own quest for truth. As they delve deeper, both father and son grapple with discerning fact from heartfelt conviction.

Fox Creek (2022)

Book cover of Fox Creek
Buy Now!

In the dense Northwoods, the revered Ojibwe healer, Henry Meloux, grapples with a vision of his impending demise. While he seeks solace and acceptance, his tranquility is disrupted by hunters on the prowl for a mysterious woman, Dolores Morriseau, who had sought Meloux's wisdom and shelter. Guiding her and his great-niece (who happens to be Cork O'Connor's wife) into the heart of the Boundary Waters, Meloux attempts to outmaneuver the dangerous pursuers.

Back in Aurora, Cork O'Connor scrambles to uncover the identity and motives of these relentless hunters. As he delves deeper, he finds himself in a perilous chase, battling not only the elements and the ticking clock but also his own crippling self-doubt. With darkness and a snowstorm closing in, Cork is pushed to his limits, desperate to protect his loved ones from the looming threat.

The Final Chapter: Mapping Out Cork's Adventures

Diving deep into these tales has been nothing short of a roller-coaster, right? The allure of the Cork O'Connor narrative is undeniable. Following them in sequence is like connecting the dots in a vast constellation, revealing a bigger picture that's both thrilling and satisfying. So, as you flip those pages and immerse yourself in the world of mysteries and revelations, remember: the best journeys are those where you savor every step. Dive in, and let the stories whisk you away!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Cork O'Connor?

Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor isn't your typical detective. With roots that are part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, he's a blend of two worlds, giving him a perspective that's as unique as it is insightful. This duality in his heritage has shaped him, gifting him with an intuition that's sharper than most. It's this intuition that served him well during his days as a Chicago cop, navigating the city's gritty streets and complex cases.

But life has a way of throwing curveballs, and Cork found himself trading the bustling avenues of Chicago for the serene landscapes of the north Minnesota woods. Here, in the embrace of nature, he tapped into his Anishinaabe roots, finding a deeper connection to the land and its mysteries. Yet, even in this tranquil setting, trouble has a way of finding him. As a former Chicago cop living amidst the lakes and forests, Cork uses his unique background to unravel the enigmas that come his way, proving that sometimes, the most intricate puzzles require a touch of both the city and the wilderness to solve.

Who is William Kent Krueger? His Biography.

Portrait of author William Kent Krueger

Born in Torrington, Wyoming, he hailed from a family with an insatiable itch for travel. By the time he finished high school, he'd called eleven houses, eight cities, and six states his home. The dream of penning stories was the only constant in his ever-shifting world. In 1969, he stepped onto Stanford University's campus, only to leave a year later after a protest against the institution's military affiliations. His departure wasn't all gloom; he'd found love and followed her to Nebraska. Over the subsequent years, he dabbled in various jobs, from timber logging to construction, and even penned a few magazine pieces. Life was an adventure with his wife, Diane, until the birth of their first child, when reality beckoned them to settle down.

In 1980, the couple moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, for Diane's law studies. It was here, amidst the birth of their second child and Diane's academic achievements, that he truly embraced his passion for writing. The early mornings found him in a local café, the St. Clair Broiler, scribbling stories in wire-bound notebooks. Even though the café has long since shut its doors, his writing ritual remains unchanged. Every dawn, he's found in a coffee shop, lost in his notebook, chasing and living his childhood dream.

If you enjoy mysteries you might enjoy our list of the Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penny.

Portrait of the article author, Chris Beach
Chris Beach

Hi, I'm Chris. My love of books started when I was a child visiting libraries with my Dad. The smell and feel of old pages still sparks something within me that can I can only express as an emotional attachment to books. Two decades later this evolved into a passion for collecting rare books, particularly 17th century early-English literature, and rare children's books. I believe every book has its own story and each one reveals something new about the world we live in.
Discover Free Books That You'll Love!
Receive unbeatable book deals in your favorite fiction or non-fiction genres. Our daily emails are packed with new and bestselling authors you will love!


Amazon Kindle Kobo Nook Google Audible Apple iBooks

Latest Articles

Why Do I Read So Slow?

Should You Listen To Music While Reading A Book?

Are Books Dying?

Why Do Books Have Blank Pages?

Is Reading a Hobby?

Complete Guide to Richard Osman Books in Order

The Best Books About Learning Chess

How Often Should You Read?

The Cork O'Connor Books in Order

Deal-icious Reads: The Best Books Like 'The Deal'

Follow Us