The main protagonist in a Crime novel series written by American crime writer William Kent Krueger, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota.
Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Cork was once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, and after being the sheriff of Aurora, he became a private detective. Trouble always finds Cork in his personal and professional life.
How to read the Cork O’Connor Series in Order?
Each novel in the Cork O’Connor book series is offering a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one book to the other.
- Iron Lake – As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork O’Connor 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.
- Boundary Waters – Somewhere in the heart of the Quetico-Superior Wilderness, a young woman named Shiloh has disappeared. Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota, to hire former sheriff 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 Shiloh’s trail as well – men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.
- Purgatory Ridge – Not far from Aurora lies an ancient expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe tribe. When an explosion kills the night watchman at wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom’s nearby lumber mill, it’s obvious where suspicion will fall. Former sheriff Cork O’Connor agrees to help investigate, but he has mixed feelings about the case.
- Blood Hollow – When the corpse of a high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn’s self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O’Connor, Aurora’s former sheriff, isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent.
- Mercy Falls – Back in the saddle as sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork O’Connor is called to investigate a mutilated body found perched above the raging waters of Mercy Falls. The victim is Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago businessman negotiating an unpopular contract between his management firm and the local Indian casino. Sparks fly when the Jacoby family hires a private investigator to consult on the case.
- Copper River – Desperately avoiding the clutches of professional hit men who have already put a bullet in his leg, Cork finds sanctuary outside the small Michigan town of Bodine. But while he’s hiding out in an old resort owned by his cousin Jewell DuBois, the body of a young girl surfaces along the banks of the Copper River – and then another teenager vanishes.
- Thunder Bay – Cork O’Connor has left his badge behind and is ready for a life of relative peace, setting up shop as a private investigator. But his newfound state of calm is soon interrupted when Henry Meloux, the Ojibwe medicine man makes a request: Will Cork find the son that Henry fathered long ago?
- Red Knife – When the daughter of a powerful businessman dies as a result of her meth addiction, her father vows revenge. His target is the Red Boyz, a gang of Ojibwe youths accused of supplying the girl’s fatal drug dose. When the head of the Red Boyz and his wife are murdered, the Ojibwe gang mobilizes, and the citizens of Tamarack County brace themselves for war, white against red. Both sides look to Cork O’Connor to uncover the truth behind the murders.
- Heaven’s Keep – A charter plane carrying Jo goes missing in a snowstorm. Months after the tragedy, two women show up on Cork O’Connor’s doorstep with evidence that the pilot of Jo’s plane was not the man he claimed to be. It may not be definitive proof, but it’s a ray of light in the darkness. Agreeing to investigate, Cork travels to Wyoming, where he battles the interference of local law enforcement who may be on the take.
- Vermilion Drift – When the Department of Energy puts an underground iron mine on its short list of potential sites for storage of nuclear waste, a barrage of protest erupts in Tamarack County, Minnesota, and Cork is hired as a security consultant. Deep in the mine during his first day on the job, Cork O’Connor stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims.
- Northwest Angle – During a houseboat vacation on the remote Lake of the Woods, a violent gale sweeps through unexpectedly, stranding Cork O’Connor and his daughter, Jenny, on a devastated island where the wind has ushered in a force far darker and more deadly than any storm. Amid the wreckage, Cork and Jenny discover the body of a teenage girl.
- Trickster’s Point – Cork O’Connor is sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith known as Trickster’s Point, deep in the Minnesota wilderness. With him is Jubal Little, who is favored to become the first Native American elected governor of Minnesota and who is slowly dying with an arrow through his heart. Although the men have been bow-hunting, a long-standing tradition among these two friends, this is no hunting accident. The arrow turns out to be one of Cork’s, and he becomes the primary suspect in the murder.
- Tamarack County – During a blizzard one bitter winter night, just days before Christmas, the car belonging to the wife of a retired local judge is discovered abandoned on a rural county road in Tamarack County. After days of fruitless searching, there is little hope that she’ll be found alive, if she’s found at all. Cork O’Connor notices small things about the woman’s disappearance that disturb him.
- Windigo Island – When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the work of a deadly mythical beast, the Windigo, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu. Such stories have been told by the Ojibwe people for generations, but they don’t explain how the girl and her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, disappeared a year ago. At the request of the Arceneaux family, Cork O’Connor takes on the case.
- Manitou Canyon – Since the violent deaths of his wife, father, and best friend all occurred in previous Novembers, Cork O’Connor has always considered it to be the cruelest of months. Yet, his daughter has chosen this dismal time of year in which to marry, and Cork is understandably uneasy. His concern comes to a head when a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing.
- Sulfur Springs – On the Fourth of July, just as fireworks are about to go off, Cork O’Connor and his new bride Rainy Bisonette receive a phone call from Rainy’s son, Peter. The connection is terrible but before the line goes dead, they hear Peter confess to the murder of someone named Rodriquez. The following morning, Cork and Rainy fly to southern Arizona, where Peter has been working as a counselor. When they arrive, they learn that Peter was fired six months earlier and hasn’t been heard from since.
- Desolation Mountain – Cork O’Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the tragic plane crash of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders.
- Fox Creek – The ancient Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux has had a vision of his death. As he walks the Northwoods in solitude, he tries to prepare himself peacefully for the end of his long life. But peace is destined to elude him as hunters fill the woods seeking a woman named Dolores Morriseau, a stranger who had come to the healer for shelter and the gift of his wisdom. Meloux guides this stranger and his great-niece, Cork O’Connor’s wife, to safety deep into the Boundary Waters, his home for more than a century. On the last journey he may ever take into this beloved land, Meloux must do his best to outwit the deadly mercenaries who follow.
- Lightning Strike – A prequel to the Cork O’Connor series–a book about fathers and sons, long-simmering tensions in a small Minnesota town, and young Cork’s coming of age in the summer of 1963.
If our article about the Cork O’Connor Series in Order is useful to you, don’t forget to bookmark it! Cork O’Connor isn’t the only detective from Minnesota, there’s also Lucas Davenport, and you may also want to check out the Longmire series or the Joe Pickett series.