Krueger is best known for his Cork O’Connor series, but he’s also written a number of standalones, short stories, and contributed to anthologies. Our list of all the William Kent Krueger books in order is your ultimate guide to reading his books.
William Kent Krueger Books in Order
We’ll separate our list of William Kent Krueger books in order into several sections based on series and type.
Cork O’Connor Series Order
William Kent Krueger’s most well-known series follows protagonist Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor, an ex-sheriff turned private eye.
- Iron Lake (1998)
- Boundary Waters (1999)
- Purgatory Ridge (2001)
- Blood Hollow (2004)
- Mercy Falls (2005)
- Copper River (2006)
- Thunder Bay (2007)
- Red Knife (2008)
- Heaven’s Keep (2009)
- Vermilion Drift (2010)
- Northwest Angle (2011)
- Trickster’s Point (2012)
- Tamarack County (2013)
- Windigo Island (2014)
- Manitou Canyon (2016)
- Sulfur Springs (2017)
- Desolation Mountain (2018)
- Lightning Strike (2021) (Cork O’Connor Series Prequel)
- Fox Creek (2022)
- Spirit Crossing (Expected: August 20, 2024)
William Kent Krueger Standalone Books in Order
Anthologies in Publication Order
- Twin Cities Noir (2006)
- Mystery Writers of America Presents Death Do Us Part (2006)
- These Guns for Hire (2006)
- Writing Murder (2012)
Summary of the Cork O’Connor Series
Now that we’ve listed out all the William Kent Krueger books in order, let’s take a closer look at the Cork O’Connor series.
1. Iron Lake
Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, is having difficulty dealing with the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children. Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, he is getting by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt.
Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on this complicated and perplexing case of conspiracy, corruption, and a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.
2. Boundary Waters
The Quetico-Superior Wilderness: more than two million acres of forest, white-water rapids, and uncharted islands on the Canadian/American border. Somewhere in the heart of this unforgiving territory, a young woman named Shiloh—a country-western singer at the height of her fame—has disappeared.
Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota, to hire Cork O’Connor to find his daughter. 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…
3. Purgatory Ridge
Not far from Aurora, Minnesota (population 3,752), 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. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe. For another, his wife, a lawyer, represents the tribe.
Meanwhile, near Lindstrom’s lakeside home, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick are harboring their own resentment of the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that danger, both at home and in Aurora, lurks around every corner…
4. Blood Hollow
When the body of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year’s Eve, 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 isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent…
5. Mercy Falls
Back in the saddle as sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork O’Connor is lured to the nearby Ojibwe reservation on what appears to be a routine call—only to become the target of sniper fire.
Soon after, he’s 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…
6. Copper River
Sheriff Cork O’Connor is running for his life—straight into a murderous conspiracy involving teenage runaways.
Desperately avoiding the 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, a bitter widow with a fourteen-year-old son named Ren, the body of a young girl surfaces along the banks of the Copper River. And then, soon after, another teenager vanishes…
7. Thunder Bay
Happy and content in his hometown of Aurora, Minnesota, 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, an Ojibwe medicine man and Cork’s spiritual adviser, makes a request: Will Cork find the son that Henry fathered long ago?
8. Red Knife
Private investigator Cork O’Connor finds himself caught in the middle of a racial gang war that’s turning picturesque Tamarack County, Minnesota, into a battlefield.
When the daughter of a powerful businessman dies as a result of her meth addiction, her father, strong-willed and brutal Buck Reinhardt, 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 in a way that suggests execution, the Ojibwe gang mobilizes, and the citizens of Tamarack County brace themselves for war, white against red.
9. Heaven’s Keep
Intrepid hero Cork O’Connor faces the most harrowing mission of his life when a charter plane carrying his wife goes missing in a snowstorm over the Wyoming Rockies.
10. 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 stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims. Five appear to be nearly half a century old—connected to what the media once dubbed “The Vanishings,” a series of unsolved disappearances in the summer of 1964, when Cork’s father was sheriff in Tamarack County.
But the sixth has been dead less than a week. What’s worse, two of the bodies—including the most recent victim—were killed using Cork’s own gun, one handed down to him from his father.
11. Northwest Angle
With his family caught in the crosshairs of a group of brutal killers, detective Cork O’Connor must solve the murder of a young girl in the latest installment of William Kent Krueger’s unforgettable New York Times bestselling series.
12. Trickster’s Point
The dying don’t easily become the dead.
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…
13. 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…
14. 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, private investigator Cork O’Connor takes on the case…
15. 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…
16. Sulfur Springs
On the Fourth of July, just as fireworks are about to go off in Aurora, Minnesota, Cork O’Connor and his new bride Rainy Bisonette receive a desperate 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…
17. Desolation Mountain
To Stephen O’Connor, Hamlet’s dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen.
The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen’s worst fears…
18. Lightning Strike
Though this is a prequel, it is not recommended that you read Lightning Strike first in a list of William Kent Krueger books in order. You’re meant to understand Cork before setting off on this adventure.
Aurora is a small town nestled in the ancient forest alongside the shores of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. In the summer of 1963, it is the whole world to twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor, its rhythms as familiar as his own heartbeat.
But when Cork stumbles upon the body of a man he revered hanging from a tree in an abandoned logging camp, it is the first in a series of events that will cause him to question everything he took for granted about his hometown, his family, and himself.
19. 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…
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