Lightning Strike

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This Tender Land

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A Note from Kent about Lightning Strike

I’m always looking for ways to keep the stories in my Cork O’Connor series fresh and different. Eighteen books into the series, Lightning Strike is one of my favorites and may be my most ambitious yet.

Set against the backdrop of the summer of 1963, when two murders spark tension between the Ojibwe of the Iron Lake Reservation and the white populace of Tamarack County, this is the story of Cork as an adolescent, standing in the doorway to his manhood. It’s the year before his father Liam O’Connor, sheriff of Tamarack County, is killed in the line of duty. I love that this look at Cork as a young man has allowed me to explore the complex relationship between father and son, so important in shaping Cork into the man who occupies center stage in the series.

I’m often asked by readers unfamiliar with my Cork O’Connor novels where they should begin. Because the books span fifteen years in the lives of the characters, I’ve always recommended starting with Iron Lake, the first in the series. Now, I have a different piece of advice: read Lightning Strike. It’s a great introduction to all the people and elements that are central to the stories. Then, if you like the novel, I hope you’ll give the rest of the series a try.

Whether you’re new to my work or a longtime fan, I hope you enjoy reading Lighting Strike every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Praise for Lightning Strike

A New York Times Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
Indie Bestseller
Washington Post Bestseller
Indie Next Pick
Amazon Book of the Month

“William Kent Krueger is a master storyteller at the top of his game with Lightning Strike. A pitch perfect, richly imagined story that is both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and an evocative, emotionally-charged coming of age tale that explores the complex bonds between fathers and sons and the long simmering animosities of the past. This is a beautifully written novel that packs a powerful punch. I loved it.”

—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Four Winds and The Nightingale

“Krueger winds back time, literally and symbolically . . . with . . . suspenseful measured pacing, his accomplished prose and his carefully crafted plot.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Marvelous. I’ve long been a fan of William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, and this essential novel allows us to witness how young Cork developed and matured. Not just a story of fathers and sons, it’s also a tale of Natives and settlers and how laws such as the Indian Relocation Act influenced both. Lightning Strike is a gripping, heartbreaking tale with beautiful writing, vividly drawn characters, and a story you won’t be able to put down.”

—David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Edgar and Hammett Prize-nominated author of Winter Counts

“This sensitive, moving prequel introduces and draws readers into the [Cork O’Connor] series. Krueger has written another perceptive coming-of-age novel….”

Library Journal

“What an enjoyable read. Krueger describes plenty of fascinating Native American lore and love of the forest, lake and streams. The story is intense but the boys are believable with their Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn spirit of adventure without being sappy. With full back-up from his parents and the support of his friends, 12-year-old Cork solves the mystery, setting the stage for a terrific series.”

—Karen Bakshoian, Letterpress Books (Portland, ME)

Audiobook Recording of Lightning Strike

Praise for This Tender Land

New York Times Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
Wall Street Journal Bestseller
Indie Bestseller
Publishers Weekly Bestseller
#1 Indie Next Pick for September
Library Reads Selection for September
Book of the Month September Selection

“If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you’ll love This Tender Land by best-selling author William Kent Krueger. The story is as big-hearted as they come”


“If you’re among of the millions (no hyperbole!) who raced through Where the Crawdads Sing this year and are looking for another expansive, atmospheric American saga, look to the latest from Krueger (Ordinary Grace), set in the Great Depression and centered on four young loners forced to set off on their own.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Part Grapes of Wrath, part Huckleberry Finn, Krueger’s novel is a journey over inner and outer terrain toward wisdom and freedom…Like Ordinary Grace, it is a compelling tale told through the eyes of a boy who translates the world in all its beauty and meanness and emerges hopeful on the other side”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

This Tender Land is rich with graceful writing and endearing characters.”

Denver Post

“Lively . . . Krueger’s enjoyable riff on The Odyssey will satisfy fans of American heartland epics.”


“Richly imagined and exceptionally well plotted and written, the novel is, most of all, a compelling, often haunting story that will captivate both adult and young adult readers.”


“A book you won’t own. It will own you. Long, sprawling, and utterly captivating, readers will eat up every delicious word of it.”


This Tender Land is a moving portrait of a time and place receding from the collective memory, but leaving its mark on the heart of what the nation has become.”

—Crime Reads

William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger is the #1 bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Cork O’Connor series

William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of This Tender LandOrdinary Grace (winner of the Edgar Award for best novel), as well as eighteen acclaimed books in the Cork O’Connor mystery series, including Desolation Mountain and Sulfur Springs. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family.

More about William Kent Krueger »

Iron Lake - 20th Anniversary Edition

Iron Lake

The Book That Started It All…

Iron Lake is where it all began, when Cork O’Connor walked off the page, tough, vulnerable, hardened and shattered, and into our lives. His creation is a brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate. With this novel, Kent Krueger elevated the crime fiction genre into something very special.” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Glass Houses


LIGHTNING STRIKE has been nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Mystery! Winners will be announced at the Left Coast Crime convention in Albuquerque in April. ... See MoreSee Less

12 hours ago  ·  

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🚨THIS JUST IN🚨 @leftcoastcrime Lefty Award Nominees are in and include:

▪️@zakiya_harris, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, for Best Debut Mystery Novel

▪️@WmKentKrueger, LIGHTNING STRIKE, for Best Mystery Novel

Winners to be announced on Saturday, April 9.


LIGHTNING STRIKE will be featured in the next volume of @readersdigest Select Editions, along with novels by @jeffreysiger, @MPMtheWriter and Freya Sampson!

Finished reading LIGHTNING STRIKE by @WmKentKrueger over the weekend. An enthralling prequel to the Cork O’Connor series. Lots of twists. Offers insight into the despicable Native American Relocation Act. A terrific, must-read mystery!