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

“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

“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

“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


William Kent Krueger is in Perham, Minnesota.
William Kent Krueger
Last Friday, I had the distinct honor of being tapped to be the Grand Marshal for Perham, Minnesota’s annual Turtle Fest Parade. I’ve never been a Grand Marshal before, and I had no idea what to expect.Earlier that afternoon, in conjunction with The Willow Bookstore in Perham, I did my first in-person bookstore signing since the pandemic hit. I spoke in Turtle Race Park—yep, they really have turtle races—to a group of about sixty people. Like so many areas of the west, we’re in a drought here in Minnesota, but in the middle of my outdoor signing, the clouds overhead opened up and it rained buckets. The crowd and I raced to the shelter of a large tent, where I completed my signing.About an hour later, after the rain had ceased, I took my place in the back of a snazzy yellow convertible at the head of dozens of floats, marching bands, pompom girls, bagpipers, and local officials. Megan Wells, my really wonderful bookstore host, was my driver, and riding shotgun was the effervescent Greta, one of her sidekicks at the store.We got the word to start the parade early; more rain was due any minute. So we headed off in our convertible, expecting the rest of the parade to follow. But the best laid plans, you know. Somehow, even though we were fairly creeping along (like turtles, right?) we got way, way, way, way ahead of everyone and everything else. If you watch the video, it looks as if I and the little yellow convertible are the entire parade. I still have no idea what had happened to all the floats and marching bands and pompom girls and bagpipers and local officials who were supposed to be following right on our tails. But the crowd expected hoopla, so Megan and Greta and I did our best to whip the bystanders into a glorious frenzy of celebration for this parade in honor of the turtle.Honestly, it was hoot. The video was shot near the end of the parade route, where the crowd was a bit thinner. But most of the way, the streets were packed with onlookers, as if all of Perham had turned out to celebrate.I grew up in small towns, and I love the enthusiasm when the whole populace celebrates something of local importance, which they’ve embraced. I’ve been in towns with an annual Artichoke Festival, an annual Apple Festival, an annual Blueberry Festival. I think it’s about time the turtle got its due. And Perham does it well. ... See MoreSee Less

3 days ago  ·  

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You're looking at footage from Friday afternoon in Perham, MN where beloved author of ORDINARY GRACE, THIS TENDER LAND and the Cork O'Connor series @WmKentKrueger was Grand Marshal of the annual Turtle Fest Parade!

There's a brand-new @goodreads giveaway for an early copy of my book LIGHTNING STRIKE, which will be out in August!

Last Friday, I had the distinct honor of being tapped to be the Grand Marshal for Perham, Minnesota’s annual Turtle Fest Parade. I’ve never been a Grand Marshal before, and I had no idea what to expect. Read more (and see the video!) here: