2021 Highlights

It’s been a memorably difficult year for most of us. The pandemic and all the challenges that have come with it have created chaos in so many lives. It would be easy to look back and see mostly darkness, but as the year draws to a close, I’m going to focus on what, for me, has been good about the last twelve months.

Kent at the Grand Canyon

In March, I received the second Pfizer vaccination, which gave me enough confidence to embark on my family’s yearly sojourn to Sedona, Arizona. I love Sedona for two main reasons: the beauty of the Red Rocks area and the vast number of terrific hiking trails. We rented a house overlooking Oak Creek with a stunning view west to the mountains and the old mining town of Jerome. And I hiked to my heart’s content. I took some time as well for a brief visit to the magnificent Grand Canyon. Which reminded me, as it always does, that Nature trumps every human artistic endeavor.

William Kent Krueger with bicycle

Much of the spring, summer, and fall, I spent on two wheels. A rediscovery of the joy of biking was one of the few silver linings of the pandemic. Between my reliable old Trek and the Vado e-bike I purchased this year, I put in several hundred miles on the wonderful trails here in Minnesota. To my delight, I also discovered joy in simply biking my own neighborhood, finding little gems that I’d overlooked all these years but in going slowly on my bicycle, I finally took the time to notice.

Kent on the playground

In addition to keeping cool in any number of our pristine lakes last summer, my wife and I put in some sweltering time as part of an outreach effort by our church congregation, helping to build a playground at a shelter for homeless families. The temps topped 100 degrees. I’m 70, and the work nearly killed me, but it was grand to see the joy the playground brought those families.

Kent baking bagels

The other outreach program we’re part of is the community bread oven our congregation has built on the church lawn. Over the past six years, in addition to bread, we’ve baked pizzas, hot cross buns, blueberry crumble, doughnuts, pretzels, potatoes, and Stollen. This year, we added bagels to the menu, which were a huge hit with our congregation and all the folks from the neighborhood who smelled the enticing aroma and dropped by to share in the repast. This simple sharing of a meal, of food created in a way communities have baked for thousands of years, continues to be one of my great joys.


Of course, on the literary scene, my big news was the release of Lightning Strike, the newest novel in my Cork O’Connor series, which debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and has found its way onto many best-books-of-the-year lists.

Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger

As I look ahead, I’m eagerly anticipating the release next year of #19 in my Cork O’Connor series, a novel titled Fox Creek, due out in August. Keep watching my Facebook page and my website, and early in 2022, I’ll be telling you much more about this thrilling addition to the series.

William Kent Krueger in the water

To everyone, I wish better times ahead and the fulfillment of dreams put on hold for too long.

13 thoughts on “2021 Highlights”

  1. Thanks Mr. Krueger
    I enjoyed Lightning Strike (and many of your earlier books) and introduced it to our book club at work. I am grateful to have made your acquaintance at Bouchercon 2019 where you inscribed a book and gave me encouragement to finish my first novel, which will be published in April, 2022.
    Thank you, sir!

  2. Happy New Year, Kent!
    Our book club is reading “This Tender Land” this month. I have enjoyed all of your books. Always looking forward to your next one!

  3. I purchased Lightning Strike when it was first available and put it on the shelf where it was visible from “my” chair. Every evening I could see it as we relaxed and I savored the idea that it was there, waiting for me. That alone was a delicious feeling! The day after Christmas I decided it was time to open the book and start my journey into Cork’s childhood. You, Mr. Krueger, are an amazing and gifted storyteller! I have read all your books and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one, but Lightning Strike (like Ordinary Grace!!) has touched me profoundly. God has given you the beautiful gift of storytelling, and I am so blessed that you have chosen to share that incredible gift with the world.
    Happy 2022! SO looking forward to the next Cork O’Connor book!

  4. I went through the Audible version of Lightning Strike in record time- please do not let anyone except David Chandler narrate your Cork books. I have no doubt that you could write a grocery list and it would be a work of art! Thank you for a beautiful recap of the high points of your year and wishing you all the best for 2022. I am eagerly looking forward to the next Cork installment!!

  5. Happy New Year Kent! Thankyou for focusing on the positive! I’m enjoying the cold weather today. Running the car so it will keep starting and taking care of my other chores. April the beagle and Harley the German Shepherd mix and the cat are doing well as is my other family. Tim and his loved ones are enjoying skiing in Aspen/ Snowmass. Annie and Jack go to the beaches. Steve is a little sick right now but he will be okay. Has decided to go to the gym more when he gets well. All is well!

  6. For every loss I’ve mourned in the past year (and there have been many), there has been a moment of unexpected gain. In just the past two weeks, I received an expression of gratitude from a homeless man, had a serendipitous encounter with a friend I have not seen for three years, and wept at the swift and generous response of a contractor who patched my roof after a serial derecho moved through Iowa on December 15. These and other 2021 moments of grace give me pause. Reflected upon, they offer comfort, ease my soul, and encourage me to look to tomorrow with hope. And now I can eagerly anticipate August! Thank you, Kent!

  7. Given the extent of your writing empire, I would surmise that you (and likely all your siblings) were given the same gift of english/logic knowledge from your father that many of us at HR were given. Not having known of this empire before today, I am about to begin the journey which you have been on for many years. I suspect your books will draw my attention just as your fathers lectures did…thank you Kreugers for all your gifts…

  8. Thank you, William Kent Kruger, for your amazing book, Ordinary Grace. Fabulously written, I felt like I was actually in the neighborhood with your characters. I’ve just started This Tender Land and love it. You’ve been a bright star in this dark year of the pandemic.

  9. Thank you for helping me get through these last 2 years of my life. I am about half way through the O’Connor series. Looking forward to Fox Creek.

    Keep writing!!

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