Heaven’s Keep Launches!

Next week, the ninth book in my Cork O’Connor series goes on sale, and I still don’t know exactly what to think of this work.

HeavensKeep175Often at the heart of my books is an issue.  With Copper River, for example, it was a question of what happens to the children in our society that we turn out backs on them.  Thunder Bay considered the sacrifices we’re willing to make in the name of love.  Red Knife was about our culture of violence.  But I’ve to tell you honestly there’s no issue involved in Heaven’s Keep. I just tried to write a damn good story.

I’m told I succeeded.  Me, I’m usually a terrible judge of my own work.  By the time I’ve finished a project, I don’t know if it’s good or bad or will have any impact at all on readers.  By the end, it’s become stale for me.  I’ve poured my time and my energy and my creativity into the work, draft after draft, and I’ve usually exhausted myself in the process and all my enthusiasm has been sucked dry.  Almost always, by the time I send off my final responses to the copyedits, I never want to look at that piece of writing again.  And worse, I’m afraid no one else will want to look at it either.

So I rely on the judgment of others whose opinion I trust: my agent, my editor, my writing group, and, finally, the critics.  With Heaven’s Keep, the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Sally Fellows, who reviews for a number of venues, says, “Things just do not get any better than this.”  Ted Hertel, who reviews for Deadly Pleasures, says, “The story grabs you and will not let go.  This book – indeed, this series – is not to be missed.”  Robin Agnew, of the wonderful Aunt Agatha’s bookstore, wrote in her review for the Ann Arbor Journal, “After nine novels, I think it’s safe to say Cork O’Connor is as beloved by readers as Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn.   The fever of anticipation when a new Cork book comes out is as high as the one I remember for a new Leaphorn or Chee novel.  This novel is well worth the anticipation, though it will definitely have you reaching for a (large) box of Kleenex.”

Man, I hope lots of people buy this book, read it, and enjoy it.  Hell, all writers hopes this for their work.  But in terms of sales, writers have little influence.  It’s up to the gods or fate or whatever.  And I hope if people read it and like it, they write to tell me so.  I don’t care if you’re Stephen King or John Grisham.  You can never hear enough that you’ve done a good job.  Especially if, like me, you’re never quite certain that you have.

29 thoughts on “Heaven’s Keep Launches!”

  1. Hi Kent

    I’ve ordered Heaven’s Keep from B&N, but I haven’t received it yet, can’t wait to read it.

    In the meantime, I have a quick question. Do you have any input when it comes to book cover design? The cover on the new book (and the whole series for that matter) is just eye catchingly beautiful, just wondering if the cover theme is discussed with you before hand? Same goes for font size? Why is the font used in Red Knife so much smaller than all the rest of the font sizes used in the rest of your large paperback re-releases?



  2. Yes, I feel the same way about my work. I’m a very poor judge of what I have written. Just published my memoir: PIECES OF MY PATH and after 3.5 years of writing it and 725 pages later, it’s a lot like watching your kids fly from the nest. You hope they make it out in the cold cruel world, knowing full well that you no longer can go back and change a thing about the final project.

    But, I can tell you this: I KNOW I’ll LOVE HEAVEN’S KEEP. Not one of your books has disappointed me. Keep em coming Kent!

  3. Kent,

    I just wanted to let you know that I just finished listening to Heaven’s Keep – unabridged of course -(I commute 150 miles total each workday) and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I read (and listen to) many suspenses and mysteries, and I am so glad I have gotten to know Cork O’Connor. This book was rare because it kept my interest throughout and the suspense and need to know more never left me. There are many wonderful authors who have lost this ability to pace in their books, and I truly appreciate it when I can experience it. I realize that many stories don’t lend themselves to this type of pace….but in this case, you have done a wonderful job.
    I can also appreciate your need to move Cork to a different place by taking Jo out of the picture and I am sure you will have fans with mixed feelings about this. The characters must get slightly stale after awhile and you need to move them around to stay fresh.

    Thank you! for hours of enjoyment and a wonderful read. I actually looked forward to my commute on the Mass Pike. Imagine that!

  4. Hi, Kent, waiting patiently to read your newest book. I’m also planning on attending the event at Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault. I talked books with a friend today, and she said, “lets go”! So we’ll see you there. I attended one before and you inscribed “Boundary Waters” for me, after I’d mentioned my maiden name was Conklin. You had a character in one of your books named Tom Conklin, so I was impressed. You probably hear this all the time, but, I have read all your books, and have enjoyed them all. I’m having a good time reading your blog. Thanks, see you Sep. 17. Karen

  5. My Dad told me about a book he read and liked. Was one of yours. I always look on-line to see if there are others before it and if they are in any kind of order with the same characters. It was. I started with your first one and loved it. My wife likes them too. I just finished Copper River and have Thunder Bay to read. Waiting on Red Knife to come in and then will look for Heaven’s Keep. Will have to find Devil’s Bed sometime too. Enjoy your books keep them coming!!!!!

  6. WOW!! Just finished HK. Kent, it’s the first book that I have ever read in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down! And when I had to, to go to bed and to go to work, the story stuck in my mind and I couldn’t sweep the thoughts away. I had to get back to the story to find out what happens next…

    It pulled me along until the very last page…and I was awed by the ending…

    GREAT JOB! All of your Cork O’Connor books are great but this one, it’s my favorite! (Nice to meet you at B&N on Thursday)

  7. Hi Kent,

    Boozhoo to you too. It was great to see you again at J. O’Donoghue Books in Anoka tonight and visit about Heaven’s Keep. It is a great read. As I stated during the discussion there is an underlying thread that speaks to the importance of communication in our relationships, loving one another, and how spirituality can direct our lives. In reading Heaven’s Keep, I laughed, held my breath, had tears in my eyes, visualized what you were describing whether it be settings or people, and especially, once again, could hardly put it down. Thank you for another wonderful treasure. I love the name and love the book!

  8. I just finished Heaven’s Keep, and it is staying with me. I find that the lost section is drawing my feelings because of the vastness, beauty, and cruelty of the terrain. I think the story was wonderful and informative, and of course, very sad. You did a remarkable job, writing Cork’s and Srephen’s grief; it was very moving. I wonder what lies ahead for Cork now.

  9. How delightful to come home from the library today with your newest book in hand! Snuggled under my favorite quilt, with rain falling softly on the roof, I wasn’t prepared for how different it is from past Cork O’Connor adventures. Yet, the forlorn setting and unfolding mystery compelled me to read cover-to-cover. I am still thinking about Cork’s journey, his new associate Hugh Parmer and Stephen’s powerful vision and where it might all lead.

  10. As Lee Child says on the dust jacket “buy today, read tonight”. I only got it half finished on Friday night, finished it Saturday morning. I was wary that you strayed from Minnesota, the action set in those place familiar to me was always a added draw to your work. I was wrong it worked really well. Can’t wait for my friend Cork’s next adventure. As a father I like how you’re developing his kids too. Thanks for another great book. See you at the Broiler.

  11. I have read all of your novels in the last 3 months. Perhaps that is part of my problem – not enough down time between books to get “un-attached”. All were great reads. Jo was hard to love in Iron Lake, but she grew on me. Why was it necessary to remove her? If it was to give Cork room to “grow”, who will be the next unfortunate individual who is holding him back?

  12. I’ve had a lot emails asking why it was necessary to kill Jo in Heaven’s Keep. I’m not sure necssary is the right word. It was the way the story wanted to go. Honestly, in the first draft Jo survived. But it felt wrong, like a copout. So I rewrote the ending as it now stands. It was a sad thing to do, but it felt right. I never thought of Jo holding Cork back. I’ve loved the passionate dynamic of their relationship, the butting heads and also the profound commitment to their marriage. So what’s exciting for me to consider in all the sadness is the question of where Cork goes from here. I’ve just finished the next book in the series, titled Vermilon Drift. In the story Cork often asks himself: Who am I now? It’s been an interesting exploration, rewarding in lots of ways.


  13. I have read and enjoyed all of the Cork O’Connor books.

    This one tops them all.

    It must be kind of tough, you spend a year writing the book, I spend a day reading the book, and want more. And I wonder why it is taking so long to see the next book. I hope that you dont get tired of writing about Cork!!.

  14. My mother and I have been reading your books for quite a while now and always anticipate the next one. I do have to be honest and say something you have already been told, but I was saddened by the direction you took Heaven’s Keep. I felt right along with Cork and Stephen I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose my mother. I will be miss Jo’s level head (at times stubborn)and their consuming love. It won’t be the same but I think I will recover. Thanks for the great read!

  15. I’ve read them all and many of the students in Fergus Falls read them after your visit to Fergus Falls. You don’t pull any punches when you construct a realistic story and bring your characters to life (or death.) Will Cork be chasing the portly men from Florida? Looking forward to your next book.

  16. Dear Mr Krueger
    I have read all of your books in the Cork O’Connor series and usually can not put the book down until I have finished it. My wife”s cabin on Lake Vermilion is very close to Cork’s hometown, Aurora, and I have a close friend who, for quite a number of years, lived two blocks from the St. Clair Broiler. So I feel a little connection. I have enjoyed your books very much. In particular, I like how you portray the the O’Connors as good people with good values, but like everyone else, make mistakes and have regrets. However, in reading Heaven’s Keep, I too was disappointed with the ending. I know you say it felt wrong to keep Jo alive in the end, but I sure wish you could have found a way to make it feel right. I look forward to your next book, Vermilion Drift, but hope it does not end so sad

  17. I finally got my hands on Heaven’s Keep, and like Mr. Riddell, read it in a day. I fell in love with Cork all over again. Thanks, Kent for enriching my reading life with your work!

  18. A friend loaned us Iron River last fall. I read it and then Boundary Waters, and Copper River is quick succession. I received a Kindle for Christmas and have read all the rest of the Cork O’Connor series since. Just finished Heaven’s Keep. I really get lost in these books. My favorite place in the whole world is NE Minnesota, the Ely area, so I’m pretty familiar with the places described in your books. Everytime I pick one up it takes me where I wish to be most. I’ve also been to the places in Wyoming where parts of Heaven’s Keep take place and love it there as well. Your books always seem very personal to me and I can’t wait for the next one! Thanks for hours and hours of entertainment!

  19. P S I keep thinking Lucas Davenport or Virgil (bleep) Flowers will show up with the BCA. I’m sure Cork could show them a thing or two. How’s that for living in a fictional world??

  20. I am in the middle of reading Heaven’s Keep, but already know that Jo does not survive. I have wondered why you chose to have the book end this way, but understand the need to keep the characters “fresh” and growing. Interestingly enough, I have found a sense of strength in reading about Jo and Cork’s commitment to their marriage especially through several of the books where they dealt with separation and affairs. They ways in which you had them survive those experiences in their marriage has given me courage to face the struggles in my own marriage. Odd, I guess, that fictional characters can have this effect on a reader.
    Thank you for all of the hours of reading enjoyment.

  21. Kent,

    I hate you for killing Jo at the end of the book, which I always kept
    hope during the reading that she would be alive somewhere at the
    end. All of us like happy ending rather than death. How would
    Cork go on his journey without JO? You really earned a lot of tears
    from us. Can you make her come to life in your next book? Just for
    Cork. I know this is impossible, but I still want to ask for it.

  22. Contrary to most of the readers above, I was so gratified when you killed her off. Folks, look at the record–that woman got Cork into more trouble, intentionally or otherwise, than she was worth, although of course Cork wouldn’t see it that way. I see that Vermilion Drift was released last week, so I’m off to get it and see what Cork does without the baggage (pun intended). Best wishes!

  23. Was in the bookstore a few months ago,and saw a book called Heaven’s Keep that drew my interest. Was going to buy and read it until I saw all the others that preceded it, and KNEW I had to start at the beginning! Well,after gathering all of them,I spent my summer during my daughter’s softball practices and other times when it was too hot to do anything else(my excuse,anyway!)getting to know Cork O’Connor and getting addicted to your books!Thanks for giving me a very enriching literary summer! By the way,Heaven’s Keep was a great book,and I enjoyed it very much,even though Jo did die in the end. I am on the “hold” list at my local library for Vermillion’s Drift,and can’t wait to read what happens next to Cork and his family and friends.

  24. So I just finished Heaven’s Keep. Like others I was a little disappointed that Jo was killed off, but I do understand. What I don’t understand is why George LeDuc had to be part of the collateral damage. I liked the guy and he had a young wife and young kid. He was always good to Cork and helpful with anything he needed on the rez. It’ll take some time but I will eventually get over it. Really do enjoy all of WKK’s work.

  25. Thank you for coming to the Amery Library. I really enjoyed your talk. Looking forward to reading Heaven’s Keep.

  26. I started reading your books this summer. Heaven’s Keep was the best so far. I cried at the end and was mad that you killed off Jo because I loved the dynamics of the OConner family. Can’t wait to listen to the next one.

  27. I love this series and the beauty of the writing. The surroundings come alive in each book so that I feel I am there. But I was so disappointed to lose Jo. I feel the give and take between her and Cork will be sorely missed.

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