All William Kent Krueger Books In Order

If you have not heard of William Kent Krueger, he is an author who is most well known for his work on the Cork O’Connor series of novels.

However, while this is what he is most well known for, it is not all he has written, and he is also responsible for a variety of short stories, standalone stories, and some anthologies.

If you have heard of William Kent Krueger’s stories, and you want to read them, there is a chance you could be confused about what the correct order to read them in is.

All William Kent Krueger Books In Order

Because of this, we have put this guide together so you will have all the information you need before you start working through William Kent Krueger’s books.

While, as mentioned before, William Kent Krueger has penned a variety of books outside of the Cork O’Connor series, since the majority of his books are in this series, this is what we will be focusing on.

Since this is a series that does carry some elements over from previous entries later into the series, then it is worth knowing exactly what the correct order is to read this series in.

So, whether you are looking to read William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, or you want to read one of his other stories, this guide will give you all the information you need on this author!

About William Kent Krueger Books

William Kent Krueger is a novelist that is from America, and he is well-known for his writing in the crime genre. The majority of his novels are part of the Cork O’Connor series, and these are for the most part set in Minnesota.

This series has been successful enough to still be in publication today and it is well worth reading! His stories, including those that are part of the Cork O’Connor series, have been awarded for their quality, and because of this, they have been massively popular.

William Kent Krueger Books In Order

We will split this section into the different series which William Kent Krueger has worked on, with the Cork O’Connor series getting the most attention since it is the longest series he has worked on, and the order you read them will be important and affect your enjoyment.

Cork O’Connor Series In Order

The Cork O’Connor series currently has 19 entries and the order in which it is recommended to read the series is also the order in which the novels were released; we will go over each entry in this section!

Iron Lake (1998)

Iron Lake (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel (1) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

The first story in the Cork O’Connor series by Krueger follows the titular character in Aurora Minnesota who is having a hard time dealing with the fallout that ended his marriage and separated him from his children.

He is part Anishinaabe Indian and part Irish and he is coping by abusing nicotine, caffeine, and his guilt.

Since he previously worked as a cop in Chicago, you would assume that there is not much that can bother him, however, this changes when the judge of the town is killed and an Eagle Scout is simultaneously reported to be missing.

This all descends into a conspiracy that leads to getting O’Connor involved in the small-town mystery.


  • Does a great job of setting up Cork O’Connor as a leading character.


  • If you do not enjoy this story it is unlikely you will enjoy the rest of the series either.

Boundary Waters (1999)

Boundary Waters: A Novel (2) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

The follow-up to the first Cork O’Connor story shows us the Quetico-Superior Wilderness which is over 2 million acres of pure forest with rapids and islands that spread over the border between America and Canada.

And, in the middle of this region, there is a woman called Shiloh, she is a country singer who has reached the peak of her career, and all of a sudden she has gone missing.

So, her father finds Cork O’Connor in Aurora and hires him to help track down his daughter. The search party includes 2 FBI agents, an ex–convict, as well as a boy who is just 10.

But, as well as those who are looking to find Shiloh, there are also people who are out to kill her as well.


  • Following the search party makes this a more entertaining read.


  • The setting can get a little stale.

Purgatory Ridge (2001)

Purgatory Ridge: A Novel (3) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

Close to the relatively small Aurora is an expanse of white pines that are sacred to the tribe which Cork O’Connor is descended from. However, an explosion kills one of the watchmen at the mill nearby, and this of course leads to the Anishinaabe being blamed.

Partially because of his personal connection Cork O’Connor joins the investigation, however, he is split in the middle with his wife being the lawyer representing the tribe.

At the same time near the home of the lumber mill owner, a survivor of a shipwreck as well as his friend are building up resentment toward the owner, which leads to Cork O’Connor being stuck in a dangerous mix.



  • Can get a little convoluted.

Blood Hollow (2004)

Blood Hollow: A Novel (4) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

The body of a high school girl is discovered, and all fingers are pointed at her boyfriend Solemn Winter Moon, and the situation is made even worse for him when he goes missing. However, O’Connor does not think this case is as simple as it seems.


  • Interesting setup has a good payoff.


  • Takes a while to warm up.

Mercy Falls (2005)

Mercy Falls: A Novel (5) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

In Tamarack County O’Connor is lured onto a reservation and is almost killed by a sniper. Soon after he discovers a body perched over the Mercy Falls belonging to a businessman.


  • The setting and setup make the mystery tense.


  • Some lacking characters.

Copper River (2006)

Copper River: A Novel (6) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

O’Connor is running from hitmen who have shot his leg and he ends up running into a conspiracy surrounding teenage runaways.


  • The setup is one of the best in the series.


  • Requires good memory of previous entries.

Thunder Bay (2007)

Thunder Bay: A Novel (7) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

After retiring his badge back in Aurora, O’Connor starts work as a PI, and his first case is to find the son of local medicine man Henry.


  • Nice change of pace from previous entries.


  • Lacks some of tension.

Red Knife (2008)

Red Knife: A Novel (8) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

O’Connor finds himself in the middle of a gang war that is near his hometown which is turning into a race war.


  • Great setup.


  • O’Connor is a little less centered than usual.

Heaven’s Keep (2009)

Heaven's Keep: A Novel (9) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

It is personal for O’Connor when a plane his wife was on goes missing over Wyoming.


  • Personal stakes make it an engaging read.


  • A change of formula can annoy some readers.

Vermilion Drift (2010)

Vermilion Drift: A Novel (10) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

O’Connor is hired as a security consultant for the department of energy and ends up uncovering old murder remains.


  • Mystery is one of the best to uncover.


  • Very slow start.

Northwest Angle (2011)

Northwest Angle: A Novel (11) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

O’Connor finds his family stuck as targets of killers while also trying to solve a young girl’s murder.


  • O’Connor series is always at its best when it is personal.


  • The narrative can feel a little muddled.

Trickster’s Point (2012)

Trickster's Point (Cork O'Connor)

O’Connor and Native American governor Jubal Little are in the shadow of Trickster’s Point dying with Jubal dying with an arrow through the heart.


  • Unique setup is a great change of pace.


  • The narrative can be a little hard to follow.

Tamarack County (2013)

Tamarack County: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series Book 13)

O’Connor is tracking down the missing wife of a retired local judge.


  • Mystery is engaging to follow.


  • Takes a while to warm up.

Windigo Island (2014)

Windigo Island: A Novel (14) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

An Ojibwe girl is found on the shore of an island and her death is blamed on the mystical Windigo.


  • Great use of Native American inspiration to improve the story.


  • Some characters are hard to follow.

Manitou Canyon (2016)

Manitou Canyon: A Novel (15) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

O’Connor is recovering from many deaths in the family while his daughter is marrying.


  • Character development is engaging.


  • The less engaging premise for mystery fans.

Sulfur Springs (2017)

Sulfur Springs: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series Book 16)

O’Connor and his new wife receive a call from her son where it sounds like he is admitting to murder.


  • Newer characters freshen up the series.


  • One of the weaker mysteries.

Desolation Mountain (2018)

Desolation Mountain: A Novel (17) (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series)

We follow Stephen O’Connor following his vision of a tragedy coming.


  • Stephen is a fun character to follow.


  • Change of pace can be jarring.

Lightning Strike (2021)

Lightning Strike: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series Book 18)

This is a prequel to the O’Connor series, however, we recommend reading it here because of what it unveils.


  • Great to add context.


  • Prequel means it can confuse new readers.

Fox Creek (2022)

Fox Creek: A Novel (Cork O'Connor Mystery Series Book 19)

An Ojibwe healer is preparing for his death after foreseeing his death.


  • Unique setup is engaging to uncover.


  • O’Connor is less centered than usual.

William Kent Kruger Other Series

So, as mentioned earlier in the guide, the Cork O’Connor series is the most popular series by William Kent Kruger, however, they are by no means the only stories or books he has written, because of this, we have put this guide together so you know about the other stories that he has written.

Standalone Stories

William Kent Kruger has been published since 1999, and the majority of his career has been spent writing the Cork O’Connor series but interspersed between the entries in this series, he has penned some standalone titles that are well worth reading.

The Cork O’Connor series is, of course, incredibly long, so breaking up a marathon through the series with some of his standalone titles is a great idea.

This is especially true if you are a fan of his writing style, but you want something that follows some different characters outside of the established world.

These stories have all been written quite far apart, and since they are standalone, there is no real recommended order to read them in, however, if you want to read them in order of publication, the three stories are:

Companion Books

As well as his standalone stories, there is also the reader’s companion that was published which is a very useful tool. This book is a nonfiction piece and it sheds light on details that may have not been able to get proper attention in the main text.

This companion is a great tool if you are a fan of William Kent Kruger’s writing style, and you want something that will help give you further insight while reading his work. This companion also sheds some light on the critical reception some of the stories received too!


As well as his own stories, William Kent Kruger has contributed to a few anthology collections, so if you are a fan of his writing, or just a fan of the genre, picking up some of these anthologies is a great idea.

This is a great way to expand your list of authors you enjoy if you have just finished enjoying William Kent Kruger’s body of work.

So, if you have finished all of his stories, and you want to know what to read next, try checking out some of the authors that are featured alongside him in these anthologies.


Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful insight into William Kent Kruger and his writing. While he is most well-known for his work on the Cork O’Connor series, his works outside of this series are still well worth checking out.

Hopefully, this guide has also given you insight into the best way to read this well-regarded mystery series.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Books Are In The Cork O’Connor Series?

At the time of writing, there are currently 19 entries in the Cork O’Connor series, the first was published in 1999 and the most recent was published in 2022.

Noah Burton