Book Review: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, it’s no secret I enjoy learning about legends and folklore. Not only that, I’ve always been fascinated by Native American culture.

Recently, I came across a review for Iron Lake by fellow author Judi Lynn. The book contained elements I enjoy – mystery and suspense, plus the author included several things about the Anishinaabe People who live primarily in the northern Midwestern United States and southern Canada.

Author William Kent Kruger first penned this novel in 1999. A twentieth-anniversary edition was released two years ago. After reading Judi’s review and the blurb, I decided to pick up a copy. (Thanks, Judi!)


Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, is having difficulty dealing with the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children. Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, he is getting by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt.

Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on this complicated and perplexing case of conspiracy, corruption, and a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Iron Lake is the first in William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. It was first written and published in the late 1990s, but the story is just as relevant today as it was then.

Cork O’Connor is a former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. He’s part Irish and part Anishinaabe and dedicated to seeing that justice is served. He lost his job in an election recount after an unfortunate event involving the shooting deaths of a local citizen and Sam Winter Moon, one of Cork’s father’s closest friends. Cork’s marriage is also on the rocks, but he hopes to salvage things for the sake of his children.

When a young Native American boy goes missing, and a prominent but disliked judge dies by apparent suicide, Cork gets involved. The trail leads to a number of Arora’s citizens, both white and Indian. He discovers corruption, lies, and greed.

There is a vast cast of characters, but not so many as to be confusing. The description of the Minnesota winter and landscape puts the reader in the heart of the setting. I also enjoyed learning bits of Native American folklore—something that is of interest to me. The plot was well-written and had plenty of breadcrumbs to keep me guessing. This was my first time reading this author, but it certainly won’t be my last.

28 thoughts on “Book Review: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

  1. I have a Cork O’Conner book in paperback, but I’m not sure it’s this one. I just know that the character and the setting intrigued me. Reading your review has me wanting to dig it out and see what I’ve been missing. Great review, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I discovered Krueger’s books just before the pandemic hit, and each one I’ve read has been a joy. Thanks for noting the first in this series. I’ve been trying to figure out if these novels can be read as stand-alone books. Glad you like Krueger’s writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve wondered that as well, Sheri. I checked with my local library and they don’t have the second one available in eBook format (haven’t checked physical location). I’d like to go in order, but maybe they can be read as stand-alones.


  3. I’m so happy you liked the book! Krueger makes Minnesota’s winters so cold, I almost wanted a blanket when I read his books. There’s a hint of Indian lore in the next ones, too. He has a new book coming out late August that I just ordered–a prequel. Might be interesting. Great review, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I read the book during summer, Judi, and not during our “Snowmaggedon” last February. (We may have been a tad colder than Minnesota, LOL.) I’ll have to check out the new release. I loved the Indian Lore in this one.

      Thanks again for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one, Joan. I too am drawn to Native American myths and legends. The length of this author’s name threw me. Wow! That’s a long one.

    Liked by 1 person

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