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

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Staff Reviews

Where has WK Krueger been all my life?! Cork, the central character in this and many other Krueger books, lives in a small town in northern Minnesota near a large reservation, doing double duty as owner of a burger joint and as a private investigator. A popular, liberal Minnesota Senator is on her way to meet with locals about a controversial mining proposal when her plane goes down on the reservation. Rez occupants, including Cork, are among the first to arrive on the scene to search for survivors, but they are chased away as officials quickly cordon off the crash area. By the next day, the town is besieged by the media as well as a variety of investigative groups, some with obvious affiliations (FBI), but others not readily identifiable. There are no survivors, and pilot error is officially ruled as cause of the crash. Despite the ruling, secretive investigations continue, and soon several of the rez folks who were first to arrive at the crash site disappear. Cork, of course, has his own investigation underway. Great pacing, a venerable setting, puzzling motives, and soulfully crafted characters who I’d love to meet make for fantastic reading, and a firm plan to read the first book in Krueger’s series starring Cork.

— Kay Wosewick

Desolation Mountain is an entertaining mystery, the 17th book in Kent Krueger's series featuring Cork O'Connor, a former sheriff and private investigator in northern Minnesota. O'Connor's Irish and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) ancestry is an interesting aspect of the novel because he works and has family in and around the Ojibwa Iron Lake Reservation. Many of the locals are eagerly waiting to meet with U.S. Senator Olympia McCarthy, who opposes a new mining operation which could potentially poison the land. She doesn't survive her trip to the meeting, which launches a complicated, frightening investigation by a web of government agencies and outside interests. Many people close to O'Connor are in danger. I enjoyed the descriptions of the autumn forest and how the land is woven into an engaging plot. The book has me interested in Kent Krueger and how he might be connected to Anishinaabe culture.

— Tim McCarthy


New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger delivers yet another “punch-to-the-gut blend of detective story and investigative fiction” (Booklist, starred review) as Cork O’Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the tragic plane crash of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders. This is a heart-pounding mystery the scope and consequences of which go far beyond what father or son could ever have imagined.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

To Stephen O’Connor, Hamlet’s dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen. The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen’s worst fears.

Stephen joins his father, Cork O’Connor and a few Ojibwe men from the nearby Iron Lake reservation to sift through the smoldering wreckage when the FBI arrives and quickly assumes control of the situation. What seems like the end of the O’Connors’ involvement is, however, only the beginning of a harrowing journey to understand the truth behind the Senator’s death. As he initiates his own probe, Cork O’Connor stumbles upon a familiar face in Bo Thorson, a private security consultant whose unnamed clients have hired him to look quietly into the cause of the crash. The men agree to join forces in their investigation, but soon Cork begins to wonder if Thorson’s loyalties lie elsewhere.

In that far north Minnesota County, which is overrun with agents of the FBI, NTSB, DoD, and even members of a rightwing militia, all of whom have their own agendas, Cork, Stephen, and Bo attempt to navigate a perilous course. Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, the three men finally understand that to get to the truth, they will have to face the great menace, a beast of true evil lurking in the woods—a beast with a murderous intent of unimaginable scale.

About the Author

William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land, Ordinary 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. Learn more at

Praise For…

Praise for Desolation Mountain

"Krueger skillfully combines the otherworldly setting of the Minnesota wilds with Native American lore to create a winning mystery with more than a few surprises."
— Publishers Weekly

"Elegiac and frightful detail...dynamic action scenes."
— The New York Times

“Krueger is adept at fusing shocks with setting…Great atmosphere, both physical and cultural."
— Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501147463
ISBN-10: 1501147463
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 21st, 2018
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: Cork O'Connor Mystery Series