William Kent Krueger, © 2009, Atria Books, 2009 hardcover. 9th in the Cork O’Connor series.
The first book in William Kent Krueger’s series of mystery novels featuring Cork O’Connor is Iron Lake. I read it just after it won a Barry Award, and I liked it a lot. The series’ second entry, Boundary Waters was even better and I was hooked. Next came Purgatory Ridge, which continued the high standard set by the first books. The series has maintained that high standard throughout (my single complaint was with Mercy Falls, see below) including the previous book to this one, Red Knife,
I admit when I read Mercy Falls, (the 5th book), I had a problem with it’s non-ending, but the following book, Copper River, took care of that, and I believe the two books should be read as one long novel, and a good one. Heck, they’re all very good indeed.
In Heaven’s Keep, Cork O’Connor is notified that the small charter plane his wife, Jo, is on has disappeared. It appears to have crashed, or possibly has made some kind of emergency landing, in the Wyoming Rocky Mountains. It’s harsh country, it’s winter, a blizzard was blowing into the area at the time. The search is difficult and it’s unlikely the plane will be found, but there is a thin hope. There is even less hope that anyone survived. That’s the beginning few chapters. I won’t go any further into the plot as I don’t want to create any spoilers. If you have to know more, there are reviews and summaries you can find elsewhere.
There is enough tension, suspense and threat here to satisfy most any mystery fan. If slasher thrillers are your cup of tea, look elsewhere, but if your after a good solid mystery novel with strong writing, three dimensional characters you care about and a fine sense of place, you couldn’t do any better than Heaven’s Keep. I just read it, and I wish I hadn’t so I could read it for the first time again. Instead, I may sit down and re-read it. Or I may pull out the whole series and, starting with Iron Lake, re-read them all. Krueger and these books are that good.
I like Krueger’s Cork O’Connor books, so a positive review here is probably a given to anyone who knows my tastes in mystery fiction. I’ve said for years that Krueger is my favorite living mystery author. This series has my highest recommendation.
It’s my understanding that this is the last Cork O’Connor novel William Kent Krueger will write, or at least the last one for a while. Whether this is Krueger’s choice or that of his publisher, I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m just sorry to see such an excellent series come to and end, even if it’s only for a while as opposed to a full and final stop. Meanwhile I’ll be doing that re-reading, and keeping an eye out for Krueger’s next book, whatever it happens to be.
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UPDATE: I’m informed that Chris Aldrich of Mystery News talked to William Kent Krueger at Bouchercon and he stated there is another Cork O’Connor book that is written, or will be soon. When or if it will be published is unknown.