Iron Lake

by William Kent Krueger, © 1998, Pocket books 1999 paperback
mystery, 1st in the Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor series

This is the 40th in my series of forgotten books

Re-Reading WKK’s Cork O’Connor #1: Iron Lake

As I write this, there will be only one more book in William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, at least as far as I can tell. I have enjoyed the series a lot over the years I’ve been reading it, and I’ve decided to re-read the books. I don’t do a lot of re-reading, but these were good ones and I’d like to enjoy them again. Plus I thought it would give me an opportunity to compare my initial impressions, as I put them in the first review of each book I did, with my thoughts on reading it the second time through.

Thus this series, which I’ve named Re-Reading WKK’s Cork O’Connor. I’m re-reading the books in series order. Iron Lake is the first one.

Here’s my original review:

“I was at George Easter’s presentation of the Barry Awards when this won the 1999 Barry Award for Best First Novel published in 1998. I bought a copy at that con, but somehow lost it on the shelves. When I was looking for a book to read on a trip I saw the second, Boundary Waters which reminded me I wanted to read Iron Lake so I bought another copy, the paperback shown, and read it. I’m glad I did.

Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Cork O’Conner was once Sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota but was recalled after a shooting in which circumstances were against him. He didn’t fight it, he didn’t have the heart to. Estranged from his wife and family he lives in and runs a seasonal burger stand on the shore of Iron Lake. When a local and very influential judge is murdered, Cork is caught up in the investigation which eventually leads him to the murderer and some bitter facts.

This book got quite a bit of praise and deservedly so. I was impressed by the skill with which Kruger paints the characters and landscape, as well as the storytelling. Very good, highly recommended.”

Now that I’ve re-read the book, I can’t say there’s a word of that I’d change. Fact is, I liked the book better the second time, in spite of knowing some of what was going to happen. There were a lot of things I didn’t remember or recalled incorrectly. This isn’t a “fair play” mystery so there’s not a lot of misdirection, but my hazy memory of the specifics allowed the few red herrings the author sprinkled in to have a chance to fool me.

Krueger is very good in this first series novel at creating characters who are three dimensional, that the reader can care about, and who live within the spaces, both social and physical, in which the story takes place. I also felt that I could see in my mind’s eye the landscape. As I said in that first review, characters and landscape are the strengths here, but for me, the plot works as well.

This one rates high marks on re-reading. I know other people – friends and bloggers – who did not like this book as much as I did — and still do — but as they say, that’s what makes a horse race. Personally, I liked it even better the second time around.

~  ~  ~  ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts Friday Forgotten Books.
her blog, for more reviews and
a complete list of participating blogs.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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8 Responses to Iron Lake

  1. Todd Mason says:

    Sounds promising, thanks…and a good cover design, while difficult to use as a judgment tool by itself, at least suggests that the publishers cared enough to do a good job in presenting it…

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    I have one of the series but will probably try to find the first rather than starting far down the line.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I tried it once but couldn’t get into it at all. I like Krueger as a person so have always wanted to try it again.

  4. Richard says:

    I have liked all of the books, though the second, Boundary Waters may be my favorite. Setting is such a large part of these novels that I tend to lean towards those that have it be the biggest influence on the events portrayed.

  5. Kent Morgan says:

    I haven’t reread any of the Krueger books, but it remains one of the few series that I still buy in hardcover just as soon as the latest book comes out. Usually I drop what I am reading to get to Cork O’Connor. And yes, Patti, you should start with Iron Lake and then Boundary Waters. After that you could get away with missing one or two.

  6. Richard says:

    Kent – sounds like we’re both pretty big WKK fans, I’m with you on your comments.

  7. Suzanne Lawson says:

    I found WKK while looking to see if CJ Box had written another book. I ordered Iron Lake and it was so good, I’ve ordered the next 5 Cork O’Connor books. Unfortunately, they aren’t arriving in order. I guess I am forced to wait,after reading some of the above remarks, until Boundary Waters arrives.

  8. Richard says:

    Suzanne, yes do wait! The series really is intended to be read in order, though the cases can stand alone, the personal life of Cork develops with each book and needs to be followed in that order. I’m glad you liked Iron Lake, and trust you’ll like the rest, as they just get better. There are now 12 books in the series.

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