Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

November 8th, 2023 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 6 Comments

8th Nov

Sophia Rose is sharing the first audiobook in the Cork O’Connor mystery series. Written by William Kent Krueger and narrated by David Chandler, come see why Sophia gave this story five coffee cups.

Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger
Iron Lake
by William Kent Krueger
Series: Cork O’Connor #1
Narrator: David Chandler
Length: 11 hours and 57 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Source: Library
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.2x

Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran "Cork" O'Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota - population 3,752. Embittered by his "former" status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago's South Side, he's found that there's not much left in life that can shock him. But when the town's judge, Robert Parrant, is brutally murdered, and Eagle Scout Paul LeBeau is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption and scandal.

Sophia Rose’s Review

Having been introduced to this book via a fan of the series, it was a matter of when, not if I would dive into the Cork O’Connor series.  And, it wasn’t long before I was having the age old feeling of ‘why did I wait so long…’ Iron Lake hit the emotions, senses, and intellect so that I was immersed in the story as told by new to me narrator, David Chandler.

Iron Lake starts out with a prequel of a young Cork O’Connor on a bear hunting trip with a family friend.  Then the book jumps forward to the present and starts from the perspective of a teenage boy who’s out in a northern Minnesota snow storm just before Christmas delivering newspapers. He comes to the last house on his route, crusty old Judge Parrant, when he hears the explosion of a rifle shot. He disappears not long after that and his desperate mother goes to ex-sheriff Cork O’Connor, who may have a tarnished rep, a disconnect with his ancestry and family, and a poor sense of self, but she trusts him to find her son.

Cork’s about as down and out as he’s ever been, and I do relish an underdog for a protagonist. He’s got cop skills and instincts, he knows this rural county which includes the local Anishinaabe reservation, forests, and lakes not far from Great Lake Superior.  He is estranged from his wife, Jo, an attorney on the rise working with a senator whose star is on the rise not just in local and state politics, but nationally.  She gets small amounts of the narration as do a few other supportive characters throughout, to add good perspective to the story. 

There are scenes Cork gets with his kids and with a special lady he has fallen for since his wife told him to leave.  There is blame to both sides and I appreciated the author went for realistic with the nuances of the intertwined relationships. 

There are some scenes when Cork is confronted by Anishinaabe prickly about how he’s lived his life in the white world and whites who think he’s standing against them.  He’s still looking for peace from the racial tension raging inside himself let alone in the outside world.

Cork is going through more than the emotional stress.  Some toughs beat him up to get him off the investigation, and he’s got so many pieces and few answers.  He gets to the point that he suspects even his few friends and people he thought he trusted.  He’s long since become a cynic of about anything a person can believe in because of life kicking him hard.  I’m not even touching so much in plot, but there is a wealth of layers and background to the story and the characters, especially Cork.

I liked seeing the rural locality and culture of the area play a major role, the biting Minnesota winter was a part of the suspense, the legend of the Windigo add an interesting, chilling mystical element, and there were some really exciting, breath-stealing action scenes and twists to the case. 

I put my finger on the who and why, but then saw that evidence was pointing elsewhere.  More dead bodies come after and made me doubt my guess and go with another and yet another.  It was obviously a wonderfully complex murder mystery.

David Chandler had several characters to voice and a tone to set for the book.  He did a superb job and I hope he voices the rest of the series because, yes, I am not stopping at Iron Lake.  And, now I’m recommending Iron Lake to other mystery and thriller fans who like a down and out hero and a rural setting.

Amazon | Audible

About William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger

Raised in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, William Kent Krueger briefly attended Stanford University—before being kicked out for radical activities. After that, he logged timber, worked construction, tried his hand at freelance journalism, and eventually ended up researching child development at the University of Minnesota. He’s been married for nearly fifty years to a marvelous woman who is a retired attorney. He makes his home in St. Paul, a city he dearly loves.

Krueger writes a mystery series set in the north woods of Minnesota. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage—part Irish and part Ojibwe. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, and the Friends of American Writers Prize. His last nine novels were all New York Times bestsellers.

Ordinary Grace, his stand-alone novel published in 2013, received the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America in recognition for the best novel published in that year. The companion novel, This Tender Land, was published in September 2019 and spent nearly six months on the New York Times bestseller list.

About David Chandler

David Chandler is an Earphones Award–winning narrator who has read numerous titles for New York Times bestselling authors William Kent Krueger and C. J. Box, among others.

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About Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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6 Responses to “Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger”

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, he’s a prolific writer and I want to read lots more of his work, but this series is one I’ll be focusing on after listening to this one.

  1. Anne - Books of My Heart

    I’m so glad you read and enjoyed it. Great review ! The series goes a long way from here. Chandler didn’t narrate a few of the middle books but they were re-recorded with him over the last 5 years so now they are all available in David Chandler narration. There is so much ahead and it’s an amazing series. As an aside, David Chandler also narrates the Joe Pickett books with another law enforcement type in a brutal scenic rural area with cultural divides.

    Anne - Books of My Heart recently posted: Forgotten Trail by Claire Kells @kathkells @crookedlanebks