Lightning Strike (Cork O’Connor #0) by William Kent Krueger

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Simon & Schuster 3. Sheriff’s Badge [Public Domain] via Public Domain Vectors 4. Lake Superior National Park [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia

Cork O’Connor is a 12-year-old son of Liam O’Connor, the local sheriff in Aurora (a town in Minnesota). His father investigates the death of an American Indian man found hanging in an old logging camp, generally assumed by the white residents to be a suicide. However, the Native Americans are suspicious of foul play, and the O’Connor family becomes involved in escalating racial tension. The story is told in retrospect as the prequel to the Cork O’Connor Mystery series.

“Find a place where your head and your heart can talk to each other…Maybe then you will see clearly.”

The author explores the cultural tensions between white and Ojibwe in 1963 Minnesota using the death of an American Indian which is being investigated by a white lawman. This makes it not just a straightforward mystery, and as The Real Book Spy comments: “To simply call Lighting Strike a mystery novel feels wrong, given the number of themes and issues (many of which are still relevant today) that are touched on.” The narrative is easily followed, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying about the author: “suspenseful measured pacing, his accomplished prose and his carefully crafted plot” Star Tribune


“When Cork began his route, it still felt like night. The new day was just a vague suggestion of a lesser dark along the eastern horizon.”

“He knew there was no magic to wipe clean the slate of memory. You just learned how to move on.”

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