Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4)

Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4)

4.1 74
by William Kent Krueger

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Tough-as-nails former small-town sheriff Cork O'Connor is forced into the center of an eerie mystery with a shocking twist in this "vivid and realistic" (Booklist) Anthony Award-winning novel from critically acclaimed author William Kent Krueger

When the corpse of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside

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Tough-as-nails former small-town sheriff Cork O'Connor is forced into the center of an eerie mystery with a shocking twist in this "vivid and realistic" (Booklist) Anthony Award-winning novel from critically acclaimed author William Kent Krueger

When the corpse of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year's Eve, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn's self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O'Connor, Aurora, Minnesota's former sheriff, isn't about to hang the crime on a kid he's convinced is innocent. In an uphill battle to clear Solemn's name, Cork encounters no shortage of adversity. Some -- like bigotry and bureaucracy -- he knows all too well. What Cork isn't prepared for is the emergence of a long-held resentment from his own childhood. And when Solemn reappears, claiming to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow, the mystery becomes thornier than Cork could ever have anticipated. And that's when the miracles start happening...

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Writing as a naturalist, Krueger draws on Indian legends to communicate the mystery of the north woods; as a humanist, he looks to the spirits of the ancients to heal all wounds. — Marilyn Stasio
Publishers Weekly
In his fourth Cork O'Connor mystery (after 2001's Purgatory Ridge), Krueger tells a chilling story with a warm heart. O'Connor, the prickly ex-sheriff of the small town of Aurora, Minn., finds himself in conflict with the new, politically motivated sheriff, Arne Soderberg, when Charlotte Kane, a beautiful but reckless teen, disappears on a drunken snowmobile ride during a New Year's Eve party. A Minnesota blizzard thwarts the search, and decidedly unspiritual O'Connor returns to civilization troubled by supernatural visions in the blinding snowfall. Kane's body doesn't surface until the spring thaw, and then questions about her death arise: the autopsy and evidence at the scene point to murder, and the most likely suspect is Solemn Winter Moon, her brooding, rebellious ex-boyfriend, a lothario from the Ojibwe reservation who has a bad reputation with the citizens of Aurora. Anti-Native prejudice gives way to spiritual controversy when Winter Moon turns himself in after claiming to have seen Christ while seeking a vision from Kitchimanidoo, the Great Spirit. Skeptical of Winter Moon's religious claims but determined to prove his innocence, O'Connor uncovers twisted family drama, frightening religious fervor and suspicious infidelities. Krueger skillfully crafts enough plot twists to keep everybody guessing through the bloody climax to the thrilling end. (Feb. 3) FYI: Krueger's most recent novel is a political thriller, Devil's Bed (2003). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In his fourth case (Purgatory Ridge, 2001, etc.), Cork O'Connor has to solve the mystery of who killed Charlotte Kane. But which Charlotte Kane? Citizens of Aurora, Minnesota, are alarmed by a sudden rise in the community's homicide rate. A few years back the trend would have been less unsettling because everyone trusted Sheriff Cork O'Connor, unlike the uniformed Humpty-Dumptys currently in charge of local law and order. But there's enough cop left in the old campaigner to keep him poised and ready, so when 17-year-old Charlotte Kane, beautiful daughter of reclusive Dr. Fletcher Kane, turns up horribly murdered, Cork answers the call with a modest "someone ought to pay attention." The rich field of suspects includes young Solemn Winter Moon, "a kind of Ojibwe Romeo" Charlotte had played around with for a while; Father Mal Thorne, a Catholic priest with a checkered past; and the worthy Dr. Kane himself, whose relationship with his daughter has a Krafft-Ebing subtext. But it's not until a second corpse is also identified as that of Charlotte Kane that Cork fully understands the fine mess he's expected to untangle. Local color is a plus as always, but Krueger's plotting goes from uncertain to heavy-handed, while the unwaveringly virtuous Cork crosses the edge and becomes too good to be interesting. Agent: Jane Jordan Browne
From the Publisher
-- St. Paul Pioneer Press

-- Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

"Krueger has moved to the head of the crime fiction class with this one."
-- Chicago Sun-Times

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Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Cork O'Connor Series, #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.41(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

January, as usual, was meat locker cold, and the girl had already been missing for nearly two days. Corcoran O'Connor couldn't ignore the first circumstance. The second he tried not to think about.

He stood in snow up to his ass, more than two feet of drifted powder blinding white in the afternoon sun. He lifted his tinted goggles and glanced at the sky, a blue ceiling held up by green walls of pine. He stood on a ridge that overlooked a small oval of ice called Needle Lake, five miles from the nearest maintained road. Aside from the track his snowmobile had pressed into the powder, there was no sign of human life. A rugged vista lay before him -- an uplifted ridge, a jagged shoreline, a bare granite pinnacle that jutted from the ice and gave the lake its name -- but the recent snowfall had softened the look of the land. In his time, Cork had seen nearly fifty winters come and go. Sometimes the snow fell softly, sometimes it came in a rage. Always it changed the face of whatever it touched. Cork couldn't help thinking that in this respect, snow was a little like death. Except that death, when it changed a thing, changed it forever.

He took off his mittens, deerskin lined with fleece. He turned back to the Polaris snowmobile that Search and Rescue had provided for him, and he pulled a radio transmitter from the compartment behind the seat. When he spoke through the mouth hole of his ski mask, his words ghosted against the radio in a cloud of white vapor.

"Unit Three to base. Over."

"This is base. Go ahead, Cork."

"I'm at Needle Lake. No sign of her. I'm going to head up to Hat Lake. That'll finish this section."

"I copy that. Have you seen Bledsoe?"

"That's a negative."

"He completed the North Arm trail and was going to swing over to give you a hand. Also, be advised that the National Weather Service has issued a severe weather warning. A blizzard's coming our way. Sheriff's thinking of pulling everybody in."

Cork O'Connor had lived in the Northwoods of Minnesota most of his life. Although at the moment there was only a dark cloud bank building in the western sky, he knew that in no time at all the weather could turn.

"Ten-four, Patsy. I'll stay in touch. Unit Three out."

He'd been out since first light, and despite the deerskin mittens, the Sorel boots and thick socks, the quilted snowmobile suit, the down parka, and the ski mask, he was cold to the bone. He put the radio back, lifted a Thermos from the compartment under the seat of the Polaris, and poured a cup of coffee. It was only lukewarm, but it felt great going down his throat. As he sipped, he heard the sound of another machine cutting through the pines to his right. In a minute, a snowmobile broke through a gap in the trees, and shot onto the trail where Cork's own machine sat idle. Oliver Bledsoe buzzed up beside Cork and killed the engine. He dismounted and pulled off his ski mask.

"Heard you on the radio with Patsy," Bledsoe said. "Knew I'd catch you here." He cast a longing look at Cork's coffee. "Got any left?"

"Couple swallows," Cork said. He poured the last of the coffee into the cup and offered it to Bledsoe. "All yours."


Bledsoe was true-blood Iron Lake Ojibwe. He was large, muscular, a hair past fifty, with a wide, honest face and warm almond eyes. Although he was now an attorney and headed the legal affairs office for the tribal council, in his early years he'd worked as a logger and he knew this area well. Cork was glad to have him there.

Bledsoe stripped off his gloves and wrapped his hands around the warm cup. He closed his eyes to savor the coffee as it coursed down his throat. "Anything?" he asked.

"Nothing," Cork said.

"Lot of ground to cover." Bledsoe handed the cup back and glanced north where the wilderness stretched all the way to Canada. "It's a shame, nice girl like her, something like this." He dug beneath his parka and brought out a pack of Chesterfields and Zippo lighter. He offered a cigarette to Cork, who declined. He lit up, took a deep breath, and exhaled a great white cloud of smoke and wet breath. He put his gloves back on and let the cigarette dangle from the corner of his mouth. Nodding toward the sky in the west, he said, "You hear what's coming in? If that girl didn't have bad luck, she'd have no luck at all."

Cork heard the squawk of his radio and picked it up.

"Base to all units. It's official. We've got us a blizzard on the doorstep. A real ass kicker, looks like. Come on in. Sheriff says he doesn't want anyone else lost out there."

Cork listened as one by one the other units acknowledged.

"Unit Three. Unit Four. Did you copy? Over."

"This is Unit Three. Bledsoe's with me. We copy, Patsy. But listen. I still haven't checked Hat Lake. I'd like to have a quick look before I head back."

"Negative, Cork. Sheriff says turn around now. He's pulling in the dogs and air search, too. Weather service says it's not a storm to mess with."

"Is Wally there?"

"He won't tell you anything different."

"Put him on."

Cork waited.

"Schanno, here. This better be good."

Cork could see him, Sheriff Wally Schanno. Grim, harried. With a missing girl, a whale of a blizzard, and a recalcitrant ex-sheriff on his hands.

"I'm just shy of Hat Lake, Wally. I'm going to check it out before I turn back."

"The hell you are. Have you taken a good look behind you?"

Glancing back to the west, toward the cloud bank that was now looming high above the tree line, Cork knew time was short.

"It would be a shame to come this far and not make it that last mile."

"Bring yourself in. That's an order."

"What are you going to do if I don't? Fire me? I'm a volunteer."

"You want to stay on Search and Rescue, you'll come back now. You read me, Unit Three?"

"Loud and clear, Sheriff."

"Good. I expect to see you shortly. Base out."

Schanno sounded weary deep down in his soul. Cork knew that the sheriff would turn away from the radio to face the family of the missing girl, having just reduced significantly the chances of finding her alive. For Cork, being out there in the cold and the snow with a blizzard at his back was infinitely preferable to what Sheriff Wally Schanno had to deal with. Once again, he was exceedingly glad that the badge he himself had once worn was now pinned to the chest of another man.

"Guess that about does it," Oliver Bledsoe said.

"I'm going to check Hat Lake."

"You heard the sheriff."

"I've got to know, Ollie."

Bledsoe nodded. "You want a hand?"

"No. You go on back. I won't be more than half an hour behind you."

"Schanno'll skin you alive."

"I'll take my chances with Wally."

Cork climbed onto the seat, kicked the engine over, and shot east in a roar of sparkling powder.

He hated snowmobiles. Hated the noise, a desecration of the silence of the deep woods that was to him a beauty so profound it felt sacred. Hated the kind of people snowmobiling brought, people who looked at the woods as they would an amusement park, just another diversion in the never-ending battle against boredom. Hated the ease with which the machines allowed access to a wilderness that could swallow the ignorant and unwary without a trace. The only value he could see in a snowmobile was that it allowed him, in a situation like this, to cover a large area quickly.

By the time he reached Hat Lake, the dark wall of cloud behind him stretched north and south from horizon to horizon, completely blotting out the late afternoon sun. The sight gave Cork chills that had nothing to do with the temperature. He found no sign of a snowmobile on the trail that circled the lake. Exactly what he'd suspected, but he wanted to be certain. The wind rose at his back. He watched ghosts of snow swirl up and pirouette across the lake ice. Except for the dancing snow and the trees as they bent to the rising wind, nothing moved. Not one flicker of life across the whole, frigid face of that land.

Copyright © 2004 by William Kent Krueger

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Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Cork O'Conner is now the ex-sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, but when a young high school girl goes missing one New Year's Eve, and shows up dead in a snow mobile crash in the spring thaw, Cork finds himself in the center of the investigation.  A young "bad boy" Ojibwa, Solemn, seems to be the most likely suspect for his former girlfriend's murder.  Cork believes he's innocent, and besides Cork has a soft spot for the boy because of his connection to the Ojibwa man who basically raised Cork.  The new sheriff, and much of the towns folks would just as soon convict the "Indian" and close the case.  Things get more complicated when Solemn claims to has seen and heard Jesus speak to him.  Then miracles begin happening in the town, and people come from all around to be "healed".  Through all these distractions, Cork must sift through all the possible people who might have had cause to kill the girl. William Kent Kruger develops interesting characters and situations to creat a mystery that is very original.  Clues, answers, and surprises develop very naturally within this continuing saga of the O'Conner family and the people of Aurora. This is a colorful and thoroughly interesting series that lines up with the likes of C J Box and Craig Johnson.  Krueger is a writer that can take a seemingly simple story and develop intrigue beyond the average writer.  I become more engrossed with his writing with each of his books!!
Fitzlegs More than 1 year ago
Kreuger's characters are very believable. They have positive qualities, but sometimes take the wrong path and pay the consequences. His descriptions of Upper Minnesota are a delight to read. After I read Kreuger's first book, Iron Lake, I kept reading book 2, book 3, etc. I am now reading book 12. I will be sad when I have finished the series, and have no more stories of Cork O'Connor and his family to enjoy. Krueger is a serious writer. His plots are all different-no cookie cutter plots and predictable formulas. I happily recommend this book to anyone who likes a well written, good book.
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Can't stop reading this series!!!
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I am loving this newest installment of Cork OConnor. It's a great, page turning read! Cork is so real and likable. Mr Krueger is a great storyteller...
jwtbiker More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed William Kent Krueger novels. They are based on normal people with normal lives. Keeps you wondering up to the end.
jcorkran More than 1 year ago
Reading the series in order because I like to know what Krueger is talking about, I enjoyed numbers 3 and 4 considerably more than the first two. It's like Krueger has finally found his pace and style. Blood Hollow has a number of wonderful twists and turns that I did not expect, which serve to make the story more interesting. I will definitely keep reading the series!
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3rdsister More than 1 year ago
This is my 2nd "Cork O'Connel" book. I like William Krueger's writing style. The story is captivating and suspenseful with out going to far into the dark side. Can't wait to read another!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series just keeps getting better and better. Just about the time I think I know who the bad guys are, they change. Very enjoyable books.