Purgatory Ridge (Cork O'Connor Series #3) [NOOK Book]


Winner of the prestigious Loft-McKnight Fiction Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, William Kent Krueger has established himself as a startlingly original voice in thriller fiction. With Purgatory Ridge he cements his standing as a suspense writer of the highest caliber.

Not far from the small town of Aurora (population 3,752) lies an ancient two-hundred-acre ...
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Purgatory Ridge (Cork O'Connor Series #3)

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Winner of the prestigious Loft-McKnight Fiction Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, William Kent Krueger has established himself as a startlingly original voice in thriller fiction. With Purgatory Ridge he cements his standing as a suspense writer of the highest caliber.

Not far from the small town of Aurora (population 3,752) lies an ancient two-hundred-acre expanse of great white pines, sacred to the Anishinaabe and known to them as Minishoomisag (Our Grandfathers).

Wealthy industrialist Karl Lindstrom does not have a reputation as a sensitive environmentalist, and some members of the Anishinaabe tribe are concerned about the proximity of the trees to his lumber mill. So when an explosion at the mill results in the death of a night watchman, it's obvious whom suspicion will fall upon.

Cork O'Connor, in the throes of straightening out his life and repairing his marriage, is asked by his successor as sheriff to help with the investigation. His sense of community obliges him to accept, but Cork has distinctly mixed feelings about the case. For one thing, he is part Anishinaabe himself. For another, his lawyer wife, Jo, represents the tribe.

Meanwhile, in a secluded house that overlooks the lakeside home of the Lindstrom family, a reclusive shipwreck survivor and his sidekick also seem to be harboring some resentment of their own against the industrialist. And it soon becomes clear to Cork that harmony, both at home and in the town, will be on the back burner for some time.

William Kent Krueger's precise and atmospheric prose, combined with his keen eye for the telling details of small-town life and his vivid sense of the land and seascapes of northern Minnesota, will impress and delight both his old fans and those discovering him for the first time.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Krueger's page-turner revisits Cork O'Connor, the part-Irish, part-Anishinaabe/Ojibwe ex-sheriff of Aurora, Minn., a tiny lumber town on the edge of the Superior National Forest, whose exploits were depicted in Boundary Waters. This narrative opens with a bang, as Karl Lindstrom's lumber mill explodes in the early morning hours, killing Ojibwe elder Charlie Warren. The local Native Americans are up in arms over Lindstrom's plan to cut down Our Grandfathers, a grove of old-growth white pines sacred to tribal lore. Outside conservationists have also descended on the town, eager to save the 300-year-old trees. When a person identifying himself as the Eco-Warrior, soldier of the Army of the Earth, claims responsibility for the bombing, the Native Americans are suspected of collusion as Cork's wife, Jo, attorney for the tribe, protests their innocence. Cork had lost his job as sheriff two years before, largely because of inflammatory editorials by Helm Hanover, publisher of the local newspaper, but he cannot stay uninvolved in this case. The quest to identify the Eco-Warrior bomber ultimately focuses on a young outsider, Brent Hamilton, and his zealous mother, who was crippled in a similar bombing. But the number of suspects widens to include Hanover, rumored to be the commander of the secret militant Minnesota Civilian Brigade, and John LePere, lone survivor of the Alfred M. Teasdale, a freighter that sank on Lake Superior six years earlier, drowning his brother, whose body has never been found. Two kidnappings occur. Karl Lindstrom's wife, Grace Fitzgerald, novelist and daughter of the man who owned the freighter, is abducted, and Cork's wife and six-year-old son are also taken as the Eco-Warrior demands $2 million for their safe return. The plot comes full circle as credibly flawed central characters find resolution. Despite some histrionic plot devices, Krueger prolongs suspense to the very end. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Near Aurora, Minnesota, a major environmental-industrial dispute exists. The Anishinaabe tribe wants the two hundred acres of great white pines that are sacred to them as "Old Grandfathers" protected from the lumber industry. Karl Lindstrom's lumber mill resides on the edge of the forest and he is not known for his conservation methods. As is the case in many local arguments, outsiders come marching in to join the Native American protesting the cutting down of the trees.However, all hell breaks loose when someone blows up the mill, killing a Native American employee. The industrial moguls blame the Anishinaabe tribe and the law agrees even though someone named the Eco-Warrior claims credit for the deed. Though he lost his job as sheriff a couple of years ago, Cork O'Connor, at the pleading of his wife Jo, the tribe attorney, begins to search for the identity of the terrorist. As he conducts the search, the Eco-Warrior adds kidnapping and ransom demands to his crime list. Purgatory Ridge is an exciting ecological thriller that keeps the suspense and action at high levels throughout the tale. When the story concentrates on the central theme of conservation vs. development, the plot is as good as it gets. In those circumstances, all the key characters seem genuine in their beliefs. When the story line spins into sidebars like the ransom kidnapping it appears as if a plot device has been used to add unnecessary tension to an already strong novel. Award winning William Kent Kreuger has written a one-sitting tale that will send sub-genre fans off to read the previous O'Connor books (see Boundary Waters and Iron Lake).
Kirkus Reviews
Third suspenser set in hardscrabble Aurora, Minnesota, featuring ex-sheriff Cork O'Connor (Iron Lake, 1998; Boundary Waters, 1999), whose lawyer wife represents the Anishinaabe tribe. The tribe holds sacred a great white pine woods they call Minishoomisag, or Our Grandfathers. Lumberman Karl Lindstrom's mill lies close by the sacred wood—too close, say the Anishinaabe. The area becomes as feverish as the red sun through smoke arising from the sawmill following a mysterious explosion that kills a night watchman. Many locals want Cork to run for sheriff again and take on the case. Trouble is, Cork is part Anishinaabe himself and with the Anishinaabe under suspicion, and with his wife as their lawyer, the wiser course isn't easily chosen. Krueger's stripped storytelling wins no prize for fine prose but does move straight down the track toward purgative vengeance and devastation.
From the Publisher
"Suspenseful, compelling, and highly readable." — The Dallas Morning News

"The end of this masterfully plotted novel was such a surprise I'm still trying to figure out how Krueger did it." — St. Paul Pioneer Press

"A wonderful page-turner." — The Denver Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439120002
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Series: Cork O'Connor Series, #3
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 17,652
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

William Kent Krueger
William Kent Krueger is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen mysteries in the Cork O’Connor series, including Trickster’s Point and Tamarack County, as well as the novel Ordinary Grace, which won the 2014 Edgar Award for Best Novel. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family. Visit his website at WilliamKentKrueger.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Corcoran O'Connor was pulled instantly from his sleep by the sound of a sniffle near his head. He opened his eyes and the face of his six-year-old son filled his vision.

"I'm thcared," Stevie said.

Cork propped himself on one arm. "Of what, buddy?"

"I heard thomething."

"Where? In your room?"

Stevie nodded.

"Let's go see."

Jo rolled over. "What is it?"

"Stevie heard something," Cork told his wife. "I'll take care of it. Go back to sleep."

"What time is it?"

Cork glanced at the radio alarm on the stand beside the bed. "Five o'clock."

"I can take him," she offered.

"Go back to sleep."

"Mmmm." She smiled faintly and rolled back to her dreaming.

Cork took his son by the hand, and together they walked down the hallway to where the night-light in Stevie's room cast a soft glow over everything.

"Where was the noise?"

Stevie pointed toward the window.

"Let's see."

Cork knelt and peered through the screen. Aurora, Minnesota, was defined by the barest hint of morning light. The air was quite still, not even the slightest rustle among the leaves of the elm in Cork's backyard. Far down the street, the Burnett's dog Bogart barked a few times, then fell silent. The only thing Cork found disturbing was the smell of wood smoke heavy on the breeze. The smoke came from forest fires burning all over the north country. Summer had come early that year. With it had come a dry heat and drought that wilted the undergrowth and turned fields of wild grass into something to be feared. Lake levels dropped to the lowest recorded in nearly a century. Rivers shrank to ragged threads. Creeks ceased to run. In shallow pools of trapped water, fish darted about wildly as what sustained them rapidly disappeared. The fires had begun in mid-June. Now it was nearly the end of July, and still the forests were burning. One blaze would be controlled and two others somewhere else would ignite. Day and night, the sky was full of smoke and the smell of burned wood.

"Do you still hear it?" Cork asked.

Stevie, who'd knelt beside him, shook his head.

"Probably an early bird," Cork said.

"After a worm." Stevie smiled.

"Yeah. And he must've got that worm. Think you can go back to sleep?"


"Good man. Come on."

Cork got him settled in bed, then sat in a chair near the window. Stevie watched his father a while. His eyes were dark brown, the eyes of his Anishinaabe ancestors. Slowly, they drifted closed.

Cork's son had always been a light sleeper, awakened easily by noises in the night, disturbances in the routine of the household. He was the only one of the O'Connor children who'd needed the comfort of a night-light. Cork blamed himself. In Stevie's early years, when the dark of his closet or under his bed first became vast and menacing, Cork wasn't always there to stand between his son and the monsters of his imagination. There were times, he knew, when the monster was real and was Cork. He thought often these days of the words that ended the traditional marriage ceremony of the Anishinaabeg.

You will share the same fire.

You will hang your garments together.

You will help one another.

You will walk the same trail.

You will look after one another.

Be kind to one another.

Be kind to your children

He hadn't always been careful to abide by these simple instructions. But a man could change, and watching his son crawl back into his dreaming, Cork vowed -- as he did almost every morning -- to work at being a better man.

By the time Cork finally left Stevie to his dreaming, morning sunlight fired the curtains over the window at the end of the hallway. Cork thought of returning to bed for a little while, but chose instead to head to the bathroom, where he showered, shaved, splashed on aftershave, then looked himself over carefully in the bathroom mirror.

Corcoran Liam O'Connor was forty-seven years old. Part Irish, part Ojibwe Anishinaabe, he stood five feet eleven inches tall, weighed one hundred seventy-five pounds, and had brown eyes, thinning red-brown hair, and slightly crooked teeth. He suffered from mild rosacea that he treated with prescription ointment. In wet weather, his left shoulder -- twice dislocated -- was prone to an arthritic aching. He did not consider himself a handsome man, but there were those, apparently, who found him so. All in all, what stared back at him from the bathroom mirror was the face of a man who'd struggled to be happy and believed himself to be almost there.

He returned to his bedroom, a towel about his waist. The radio alarm had gone off and WIRR out of Buhl was playing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Cork went to the dresser, pulled open a drawer, and took out a pair of black silk boxers.

Jo stirred. She took a deep breath but kept her eyes closed. When she spoke to him, the words seemed to come reluctantly and from a distant place.

"Stevie all right?"

"He's fine."

"Another fire's started. Up in the Boundary Waters near Saganaga Lake." She yawned. "I just heard it on the news."


"Get this. The guy who started it is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. He was shooting off fireworks. In the Boundary Waters -- can you believe it?"

"I hope they fine his ass big time," Cork said.

"He's a tobacco lawyer. He can pay from his pocket money." The room was quiet. Bogart started barking again down the block. "I can feel you watching me."

"What else?"

"I smell Old Spice."

"Anything else?"

"If I had to guess, I'd say you've put on your black silk boxers."

"What a detective you would have made." He sat on the bed, leaned down, and kissed her shoulder.

"I was dreaming before the radio came on." She rolled toward him and opened her eyes.


"We were trying to fly, you and I. A plane we had to pedal. But somehow we couldn't quite get it off the ground."

Cork reached out and brushed a white-blond strand of hair from her cheek.

She reached up and drifted her hand down his chest. "You smell good."

"Only Old Spice. You have pedestrian tastes."

"And, my, aren't you lucky."

He bent to her lips. She let him kiss her but kept her mouth closed. "I'm all stale. Give me five minutes." She slid from the bed. She wore a gray tank top and white cotton underwear, her usual sleep attire. "Don't start anything without me." She smiled coyly as she went out the door.

Cork drew back the covers, straightened the bottom sheet, fluffed the pillows, and lay down to wait. The bedroom window was open. Bogart had ceased his barking and the only sound now was the call of a mourning dove perched in the big maple in the front yard. Aurora, Minnesota, deep in the great North Woods, riding the jagged edge of the Iron Range, had not yet wakened. This was Cork's favorite time of day. Although he couldn't actually see it, he could picture the whole town perfectly. Sunlight dripping down the houses on Gooseberry Lane like butter melting down pancakes. The streets empty and clean. The surface of Iron Lake on such a still morning looking solid as polished steel.

God, he loved this place.

And he'd begun to love again, too, the woman who now stood in the doorway with a gold towel wrapped about her and tucked at her breasts. Her hair was wet. Her pale blue eyes were wide awake and interested. She locked the door behind her.

"We don't have much time," she said in a whisper. "I think I heard Stevie stirring."

"We're the experts at putting a lot into a little time."

He smiled wide, and widely he opened his arms.

An explosion kept them from beginning anything. The house shook; the windows rattled; the mourning dove fell silent, frightened to stillness or frightened away.

"My God," Cork said. "What was that?"

Jo looked at him, her eyes blue and shiny. "I think the earth moved. Without us." She glanced at the window. "Sonic boom?"

"When was the last time you heard a sonic boom around here?"

From the hallway beyond the bedroom door came the sound of voices, then a knock.

"Jo? Cork?"

"Just a minute, Rose." She blew Cork a kiss. "Rain check." She headed to the closet and grabbed a robe from the door hook.

Cork quickly exchanged his silk boxers for a pair of jogging shorts and went to the window. He stared north over the roofs of Aurora where a column of smoke rose thick and black somewhere beyond the town limits. Just above the ground, the air was calm and the smoke climbed straight up four or five hundred feet until it hit a high current that spread it east over Iron Lake. The sky was a milky blue from the haze of the distant forest fires. Against it, the smoke from the nearer burn was dark as crude oil.

At his back, Cork heard the door unlock. Rose stepped in, Stevie at her heels.

"Whatever that was, it didn't sound good." Rose tugged her beige chenille robe tight about her broad waist and stuffed her plump, freckled hands into the pockets. She was Jo's sister and for more than fifteen years had been part of the O'Connor household.

Stevie ran to his father. "Thomething blew up."

"I think something did, buddy." Cork put his arm around his son and motioned the others to the window, where they huddled and stared at the huge smoke cloud fanning out above the lake.

The siren on Aurora's only fire station began to wail, calling the volunteers to duty.

"See the direction that smoke's coming from?" He glanced at Jo. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

From the concern on her face, it was clear to him that she was. She straightened and turned from the window. "I'd better go."

"I'll come with you." Cork started toward the dresser to get his clothes.

"Cork." Jo put a hand on his arm to restrain him gently. "I have clients to protect. I need to be out there. But there's no reason for you to go. You're not the sheriff anymore." She seemed reluctant to add that last bit of a reminder, as if she were afraid that even after all this time, it still might hurt him.

He smiled gamely and said, "Then let's just chalk it up to morbid curiosity."

Copyright © 2001 by William Kent Krueger
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 104 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 3, 2013

    PURGATORY RIDGE is the third installment of the Cork O'Conner my

    PURGATORY RIDGE is the third installment of the Cork O'Conner mysteries.  Though no longer the sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, when the local lumber mill is bombed, resulting in the death of a local Native American tribesman, Cork is asked to help in the investigation.  Many possibilities for suspects eventually evolve as environmentalists and the local tribes are protesting the lumbering of a sacred stand of old growth trees called the "Old Grandfathers". Then the lumber mill-owner's wife and son, along with Cork's wife and son , are kidnapped with a ransom demand for 2 million dollars. 

    Suspense builds with the addition of another suspect, the only survivor of a sunken ship from a number of years ago,  who has been mourning the death of his brother during that sinking.  He believes the mill owner's wife's family is responsible for the sinking by sabotaging the ship for the insurance money.  With the building of suspects and clues developing into a serious case, the conclusion is a complete surprise. 

    Krueger's mysteries are enhanced by the cultural differences between the Native Americans and the whites, with Cork being mixed blood, and his wife as the lawyer for the tribe.  There are also marital issues between Cork and his wife, as they have come together again, after both strayed with other partners.  They have three children, two of whom now help Cork run their restaurant.  These many and varied issues greatly add to the interest of Krueger's books.  The atmosphere of the Minnesota surrounds is also a character in itself, building suspense with the wild weather, and many land formations.  Excellent continuation of the Cork O'Conner series!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    Hooked on this series!

    I got the first in this series as either a freebie or a cheapie, I can't remember. But a quarter of the way into #1, I looked up and bought #2, then halfway thru that, bought #3 and #4. I haven't read 4 yet. I will buy the whole series eventually, I'm sure.
    Very well written and exciting with just enough personal stuff to keep you rooting for them.
    The mysteries keep you guessing and sometimes you'll guess the bad guy, but I've been surprised in 2 of 3, as I guessed wrong! I love when that happens!
    I highly recommend this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2012

    A real thriller with an unexpected ending you will not see coming.

    I do not want to delve into the plot too much. Suffice it to say the book centers on the clash of three cultures-the culture of the modern industrialist who wants to mine the precious ore in the earth, the environmentalists who are rabid in their approach and the Anishinaabs Indians who have cared for Mother Earth for centuries. Krueger's main character in his series of books about Aurora Minnesota and the Indian Reservation that borders the town, is Cork O'Connor. Cork is a real person. He was the sheriff before being voted out of office. He is a good man with a mixed heritage: 3/4 Irish and 1/4 Anishinasb. His heritage frequently draws him into many disputes between the whites and the indians which end in bloodshed on both sids. The book is a real thriller. The plot is well done with an ending that will be a surprise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    Definitely becoming a favorite author!

    Great storytelling, you can picture the beauty of this world and lose yourself in it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    This series keeps getting better!

    The first book was originally a "Free Friday" selection that Barnes & Noble's Nook customers get to enjoy. It helped me to discover a wonderful mystery writer. I am neither a mystery reader nor a series reader, but here I am really enjoying this mystery series! Why do I like this writer? I enjoy books with high quality prose, and mysteries are usually very plot driven, and often the creation of interesting characters and sense of place are not well-developed. But this one does both. Plus this plot IS complex and intriguing as well. The reader really gets a strong sense of north Minnesota and the Lake Superior setting, the small-town life in Aurora and Tamarack County and the Ojibwe Anishinaabe Indians. Their culture and people are main characters that blend in seamlessly with the tapestry of characters. You never feel like you are reading ethnic literature, but really you are! I won't go into the plot here (you can read it yourself on Goodreads), but I will say, each successive book keeps getting better as the author fine tunes his writing style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012


    These books are awesome! Cork O'Conner is awesome! I'm flying through these books and every page keeps me on the edge of my seat! Being a native Minnesnowtan and my love of the north woods adds to the excitement!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2014

    Excellent read and story line.

    Follow of the family life of cork o'connor, love the Americans flavor in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014


    Once a branch off the Med Den but now its own seperate cave. You can see where the stones blocked off the other entrance to the med den's cave sistem, this den is smaller than the warriors den. Filled with not as many, and smaller beds. Its entrance is beside the Med Den's, and is now the Apprentices' Den.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Highly recommend

    Mr. Krueger is so original. You feel like you are in the setting. He does not follow the usual mystery patterns of story telling. I love the Cork O'Connor character because he is flawed but honorable. The native American history of the families is so interestingly peppered throughout the
    series. I have looked foforward to each book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    I recommend this series. 4/5 stars

    This was another great book in the series - hope there are more coming!Anyone who is interested in mysteries and/or Native American lore will like these. No sex, some descriptive violence, but not too much.

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  • Posted March 11, 2014

    A very good story set in the North Woods of Minnesota and Michigan

    This story brings together elements of past hardship, exploitation of the emotions brought on by guilt of being the only survivor of a shipwreck, rage against the perceived negligent shipping company owners, kidnapping, and terror. Cork O'Connor must figure out who the evil doer's are and save two families, part of his own and the shipping company's owner's daughter and her son. You don't know until close to the very end who the evil master-mind is and what his fate is. It is a very enjoyable tale with vulnerable characters surviving and some dieing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    Highly Recommend!

    I started out reading just books one and two in the "Cork O'Conner" series and before I knew it I was ordering the entire series available.
    I finish one and can't wait till I start the next. William Kent Krueger is a wonderful writer that keeps you involved with his main character
    "Cork O'Conner".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Great #3 in Series

    Loved this book. Full of adventure and suspense. Still reading the
    series and enjoying it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    This is the third in the Cork O'Connor series, and I plan on rea

    This is the third in the Cork O'Connor series, and I plan on reading all of them! This book was just as exciting as the first two; the author makes you feel like you are a part of the community. I was completely caught by the surprise ending! I highly recommend this to those who love a great "who did it" book.

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    Typical spellbinding Krueger work

    W Krueger follows plot and script that works. It keeps me turning pages.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    William Kent Krueger is a great story teller.

    Loving this series! I will definately read more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    I liked it very much. Recommended to my friends.

    I enjoyed a new cast of characters for a police, mystery, family and area of the country novel. I have read 1, 2, and 3 and enjoyed them all.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    a very good fast read

    I have enjoyed all of Krueger's novels that I have read. He is able to keep me interested in the novel and writes about areas that are believeable. Down to earth charachters. jwtbiker

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    Could not put it down!

    Love this whole series... Great characters and story line!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Pretty good

    Not my typical genre, but i really like this series so far. If you like murder mystery and native american folklore, definitely give this series a shot.

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