Trickster's Point (Cork O'Connor Series #12)by William Kent Krueger
The latest in the New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series—the action never stops when the private detective ends up in the crosshairs of a political assassin.In Trickster’s Point, the unsinkable Cork O’Connor is sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith known as Trickster’s Point,/i>/b>/i>/i>/i>
The latest in the New York Times bestselling Cork O’Connor mystery series—the action never stops when the private detective ends up in the crosshairs of a political assassin.In Trickster’s Point, the unsinkable Cork O’Connor is sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith known as Trickster’s Point, deep in the Minnesota wilderness. Beside him is the first Native American governor-elect, Jubal Little, who is slowly dying with an arrow through his heart. Although the men have been bow hunting, this is no accident. The arrow in the governor’s heart belongs to Cork.
When he becomes the primary suspect in the murder, Cork understands full well that he’s been set up. As he works to clear his name and track the real killer, he recalls his long, complex relationship with Jubal, the Native kid who aspired to be a populist politician and grew to become a cunning man capable of treachery and murder. As Cork looks deeply into his own past, he comes face to face with the many motives, good and ill, that lead men and women into the difficult, sometimes deadly, political arena.
With crisp writing filled with the twists and turns his fans have come to expect, Krueger delivers another knockout novel of suspense.
Read an Excerpt
The walls of the interrogation room of the Tamarack County Sheriff’s Department were dull gray and completely bare. There were no windows. It was furnished with two chairs and a plain wooden table nudged into a corner. The subject of an interview sat in a straight-back chair with four legs that rested firmly on the floor. The interviewer’s chair had rollers, which allowed movement toward or away from the subject. On the ceiling was what appeared to be a smoke detector but, in reality, concealed a video camera and microphone that fed to a monitor and recording system in the room next door. The interview room was lit from above by diffuse fluorescent lighting that illuminated without glare. Everything had been designed to be free from any distraction that might draw the subject’s focus away from the interviewer and the questions. Cork knew this because he’d had the room constructed during his own tenure as sheriff of Tamarack County.
Although he wore no watch and there was nothing in the room that would have clued him about time, Cork knew it was late afternoon. Around five o’clock, more or less. Captain Ed Larson had removed his own watch, a standard procedure when questioning a suspect in the interview room. Timelessness was part of the protocol for keeping the subject focused only on what was happening inside the small box created by those four bare walls. This was Cork’s third round of questioning about the death of Jubal Little that day and was the most formal so far.
The first interview had taken place at Trickster’s Point while the techs were processing the crime scene. It had been Sheriff Marsha Dross herself who’d asked the questions. Cork was pretty sure nobody really thought then that he’d killed Jubal Little. Marsha was just trying to get a good sense of what had gone down. It wasn’t until he told her that he’d sat for three hours while Jubal died that she gave him a look of incomprehension, then of suspicion.
The second interview had been conducted an hour and a half later in her office back at the department. Ed Larson had been present for that one. He was in charge of major crimes investigation for Tamarack County. He’d let Marsha ask the questions—more of them this time and more probing—and had mostly observed. At the end of that round, he’d asked if Cork was hungry and would like something to eat or drink. Cork wanted nothing, but he said yes anyway.
While the food was coming, they moved to the interview room, just Larson and Cork this time, but Cork knew that Dross would be watching on the monitor next door.
Deputy Azevedo brought in the meal. He looked at Cork as if he didn’t know him at all, though they’d been acquainted for years.
“On the table,” Larson told him, and the deputy set the tray down and left. “Go ahead and eat, Cork,” Larson said. “I just want to look over a few of my notes.”
He pulled a small notepad from the inside pocket of his sport coat. Larson always looked and dressed more like a college professor than a cop. He had gold wire-rim glasses and wore honest to God tweed jackets with patches on the elbows. He was nearing sixty, more than a half dozen years older than Cork, and still had an enviable head of hair that was a distinguished silver-black. He was already on the force when Cork first joined as a deputy more than twenty years before. They’d become friends, and Cork had a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. As soon as Cork was elected sheriff, he’d put Larson in charge of investigating major crimes.
While Cork sat at the table and ate, Larson pretended to go over his notes. Cork knew that, in reality, Larson was more interested in his appetite, knew that people who’d committed a violent crime were often so troubled by what they’d done that they couldn’t eat. So Cork made as if he hadn’t had a bite of food in a month and rammed down every crumb of his cheeseburger and gulped every drop of coffee.
“Thanks,” he said when he’d finished.
Larson looked up from his notepad and, with his index finger, eased his glasses a quarter of an inch higher on the bridge of his nose. It was a gesture he sometimes made unconsciously when he was about to do something that was uncomfortable for him. “Cork, I know you know the drill. I’ve got to make sure that you understand your rights.”
“Miranda,” Cork said.
“Miranda,” Larson acknowledged and went through the litany.
“It’s official then?” Cork said.
“I’m officially a suspect.”
Larson squinted, a look of pain. “In my shoes, how would you see it?”
“I’ve been in your shoes. And I know how I’d see it, Ed. If our situations were reversed, I wouldn’t believe for a moment that you’d killed Jubal Little.”
“Tell me why, if I were in your shoes, I would have waited three hours before trying to get him some help.”
“I wasn’t trying to get him help. He was already dead when I left him.”
“Okay, so why didn’t you go for help as soon as you understood the seriousness of the situation?”
“I’ve told you. Jubal asked me to stay.”
“Because he was afraid?”
“Jubal?” Cork shook his head. “No, not Jubal. Never Jubal.”
“You were his only hope of surviving, and yet he insisted that you stay. I don’t understand.”
“He knew he was going to die, and he didn’t want to die alone.”
“You couldn’t have carried him out?”
“He hurt whenever I tried to move him, hurt a lot. It was that broadhead arrow tip tearing him up inside. I didn’t want to give him any more pain. If I’d tried to carry him out, he would simply have died sooner.”
“So you just sat there and watched him go?”
“No. I listened to him. I think that was the main reason he didn’t want me to leave. He wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to. You know how politicians are.”
Larson gave a startled look that quickly turned critical. “There’s nothing humorous in this situation, Cork.”
“I’m not sure Jubal saw it that way. The last thing he did on this earth was smile, Ed.”
He could see that Larson didn’t believe him. Probably he didn’t believe a lot of what Cork had said so far.
“Did you have your cell phone with you?”
Cork shook his head. “We were out there to get away from a world of phone calls. But even if I’d taken my cell phone, it wouldn’t have mattered.”
“Coverage is hit and miss up there. But around Trickster’s Point, especially, nothing gets through.”
“And why’s that?”
Cork shrugged. “Ask the Ojibwe, and they’d tell you it’s just Nanaboozhoo messing with you.”
“The Trickster. That’s his territory.”
Larson stared at him. His face reminded Cork of a ceramic doll with all the features painted on and none of them capable of moving. Larson looked down at his notes. “You had breakfast at Johnny’s Pinewood Broiler before you headed out. You had a cheese omelet, and Jubal Little had cakes and eggs over easy. When you left, you both spent a few minutes standing out on the sidewalk, arguing.”
Cork said, “Did you find Heidi or did she come looking for you?”
He was talking about Heidi Steger, their waitress at the Broiler that morning.
Larson didn’t answer but said instead, “What did you argue about?”
“We didn’t argue. It was more like a heated discussion.”
“What did you discuss, then, so heatedly?”
“Politics, Ed. Just politics.”
Larson maintained his ceramic doll face for a long moment, and Cork, in that same long moment, returned his steady gaze.
“Okay,” Larson finally went on. “You said he talked a lot as he was dying. What did he talk about?”
“First he talked about that arrow, whether to try to remove it. Jubal wanted to, I didn’t. Then I tried to leave to get help. Jubal wanted me to stay. After that, he talked about life. Or I should say his life. It was so Jubal of him, but understandable under the circumstances. He had a lot of regrets. Toward the end, he was in and out of consciousness. When he was awake, he mostly rambled. It was hard to make much sense of anything.”
“Did he say who’d shot him?”
“He didn’t have to. We both knew who he believed it was.”
“Who was that?”
“He thought it was me.”
“He thought you were trying to kill him?”
“He thought I’d shot him by accident.” Which was the only lie Cork had told in any of the interviews that day.
“You meant to shoot him with that arrow?”
Cork refrained from smiling at the obvious and shallow trap and told him once again, “It wasn’t me who shot Jubal.”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you see anyone else?”
“Hear anyone else?”
“So, as far as you know, you were both alone out there?”
“Clearly not. Whoever shot that arrow was out there with us.”
In the beginning, Larson had positioned his chair near to Cork, making the interrogation a more intimate affair, just between the two of them. Between friends, maybe. Now he backed off a couple of feet and asked, rather indifferently, “Do you consider yourself a good bow hunter, Cork?”
“Fair to middling.”
“When you hunt, you’re a purist, right? You do still-stalking. No deer blind. You actually track the animal on foot.”
“I’m guessing you’d have to be tuned in to all the sounds around you, wouldn’t you? Reading all the signs?”
Cork understood the thrust of Larson’s questions. If there was someone else at Trickster’s Point with them, why didn’t Cork know it?
“Must take incredible stealth,” Larson said.
“That all depends on what you’re after,” Cork replied.
“You were after white-tail deer, weren’t you?”
Cork said, “Ed, what I was really after is something you can’t understand, and if I say it, you’ll misconstrue my meaning.”
“I’ll do my best to understand.” He promised with such earnest appeal that Cork knew he was telling the truth.
So Cork offered his own truth in return. He said, “I was hunting Jubal Little.”
Meet the Author
William Kent Krueger is the award-winning author of ten Cork O’Connor novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Vermilion Drift and Northwest Angle. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit WilliamKentKrueger.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I am new to the world of Cork O'Connor. In fact, let me be truthful...I'm a bookseller who rides the bus, and had finished off my latest book during lunch. On my way out the door, I picked up an advance readers copy, not really expecting much. Was so swiftly engrossed in this novel...the characters, the premise, and within 24 hours of starting it, the resolution. Now the good thing about finding an author who is well into a series is that you have his previous novels to fulfill your fix. And, this I did. In fact, sideboarded my carefully laid out reading list in order to read the eleven preceeding this. May I say the first three have kept me intrigued. You go into a mindset here, where characters take precedence over a plot. Plot, well crafted, brings you back to the characters. If this is your introduction to Cork O'Connor, relish it-as well as knowing you can find previous episodes....k
Another great book, have read all in the series and not disappointed by any of them. All great reads.
This has been the best of the series so far. Sad ending though.
This was a great read, as are all of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor books. Again, we are reminded just how human Cork is in that his past is such an integral part of why he stayed and let his old childhood chum bleed out rather than drive out for help. Revisiting his past and how he got to where he finds himself in this book, squarely under suspicion for murder, is a riveting read. I got my first book in this series as part of the Nook Free Friday selection. I am so glad they offered it since it introduced me to this series. I feel like I have also gotten a culture lesson about the native Americans living in Minnesota and how they have joined white mans society but retained so much of their culture.
I purchased this as a pre-order and waited for it to be available. Boy, I was not disappointed. It is in my opinion, the best book in the series Mr. Krueger has written. Good plotting, great characters and even better dialogue. A real five star winner.
I love his booksd and they always keep you coming back for more. Great book.
I'm so glad I discovered this author. (I do believe it was from a free Friday book offer, his first book. It worked because I then subsequently ordered the rest of the series.) Cork is one of my favorite characters. Its an excellent mystery and the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place by the end of the book. I will preorder his next book again like I did this book.
I always look forward to the next installment in this series. Within a few pages I feel like I am greeting an old friend. You haven't seen them in a while, but it's like you've always been with them. I think it is a combination of Mr. Krueger's excellent job of developing and maintaining his character's identity and his ability to tell a good story in an interesting way. I hope this series continues.
Excellent book! The book starts with a hunting trip and Cork becoming the main suspect in the hunting accident death of his friend. Cork doesn't believe it wasn't an accident. We watch Cork progress between dealing with his emotions and his past growing up. Excellent thriller and mystery. This series is a joy to read and just keeps getting better.
Cork O’Connor has faced many perplexing situations in this long-running series set in Upper Minnesota. None, however, is as stunning as takes place in this latest chapter, perhaps because it begins at Trickster’s Point, where, according to Native American legend nothing is what it seems as the spirits play games. At the foot of the monolith sit Cork and Jubal Little, the presumptive future Governor of Minnesota. An arrow protrudes from Jubal’s chest, right through his heart. He asks Cork to remain with him rather than go get help, and it takes three hours for him to die, during which he rambles on, sort of confessing many past transgressions, but really leaving more questions than answers. The arrow is an exact replica of those Cork makes for himself, leading to the suspicion that Cork may have killed his boyhood best friend. And Cork has to solve this mystery to exonerate himself. Another body is found nearby, that of a white man with a rifle. Who is he, and why is he there? Was he to have been backup in case the killer missed his target? While the murder mystery is an essential element of the novel, more important is the look at the relationships of the various characters, to each other and to the locale. The author’s appreciation of Native American culture and the environment in which the story takes place is, as usual, sensitive and insightful. Jubal is an enigmatic character, almost too large to be believed. Cork, however, continues to grow with each new entry in the series. Highly recommended.
I got an ARC and this is really good. See below... Trickster’s Point by William Kent Krueger Atria Books, 2012 Review by Ed Shannon Perhaps joy and hope are strange words to describe a murder mystery; but with a writer of William Kent Krueger’s skill, suspense and mystery rise above normal descriptors. The newest novel in Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, Trickster’s Point, is not only tightly crafted and plotted but also a joy to read. Set in the beauty of Northern Minnesota, the novel begins with O’Connor being interrogated about the death of Jubal Little, the odds on favorite to win Minnesota’s election for Governor. The initial evidence points to Cork and drives him to clear himself and search for the murderer of his childhood friend. Filled with credible suspects and motives, the novel follows Cork as the past and present flow together in a mystery that continually surprises and examines the nature of love and friendship, of the complexities of human nature. An integral part of the joy in this novel, as well as the entire series, is the manner in which Krueger combines a taut mystery and Native American culture with the humanity of his main character, Cork O’Connor. Cork is flawed but also much more. He is named Ogichidaa, one who stands between--between his people and evil. Cork rises above tragedy and danger in a search for truth; but truth is not always justice, justice not always truth. He must strive to balance his Shinnob heritage and his law enforcement background as he faces the darkness of human nature while protecting his people, friends, and family. This conflict as well as the central murder mystery make Cork O’Connor one of the most intriguing protagonists in the entire suspense genre. In fact, he is so well crafted that Krueger’s novels rise above the label of genre to those books that force us to face our own humanity, our own flaws. Joy and hope. Yes, the writing is a joy with its well-plotted mystery and flowing description of Minnesota’s natural beauty. Yes, there is joy in Cork’s acceptance of the existence of tragedy and evil but also in an unending belief in hope. Hope that light overcomes darkness, that balance can be achieved. This hope is inherent in the Shinnob culture, in Cork’s Irish Catholic heritage and is skillfully achieved in William Kent Krueger’s novels.
I thoroughly enjoy Kruegers characters, especially Cork O'Connor. He writes about the boundary water area up North and the Indian culture. I've read every book he has written and wait for the next.
Couldn't put it down, great characters and descriptive writing. I have to find more of this author!
After so many books in a series some authors begin to get predictable with the story lines. Not so with William Kent Krueger! He still keeps me caught up in each and every story and still surprises me in the end with a twist here and a turn there. I love the growth of the characters in each book and this one did not disappoint with Cork starting to move on with a new love interest and I love that his son is growing in a spiritual way.
Big fan of Wm Kent Krueger--got me hooked with "Iron Lake". Have recommended his series to lots of people. Trickster's Point is a great continuation of the Cork O'Connor saga. Great opening up to the interrogation that sets the theme. However, I'm not sure how Cork's 'thesis statement' to the investigator was really true. But I'll leave that to other literary critics who like to parse the plots more precisely than I do.
I have enjoyed each of the books in this series and this one was no disappointment. I like the little twists the author presents and you usually don't see the ending coming. I highly recommend to anyone that likes a good mystery.
I have loved all of this series
Another winner from Krueger. I have enjoyed all of his Cork O'Conner series. The hardest part is waiting for the next book.
Being from minnesota it has been fun reading this series. I enjoyed everyone.
I love this series.
another excellent book in an excellent series
Amazing. Krueger's prose really does transport you to Northeastern MN. Very satisfying read.