Windigo Island (Cork O'Connor Series #14)

Windigo Island (Cork O'Connor Series #14)

4.2 25
by William Kent Krueger
     
 

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Cork O’Connor battles vicious villains, both mythical and modern, to rescue a young girl in the latest nail-biting mystery from New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the

Overview

Cork O’Connor battles vicious villains, both mythical and modern, to rescue a young girl in the latest nail-biting mystery from New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on the shore of an island in Lake Superior, the residents of the nearby Bad Bluff reservation whisper that it was the work of a deadly mythical beast, the Windigo, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu. Such stories have been told by the Ojibwe people for generations, but they don’t explain how the girl and her friend, Mariah Arceneaux, disappeared a year ago. At the request of the Arceneaux family, Cork O’Connor, former sheriff turned private investigator, takes on the case.

But on the Bad Bluff reservation, nobody’s talking. Still, Cork puts enough information together to find a possible trail. He learns that the old port city of Duluth is a modern-day center for sex trafficking of vulnerable women, many of whom are young Native Americans. As the investigation deepens, so does the danger.

Yet Cork holds tight to his higher purpose—his vow to find Mariah, an innocent fifteen-year-old girl whose family is desperate to get her back. With only the barest hope of saving her from men whose darkness rivals that of the legendary Windigo, Cork prepares for an epic battle that will determine whether it will be fear, or love, that truly conquers all.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
William Kent Krueger, who draws his stories from Indian life and legend in the rugged north woods of Minnesota, writes with fresh passion and purpose in Windigo Island
Publishers Weekly
★ 06/30/2014
Edgar-winner Krueger highlights the vulnerability of Native American youth in his excellent 14th Cork O’Connor novel (after 2013’s Tamarack County). PI Cork, a former Minnesota sheriff, reluctantly investigates the disappearance of 14-year-old Mariah Arceneaux, who left her home near Bad Bluff, Wis., a year earlier. The battered body of the friend who accompanied her, Carrie Verga, recently washed ashore on Windigo Island in Lake Superior. A plea for help from Mariah’s diabetic mother, Louise, to the sage Henry Meloux ends with Cork’s older daughter, Jenny, rashly vowing to help save Mariah. This move forces Cork’s hand, putting him on the trail of a ruthless man called Windigo. Jenny, Louise, and centenarian Henry play key roles as the mission tests both spiritual and physical powers. Krueger paints a vivid picture of the sordid cycle of poverty, abuse, alcoholism, and runaway (or throwaway) children on the reservation, and reminds us of the evil of men all too willing to exploit the innocent. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Aug.)
Booklist
“...hold-your-breath suspense, heightened by the isolating blizzards of a Minnesota winter and the eerie presence of a stalker.... Because Krueger works in the history of his characters’ relationships in a clear and elegant way, this exceptionally scary suspense story will prove riveting for both newcomers to the series and readers who have followed Cork as he and his family have aged and grown.”
Booklist (starred review)
“...hold-your-breath suspense, heightened by the isolating blizzards of a Minnesota winter and the eerie presence of a stalker.... Because Krueger works in the history of his characters’ relationships in a clear and elegant way, this exceptionally scary suspense story will prove riveting for both newcomers to the series and readers who have followed Cork as he and his family have aged and grown.”
Dennis Lehane
“A pitch-perfect, wonderfully evocative examination of violent loss. In Frank Drum's journey away from the shores of childhood—a journey from which he can never return—we recognize the heartbreaking price of adulthood and it's 'wisdoms.' I loved this book.”
Huffington Post
Praise for Ordinary Grace:

“Once in a blue moon a book drops down on your desk that demands to be read. You pick it up and read the first page, and then the second, and you are hooked. Such a book is Ordinary Grace…This is a book that makes the reader feel better just by having been exposed to the delights of the story. It will stay with you for quite some time and you will always remember it with a smile.”

Lansing Journal (Michigan)
“Krueger is in fine form in this superb, highly atmospheric tale, deftly capturing a wide range of emotions and conflicts between assorted characters. . .you’re in for a real treat.”
The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Windigo Island:

“William Kent Krueger… writes with passion and purpose.”

Bookreporter
“Krueger demonstrates his penchant and ability for finding deep, rich and new veins of stories from the seemingly inexhaustive mine of the rural and deceptively peaceful northern Minnesota and its surrounding environs."
New York Times Book Review
“William Kent Krueger…writes with fresh passion and purpose in Windigo Island.”
Columbus Dispatch
“Krueger juggles a large cast of characters deftly and doles out clues to the mystery judiciously. More important, he recognizes the complexity of this place and its people.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Krueger is skillful in many things — creating strong characters, building drama and conflict, braiding in Indian legend and spirituality, and spinning a good yarn — but sense of place may well be his forte.”
Duluth News Tribune
“Krueger at his page-turning best — but this time with a higher purpose.”
Library Journal
03/15/2014
Residents of the Bad Bluff reservation blame a mythical beast called the Windigo when the body of a teenage Ojibwe girl washes up on an island in Lake Superior. But private eye Cork O'Connor thinks that rampant sex trafficking is the explanation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476749259
Publisher:
Atria Books
Publication date:
08/19/2014
Series:
Cork O'Connor Series , #14
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
10,279
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Windigo Island

  • Chapter 1

    Fear is who we are.

    Cork’s old friend Henry Meloux had told him that. Though not quite in that way. And it was only part of what the ancient Ojibwe Mide had said. These were his exact words: In every human being, there are two wolves constantly fighting. One is fear, and the other is love. When Cork had asked which of the wolves won the battle, Meloux’s answer had been: The one you feed. Always the one you feed.

    In his own life, Cork had known more than his share of fear. He carried scars from multiple gunshot wounds and was scarred, too, in ways that never showed on skin. He’d lost his wife to violence, lost friends in the same manner. More than once, men whose hearts were black holes of hate had targeted his children, and he’d come close to losing them as well. In all this, fear had sometimes been the wolf he’d fed. But as Meloux had wisely observed, love also shaped the human spirit, and it was this element of his being that Cork had consciously done his best to feed. In far more ways than fear, this wolf had shaped the man he was.

    There were different kinds of fear, Cork knew, and some had nothing to do with violence. They were sought out purposely, sought for the sake of excitement, an adrenaline rush—a roller-­coaster ride, for example, or a ghost story. When he finally began his investigation, Cork discovered that it was the desire for this kind of fear that had brought the three boys to the cursed place the Anishinaabeg called Windigo Island.

    When they set out that moonlit night, this was what the boys knew, what all the local kids knew: On Windigo Island, death came in the dark. It came in the form of an awful spirit, a cannibal beast with an insatiable craving for human flesh. Sometimes the beast swept in with the foul odor of carnage pouring off its huge body and a bone-chilling scream leaping from its maw. Sometimes it approached with stealth and wile, and in the moment before it ripped your heart from your chest, it cried your name in a high, keening voice. It could be unpredictable, but one thing was certain: to set foot on Windigo Island in the dead of night was to call forth the worst of what the darkness there held.

    They’d shoved off in their kayaks a few minutes before midnight from the marina on the shore of Lake Superior. It was late July, hot, and there was not a breath of wind. A gibbous moon had risen over the Apostle Islands. The water of Kitchigami was black satin, smooth and shiny. Behind them, the lights of the reservation town of Bad Bluff curved along the shoreline of that greatest of the Great Lakes, and the three boys paused in their paddling and turned back to admire the sequined hills. Then wordless, because it was night and an excursion that called for silence, they pushed on, following the path the moonlight burned in silver across the water.

    Ahead of them rose the island. It wasn’t much to look at in daylight. A rough circle a couple of dozen yards in diameter, all of it broken rock, an island so tiny it appeared only on detailed nautical charts. From its center rose a tall, ragged pine, a tree that had somehow managed to put down roots in that humping of stone and had held to it tenaciously through season after season of November gales. The Ojibwe believed the pine was a lightning rod of sorts, a beacon attracting the evil spirits of Kitchigami to that cursed island. Not just the windigo but Michi Peshu, too, a monster that lived in the depths, a creature with horns and the face of a panther and razor-sharp spikes down its back and, some said, the body of a serpent. To the boys on that night, the tree looked like a black feather rising stiffly from the head of a skull almost completely submerged. They approached in silence, the only sound the dip of their double-bladed paddles and the burble of water as they stroked. They came at the island from the west and eased their kayaks up to the rocky shoreline. They disembarked one at a time, drew their crafts out of the water, and laid them carefully across the broken stone. The moonlight was intense, casting shadows of the ragged pine boughs across the boys like a black net, and they stood a moment, caught in the eerie mystique of the island.

    Then one of the boys farted. The long, low growl broke the spell, and they laughed, released from the grip of their own fear.

    “Dude,” one of them said. “You let the windigo know we’re here.”

    “Dude,” the offending boy replied, “that was to keep him away.”

    The third boy waved a hand in front of his face. “If that smell doesn’t drive him off, nothing will.”

    “Okay, what now?” the first asked.

    The third boy reached into the opening of his kayak and brought out a knapsack. From it he pulled a can of white spray paint. “We find the biggest rock that faces town.”

    Which they did. It stood a good four feet high and had a nice flat vertical surface. In the daylight, it would have been dull gray, but in the shadow of the pine that night, it was as black as char.

    The third boy knelt in front of the rock, as if praying, gave the can a good shake, then carefully sprayed his message: KYLE B + LORI D.

    “How’s she going to see it?” the second boy asked.

    “Binoculars, dude, binoculars. I told her I was going to come out here to do this thing and the hell with the windigo.”

    The first boy stood back and admired the other’s work. “Awesome. Totally.”

    And that’s when the wind hit.

    On a lake like Superior, weather can develop suddenly. That night the wind came out of nowhere, sweeping in from the vast open water. The limbs of the pine began flailing wildly, and waves rose up and crashed against Windigo Island and ate the rocks. No storm cloud obscured the stars or the unblinking eye of the moon, nothing to account for the phantom torrent of air that carried with it a frigid cold churned up from the depths. There was something in this wind that was terrible, something unnatural, and the boys could feel it. They stood frozen, feeding the wolf of fear suddenly prowling inside them.

    “Hey, you guys,” the first boy hollered over the cry of wind. “Did you hear that?”

    “What?” the third boy shouted.

    “I heard it,” the second boy called back. His voice was a high screech because, in his terror, his throat had closed nearly shut. He stared wide-eyed at the third boy. “Your name. It called your name.”

    The third boy turned from his companions, turned his face into that furious wind, and listened. He didn’t hear what they’d heard, but he saw something that made his blood run cold. In the black roil of the lake, just beneath the surface, a figure, luminescent white under the glare of the moon, swam toward them.

    “Oh, God,” the first boy cried. “Michi Peshu!”

    He spun and fled, stumbling over the broken rocks toward his kayak. The second boy was close on his heels. The third boy turned, too, but caught his foot in a crevice between two stones and his ankle gave in an agonizing twist. He went down with a cry of pain that was snatched away by the wind. His companions didn’t hear. They were already on the water, already digging the blades of their paddles into the swells. The boy cried out for them, but they didn’t look back.

    Then he heard it. What they’d heard. His name. His name called in a high, keening voice that was carried inside the howl of wind. And he saw the white form sliding toward him in the black water, the monster Michi Peshu coming, and he watched it slither onto the rocks, and he knew a fear such as he’d never known before.

    The wolf inside him opened its hungry mouth and prepared to feed.

  • Meet the Author

    William Kent Krueger is the award-winning author of fourteen previous Cork O'Connor novels, including Tamarack County and Windigo Island, as well as the novel Ordinary Grace, winner of 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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    Windigo Island: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 25 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I stumbled onto William Kent Krueger in the spring and now have read this whole series! Love it and can't wait for more. I hate long out reviews that give away everything..WKK doesnt disappoint try it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A battle of good and evil, mythical and true to life in this latest entry in the Cork O'Connor series. Krueger does a terrific job spinning the tale of a lost Ojibwe girl and the hunt to find her that takes some very dark turns. A good read.
    CheriAnne More than 1 year ago
    Powerful story. Another intense Cork O'Connor adventure with lots of Henry Meloux's wisdom.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Dab56468 More than 1 year ago
    Hands down, the best Cork O'Connor book yet.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    YAY!!!! ^~^
    tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
    When the body of a 14-year-old Ojibwe girl washes up on Windigo Island, a rocky outcrop on Lake Superior, Cork O’Connor and his daughter, Jenny, embark on a crusade to rescue another teenager, Mariah, who had run away from home with her, ending up as prostitutes in Duluth, pimped by a man known, strangely enough, as Windigo. The windigo is a mythical beast thought to rip hearts out of bodies and eat them, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu, according to Ojibwe lore. With the help of Mariah’s cousin, a game warden, her mother, and Henry Meloux, Cork and Jenny follow a thin trail to find the girl with little help from other victims of the pimps who are virtually brainwashed and refuse to talk, or a very few others. What follows is an exciting investigation that leads to the uncovering of an extensive sex trafficking ring, many of whose victims are Native Americans steeped in poverty and abuse, especially in the Duluth and Twin Cities areas. The novel graphically portrays the squalid cycle of poverty, abuse, alcoholism and runaway children on the reservations and the men who prey on them. Once again, the author has the opportunity to demonstrate a deep empathy for the Ojibwe, their values and traditions, as well as describing his love of the North Woods. All this and one of the most exciting finishes recently read by this reviewer. Highly recommended.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    John_F48 More than 1 year ago
    This story discusses forced prostitution in the poor American Indian community and ranges even a little farther from Minnesota geographically than many of the Cork O'Connor to date. It also shows Cork as an aging vulnerable father that cannot protect his adult daughter and feels guilty about it. The story begins with a request to investigate the disappearance of a a middle teens girl from a remote portion of the many indian reservations in the Lake Superior area. It ends with some vigilante justice and a familly having come to terms with what has happened.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Krueger has done it again. Couldn't put it down.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    cvtreader More than 1 year ago
    One of my favorite writers. Krueger keeps the stories fresh and interesting.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I've read all the Cork O'Connor series and Krueger just gets better. I like all of his books. I use to be a C.J. Box fan, but like Krueger so much better.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Ive read all of this series and this book was the worst. I believe he is running out of ideas and will not buy another one. It became very tedious reading
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Yasss
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If he leaves.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Is staying.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Eagerly awaited, but terribly disappointed-plot contrived.