Since the violent deaths of his wife, father, and best friend all occurred in previous Novembers, Cork O’Connor has always considered it to be the cruelest of months. Yet, his daughter has chosen this dismal time of year in which to marry, and Cork is understandably uneasy.
His concern comes to a head when a man camping in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness goes missing. As the official search ends with no recovery in sight, Cork is asked by the man’s family to stay on the case. Although the wedding is fast approaching and the weather looks threatening, he accepts and returns to that vast wilderness on his own.
As the sky darkens and the days pass, Cork’s family anxiously awaits his return. Finally certain that something has gone terribly wrong, they fly by floatplane to the lake where the missing man was last seen. Locating Cork’s campsite, they find no sign of their father. They do find blood, however. A lot of it.
With an early winter storm on the horizon, it’s a race against time as Cork’s family struggles to uncover the mystery behind these disappearances. Little do they know, not only is Cork’s life on the line, but so are the lives of hundreds of others.
A taut, suspenseful thriller, Manitou Canyon features everything readers love in a Cork O’Connor novel: a dramatic Northwoods setting, an intriguing view of the Objibwe culture, an enigmatic crime, masterful storytelling, and more than a few surprises.
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In the gray of early afternoon, the canoes drew up to the shoreline of the island. The paddles were stowed. The woman in the bow of the first canoe and the kid in the bow of the second stepped onto the rocks. They held the canoes steady while the men in the stern of each disembarked and joined them. The kid grabbed a rifle from the center of the canoe he’d come in, then lifted a pack. He studied the island and the great stand of red pines that grew there.
“Where to?” he said.
“First, we hide the canoes,” the man who was the oldest and tallest said.
They carried the crafts from the lake a dozen yards into the trees. The tall man in the lead and the woman with him set their canoe behind a fallen pine, and the kid and the other man did the same.
“Want to cover them with boughs or something?” the kid asked.
“Break off boughs and someone will know we were here,” the tall man said. “This’ll do.”
They returned to the shore where they’d left their gear. The kid grabbed his rifle and reached for a pack.
The woman said, “I’ll carry that. You see to your rifle.”
She shouldered the pack, and the tall man started toward the interior of the island. The others followed, wordless and in single file.
On some maps, the island was called by its Ojibwe name: Miskominag. On others, it was called Raspberry. Words in different languages that meant the same thing. They walked inland through the pines, passed bushes that in summer would have been full of berries, but it was the first day of November, and all the plants except the evergreens were bare. They came to a great upthrust of rock, a kind of wall across the island, and the tall man began to climb. The others spread out and found their own ways up. The top of the outcropping stood above the crowns of the trees. From there, they could see the whole of the lake, a two-mile-long, horseshoe-shaped body of water three-quarters of a mile across at its widest point. The water of the lake was the same dismal color of both the sky above them and the rock outcropping on which they stood. The gray of despair.
“Where will he come from?” the kid asked, his eyes taking in all that water and shoreline.
“The south,” the tall man said. “Over there.” He pointed toward a spot across the lake.
The kid looked and said, “All I see is trees.”
“Try these.” The tall man unshouldered the pack he’d carried, set it down, and drew out a pair of binoculars. He handed them to the kid, who spent a minute adjusting the lenses.
“Got it. A portage,” the kid said. He returned the binoculars to the man. “What now?”
The others unburdened themselves of their packs. The shorter of the two men—he had a nose that was like a blob of clay plopped in the middle of his face—took a satellite phone from his pack and walked away from the others.
The woman said to the kid, “Hungry?”
She pulled deer jerky and an orange from her pack and offered them.
“Wouldn’t mind some hot soup,” the kid said.
“No fires,” the tall man told him.
“He won’t be here for a long time,” the kid said.
“The smoke would be visible for miles. And the smell would carry, too,” the tall man said.
The kid laughed. “Think there’s anybody besides us way the hell out here this time of year?”
“Out here, you never know. Enjoy your jerky and orange.”
The tall man walked away, studying the whole of the lake below. The wall fell off in a vertical cliff face, a tall palisade several hundred yards long. A few aspen had taken root and clung miraculously to the hard, bare rock, but they didn’t obscure the view. There was nowhere on the lake that wasn’t visible from that vantage. The woman followed him.
“He’s too young,” she said with a note of gall. “I told you.”
“He’s strong in the right ways. And a far better shot than me or you, if it comes to that.”
He looked back at the kid, who’d already eaten his jerky and was peeling the orange while intently studying the place along the shoreline where the trees opened onto the portage. The woman was right. He was young. Seventeen. He’d never killed a man, but that’s what he was there for. To do this thing, if necessary.
“When the time comes,” the tall man said, “if he has to do it, he’ll be fine.” He turned from the woman and rejoined the others.
The man with the formless nose said, “Sat phone’s a problem. These clouds.”
“Did you get through?”
“Only enough to say we made it. Then I lost the signal.”
The kid sat on a rock and cradled his rifle in his lap. He leaned forward and looked at the lake, the trees, the shoreline, the place where the man would come.
“Does he have a name?” the kid asked.
“What difference does it make?” the woman said.
“I don’t know. Just wondered.”
“Everyone has a name,” the woman said.
“So what’s his?”
“Probably better you don’t know. That way, he’s just a target.”
The tall man said, “His name’s O’Connor. Cork O’Connor.”
The kid lifted his rifle, sighted at the shoreline.
Behind him, the woman whispered, “Bang.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kent's descriptions alone are worth the read. A compelling story that became a page-turner.
Gripping plot; vividly alive and alluring descriptions of nature and details of native truths and wisdom.
One of the best books I have read in quite a while.
I have read the authors books over the past few years and have found them very entertaining. The stories utilize the same characters which makes it easy to dive into for a good read. I will await Krueger's next book. And with the family growing, there is no telling where he'll travel, or who will need his help. Your all time fan.
Like picking up an old friend in the Cork OConnor series. Characters fit well with prior books or would stand by them selves. Earthy style that is a relaxing book to curl up by the fireplace with.
Enjoyed continued story line, can't wait on next story. Left several pen opportunities.
Not Mr. Krueger's best effort. Looked like he might have had writer's block against a obligatory publisher's due date. A meandering tale artificially keeping the reader in the dark as to motive, and then letting us in on a rather lame climax. Maybe Cork is pooped.
I have really enjoyed all of his books but I found this one on the boring side. I found myself skipping over parts especially with the family narratives, which were every other chapter of part of one. Disappointing.
Of the fifteen volumes in the excellent Cork O’Connor series, this latest is one of the best. It finds Cork in the midst of at least two conspiracies during which he probably learns more about himself than he has in a long time. It is November, a month in which he has undergone several tragedies, including the death of his wife. In a depressed mood, his daughter’s wedding looms in a couple of weeks. The Cork is approached by the grandchildren of a boyhood friend he has not seen in decades, who has gone missing in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to try to find the man despite a two-week search-and-rescue operation having failed and efforts called off. Instead of the couple of days by which Cork promised his daughter to return, he and the accompanying granddaughter go missing as well. And this leads to some of the best writing and descriptions in a series that abounds in such efforts as Cork and the woman are captured and with their captors trudge and canoe northward to Canada. Meanwhile back home Cork’s family and friends realize something has gone wrong and they fly to Raspberry Lake looking for him. With winter setting in, it becomes a race not only for survival for the group that captured Cork, but also for his rescuers. As is usual, the author gives the reader deep insight not only into Ojibwe culture but the Northwoods environment in which the story takes place. Highly recommended.
I feel like im there either in the forest,lake,canoe with the characters.
Didn't want to put it down!
William Kent Krueger’s MANITOU CANYON is one of his best works. His writing is so descriptive and insightful, thoughtful and provocative. His writing evokes such a ‘sense of place’ that I feel that I know this ‘Boundary Waters Area’ intimately. “The trees lining the path felt like dark walls that day, and the narrow strip of sky above was like a ribbon torn from some soiled and shabby fabric.” His characters are familiar to me, like close friends or neighbors. The plots play out as morality plays. Tensions weave in and out of every character, movement and place. MANITOU CANYON does not disappoint in any way.