Summary and book reviews of Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

Lightning Strike

Cork O'Connor Mystery Series #18

by William Kent Krueger

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger X
Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger
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  • Published:
    Aug 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

The author of the instant New York Times bestseller This Tender Land returns with a powerful prequel to his acclaimed Cork O'Connor series - a book about fathers and sons, long-simmering conflicts in a small Minnesota town, and the events that echo through youth and shape our lives forever.

Aurora is a small town nestled in the ancient forest alongside the shores of Minnesota's Iron Lake. In the summer of 1963, it is the whole world to twelve-year-old Cork O'Connor, its rhythms as familiar as his own heartbeat. But when Cork stumbles upon the body of a man he revered hanging from a tree in an abandoned logging camp, it is the first in a series of events that will cause him to question everything he took for granted about his hometown, his family, and himself.

Cork's father, Liam O'Connor, is Aurora's sheriff and it is his job to confirm that the man's death was the result of suicide, as all the evidence suggests. In the shadow of his father's official investigation, Cork begins to look for answers on his own. Together, father and son face the ultimate test of choosing between what their heads tell them is true and what their hearts know is right.

In this masterful story of a young man and a town on the cusp of change, beloved novelist William Kent Krueger shows that some mysteries can be solved even as others surpass our understanding.

PROLOGUE
JANUARY 1989

On his first day as the newly sworn-in sheriff of Tamarack County, Minnesota, Cork O'Connor seated himself behind the desk that came with the badge. The desk, clear at the moment of all but a morning paper, a ceramic mug that held pens rather than coffee, and a framed family photograph, was a mosaic of scars and cigarette burns, the legacy of his father and the other men who'd sat behind that desk before Cork. He wore the khaki uniform he'd ironed himself for the swearing-in ceremony, which had been held that morning in the county courthouse a block away. His wife, Jo, had been there, along with his three young children and his sister-in-law, Rose. Sam Winter Moon had come, and Cork had been especially pleased to see Henry Meloux at the back of the courtroom. The old Mide had sat erect and expressionless, but his presence—and Sam's—in that place where the Anishinaabeg had sought but seldom received justice spoke to the hope they now held.

Cork felt ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The book begins with an older Cork O'Connor looking back on a childhood summer that changed his life. Do you have any similar experience of a pivotal moment when you were growing up that changed you, or an event that made you suddenly feel like more of an adult?
  2. When Cork first sees Big John's body hanging from the tree, he begins to cry and says, "I'm sorry, Big John. I'm sorry." Why do you think he says that?
  3. Why don't the people on the reservation trust Liam's conclusion that Big John's death is a suicide? What is the history between the people who live on the reservation and those in law enforcement in Aurora? How does Dilsey, Liam's mother-in-law, try to help connect Liam and the people on the reservation, and why does she get so ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Krueger delivers a masterful strike down the middle with the riddle of Big John's death; Lightning Strike will keep experienced mystery readers guessing until the very end about who was responsible and how it was engineered. For those new to the series, it's a prequel that also works as a powerful standalone novel, richly told and sensitive to the issues of race and class between "The First People" and their white neighbors...continued

Full Review (605 words).

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(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Krueger winds back time, literally and symbolically ... suspenseful measured pacing, his accomplished prose and his carefully crafted plot.

Publishers Weekly
Krueger makes the youthful version of his lead plausible, as well as his detective abilities. Longtime fans will relish Cork's rich backstory.

Library Journal (starred review)
This sensitive, moving prequel introduces and draws readers into the series. Krueger has written another perceptive coming-of-age novel, the poignant story of a father and son trying to understand each other. It provides Cork O'Connor's backstory for those who haven't read the series.

Author Blurb Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Four Winds and The Nightingale
William Kent Krueger is a master storyteller at the top of his game with Lightning Strike. A pitch perfect, richly imagined story that is both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and an evocative, emotionally-charged coming of age tale that explores the complex bonds between fathers and sons and the long simmering animosities of the past. This is a beautifully written novel that packs a powerful punch. I loved it.

Author Blurb David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Edgar and Anthony Award-nominated author of Winter Counts
Marvelous. I've long been a fan of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series, and this essential novel allows us to witness how young Cork developed and matured. Not just a story of fathers and sons, it's also a tale of Natives and settlers and how laws such as the Indian Relocation Act influenced both…A gripping, heartbreaking tale with beautiful writing, vividly drawn characters, and a story you won't be able to put down.

Author Blurb Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All the Devils Are Here
A brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate." -

Reader Reviews

lani

Father and son's relationship
A gentle yet mysterious novel that will stir your heart. This sounds like an oxymoron but Krueger has pulled off a skillful coming of age story, an unsolved mystery and a deeply transporting picture of the back woods of Minnesota. The vivid ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Indian Relocation Act of 1956

Promo material for Indian Relocation Act featuring white woman and Native woman pushing strollers side by side, white man and Native man working togetherIn Lightning Strike, William Kent Krueger includes an author's note about the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 (also known as Public Law 959 or the Adult Vocational Training Program), which features as a tragic backdrop to the overall story. According to Krueger, the program was "the brainchild of a group of men appointed by President Harry S. Truman to solve what lawmakers in Washington, D.C., called 'the Indian problem.'" It was a "problem" of the government's own creation — the financial burden of sustaining reservations only existed because Native Americans had been displaced from the land on which they had previously been living.

Native Americans struggled mightily (and still do) to keep their communities together on ...

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