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Lightning Strike

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The author of the instant New York Times best seller 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 Minne The author of the instant New York Times best seller 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 12-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.


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The author of the instant New York Times best seller 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 Minne The author of the instant New York Times best seller 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 12-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.

30 review for Lightning Strike

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Lightning Strike (Cork O'Connor #0) by William Kent Krueger Having read and greatly enjoyed Krueger's two stand alone novels, Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, I knew I wanted to tackle his long running Cork O'Connor series. Now Krueger has written a prequel to the entire series which gives me a great opportunity to jump in before it all began. Lightning Strike takes place at a very pivotal time in Cork's life, the summer before he turns thirteen.  It's 1963 and Liam O’Connor, Cork's father, is Lightning Strike (Cork O'Connor #0) by William Kent Krueger Having read and greatly enjoyed Krueger's two stand alone novels, Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land, I knew I wanted to tackle his long running Cork O'Connor series. Now Krueger has written a prequel to the entire series which gives me a great opportunity to jump in before it all began. Lightning Strike takes place at a very pivotal time in Cork's life, the summer before he turns thirteen.  It's 1963 and Liam O’Connor, Cork's father, is Aurora’s sheriff. Cork has his paper route, friends, baseball, biking, camping, church, family and dog. He's on the cusp of learning that all he thought was sacred and simple isn't so. The racial tension that he barely noticed in the past comes to a head when Cork finds a man he considered a mentor, hanging from a tree, in an apparent suicide. But Cork and his dad suspect otherwise and as they try to determine who might have killed this man, not only does the town's divide become more apparent between white and Ojibwe, but even his family starts to show cracks. Liam is white, Cork's mother is half white, half Ojibwe, Cork is a quarter Ojibwe. No one is happy that Liam is looking for "facts" in the death of the dead man, when each side wants the other blamed for his death. This summer will harden Cork, as he loses his naivety and wonder about life and the future. Cork's summer reflects what is happening to us today and so often there seems to be no answer to the problems of the world. This has been a great introduction into the Cork O'Connor series and I look forward to all the books ahead of me.  Publication: August 24th 2021 Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY -- DON'T MISS THIS PREQUEL*** BOYS GREW UP A LITTLE FASTER IN 1963, ESPECIALLY IN SMALL TOWN MINNESOTA! This is the summer that Cork O’Connor turns 13 and while this is a coming of age novel it is so much more. There is a tangled mystery to unravel which causes strained tensions between some of the white men in town and the Ojibwa Indians. Cork’s mother is half Ojibwa and half Irish. His father is Liam O’Connor, town sheriff, Irish and relatively new in town. He left his o ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY -- DON'T MISS THIS PREQUEL*** BOYS GREW UP A LITTLE FASTER IN 1963, ESPECIALLY IN SMALL TOWN MINNESOTA! This is the summer that Cork O’Connor turns 13 and while this is a coming of age novel it is so much more. There is a tangled mystery to unravel which causes strained tensions between some of the white men in town and the Ojibwa Indians. Cork’s mother is half Ojibwa and half Irish. His father is Liam O’Connor, town sheriff, Irish and relatively new in town. He left his old life as a police officer in Chicago hoping for a better life for his family. The novel takes off pretty quickly when Cork and his friend discover a well known and respected Indian mentor hanging in Lightning Strike. The shock of this sight will haunt Cork throughout the story and he is just as determined to solve this crime as his father. There are many changes coming both to the town and to Cork. At first appearances Liam and others believe that Big John committed suicide, but his family and friends say he would never kill himself and especially not in this sacred site. There is a tug and pull between how the Indians want things to proceed and how Liam insists things are done. He takes the law very literally, he knows that to convict someone he needs solid evidence! What is so captivating in this novel is how Mr. Krueger is able to speak so clearly in the voice of this young man and his two friends. I think that was a lot of the appeal of Ordinary Grace as well as This Tender Land. I quickly felt as though I was surrounded by the beauty of this area “Beyond a line of aspen, the water of Iron Lake burned with the gold light of early day”. Living in Wisconsin I can relate to the beautiful woods and lakes that my parents took me to. If you loved this Tender Land you will find a lot of the elements that you enjoyed in this novel This is a prequel to his long standing series, which features Cork as a grown man, he also as the town sheriff !!!!!! I THINK THIS IS STORYTELLING AT IT'S BEST AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!! I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Although this is part of a long running series, this newest book takes us back to the beginning. It is 1963 in Aurora, MN, Iron Lake and we are introduced to a young fourteen year old Cork. His father Liam is Sheriff, his mother part Objibwe, so Cork is a part of both worlds. We meet a younger Henry Meloux, a Midi, who will help form the man he becomes and Sam Winter Moon, who will help him find the way between two cultures. We learn of the mistreatment if the Indian and its long range effects. Although this is part of a long running series, this newest book takes us back to the beginning. It is 1963 in Aurora, MN, Iron Lake and we are introduced to a young fourteen year old Cork. His father Liam is Sheriff, his mother part Objibwe, so Cork is a part of both worlds. We meet a younger Henry Meloux, a Midi, who will help form the man he becomes and Sam Winter Moon, who will help him find the way between two cultures. We learn of the mistreatment if the Indian and its long range effects. We encounter the prejudice against those with any such blood. This case will place many in danger. Will show us the difference in the beliefs of those who live on the reservation and those who live in town. The struggles of a good man, a family man who wants only to do right, but finds the navigation between cultures adds difficulty to his job. If one starts here, with this book, it will provide a sold d entry into one of my favorite series. I love how the author shows us how the past is always present, and for the many mistreated, the scars that have never healed. The history, the mistreatment and cruelty with which the American Indians were treated is another shameful episode in Americas past. ARC from Edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    The one thing that I have always found with Mr Krueger is that he can certainly weaves a terrific story that is both enjoyable and enlightening. I am one, who loves learning new things and this author can definitely add to one's knowledge base. In this outing, we go back to the beginning and learn about Cork's ancestry, and the people who made him become the man he grows to be. We also find sadly relevant and irreverent ways in which the native Americans, (the Ojibwa), were treated. This formed The one thing that I have always found with Mr Krueger is that he can certainly weaves a terrific story that is both enjoyable and enlightening. I am one, who loves learning new things and this author can definitely add to one's knowledge base. In this outing, we go back to the beginning and learn about Cork's ancestry, and the people who made him become the man he grows to be. We also find sadly relevant and irreverent ways in which the native Americans, (the Ojibwa), were treated. This formed an intrinsic way in which the story was presented as the cultures of both the Ojibwa and the white people people was presented. The Native Americans were considered to be drunks, nasty, and uneducated. The prejudicial stance is so apparent through the entire story, and stands in place for the history of behavior of all Native American tribes throughout history. Cork's mother, Colleen, is half Ojibwa and his father, Liam, is Irish. Being sheriff of the town, is difficult as the relationship between the Ojibwa and the white people is tenuous at best. When the body of an Ojibwa man is found by Cork and his friends hanging from a tree, the supposition is that he committed suicide, but Liam and Cork can't help but think something is amiss. They follow their belief and stumble onto a mystery that needs solving. Liam and Cork develop a father son bond, one that later comes with grief and sorrow. This is such a moving tale, a story of so much is contained within its pages. A recommendation for this book is certainly one that comes from this reader. Mr Krueger has done it again!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Devastatingly disappointed… Rant coming in 🔥, so continue at your own risk…. Let me first start by saying that I have absolutely adored Krueger’s stand-alone novels, This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace. Both of these have firm spots on my ‘favorites’ self. They are beautifully written and are stories that touched my heart in a profound way. They are, also, novels that I never hesitate to recommend. This is why I’m so disappointed in his latest novel, Lightening Strike. I’ve been meaning to start Devastatingly disappointed… Rant coming in 🔥, so continue at your own risk…. Let me first start by saying that I have absolutely adored Krueger’s stand-alone novels, This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace. Both of these have firm spots on my ‘favorites’ self. They are beautifully written and are stories that touched my heart in a profound way. They are, also, novels that I never hesitate to recommend. This is why I’m so disappointed in his latest novel, Lightening Strike. I’ve been meaning to start his Cork O’Conner series for some time and was delighted to see that this was a prequel to it. What perfect timing to start this series! I’d been reading for a couple of days and the story didn’t grab me the way his others had. The plot was good, but something just felt forced. The grandmothers behavior and her treatment of her son-in-law really bothered me, however, my faith in Krueger’s purpose kept me reading on until this sentence, which is thought by 12 year-old Cork… “Logic was a part of that, sure, but was something else at work, something dark in him that he didn’t want to acknowledge? He was only a quarter Shinnob. Three-quarters of his blood came from European ancestry. Was his thinking swayed by all that whiteness?” I read this sentence several times to make sure I was reading it correctly… ‘swayed by all that whiteness’? This is a thought made in 1963 by a 12 year-old boy? Seriously? How very 2021… and, unfortunately, that is where this story ended for me. Krueger has lost me. I will not read the rest of this series, nor will I read any of his novels moving forward. My heart is broken… ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    The latest from bestselling author William Kent Krueger, Lightning Strike is a beautifully told story, of a small town in the 1960s rocked by a mysterious death and culture clashes, and a boy’s coming of age. It’s funny, I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but give me a well-written book like this and I’m totally hooked. I felt the same about Krueger’s last book, This Tender Land , which was one of the best books I read in 2019. In this prequel to Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, it’s The latest from bestselling author William Kent Krueger, Lightning Strike is a beautifully told story, of a small town in the 1960s rocked by a mysterious death and culture clashes, and a boy’s coming of age. It’s funny, I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but give me a well-written book like this and I’m totally hooked. I felt the same about Krueger’s last book, This Tender Land , which was one of the best books I read in 2019. In this prequel to Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, it’s 1963 and Cork is 12 years old. His father is the sheriff of their small town of Aurora, Minnesota, which is shaken when Cork and his friend find the body of a town resident hanging from a tree. The man was a well-known Native American in town, and while every sign points to suicide, his friends and relatives insist otherwise. They quickly become angry that Cork’s father is only interested in the facts he sees, and doesn’t believe it could have been murder. But Cork and his friends feel a responsibility to try and find out what happened, and it’s not long before father and son find themselves in the midst of a mystery with possibly dangerous ramifications. I eagerly anticipated Lightning Strike and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. I love the way Krueger tells a story, the way he meshes emotion, narrative, and historical details. Even though this is a prequel to a series, it’s fine to read as a standalone, although if you’re like me, you’ll want to dive in to the whole series afterward! I so loved this. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ken Fredette

    I feel after reading this whole book, it's the best that William has written ever. I know that it was written about Cork's life as a boy, which was something unusual since he was the sheriff in his later books. But it really hit home, since I'm from Northern Minnesota and had similar things happen in my life. I spent many nights under the stars in the Boundary Waters, took my wife there on our second honeymoon (I was overseas for a year). I would suggest you read this book, even if you haven't r I feel after reading this whole book, it's the best that William has written ever. I know that it was written about Cork's life as a boy, which was something unusual since he was the sheriff in his later books. But it really hit home, since I'm from Northern Minnesota and had similar things happen in my life. I spent many nights under the stars in the Boundary Waters, took my wife there on our second honeymoon (I was overseas for a year). I would suggest you read this book, even if you haven't read any of Krueger's stories before. Paper routes, scouts, camping it all fits together.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Thank you to the senders for the free paperback copy sent. It's prequel to the Cork series which has been well established. Cork of 12 years at the beginning of this overlong rendition. Taking a finish/ epilogue about 2 years later. Loving the stand alone novels by Krueger so much more than this I'm going to take a day or so to ponder thoughts before I express them. It's a poignant portrayal and yet extremely morose. Other characters feel far more real or in any sense authentic to the place and er Thank you to the senders for the free paperback copy sent. It's prequel to the Cork series which has been well established. Cork of 12 years at the beginning of this overlong rendition. Taking a finish/ epilogue about 2 years later. Loving the stand alone novels by Krueger so much more than this I'm going to take a day or so to ponder thoughts before I express them. It's a poignant portrayal and yet extremely morose. Other characters feel far more real or in any sense authentic to the place and era than do the O'Connors. I've decided to elaborate much more about plotting (weak motives) and character developments. The heavy handedness to parsing people in race/politico is far more 2020 than 1963 in this writing. And I have the exact problem with this voice of Lightening Strike as I do with the latest one or two Cork series novels. Preach /teach is literally half the copy word count. And the O'Connors as a family are totally and completely humorless within them too. Also hypocritical by parts as having some practice of religion but absolutely no heart of the faith or beliefs it encompasses. And I have a total repulsion on Grandma Delsey in all of these that's elemental. The baggage of mood and word she hands out with cordial care is nearly child abuse, IMHO. As is her judgments of people solely by origin and not at all by actions except in some method of looking back afterwards. Thank God, that all my own ancestors that wandered half or 3/4ths of a world from their homes and never got to return did not press retributions into me for their complete and almost total identity losses. Nor instill sameness and being illiterate and separate as any kind of model. Even if they were illiterate and victims themselves until the day they died. Early too- across the boards. Manydeeds was a great character and Henry has some good moments. Liam talks like a sausage at times and the parental units of Cork were not at all 1963 in consequences of lying, disobedience. Cork went from acting about 10 to acting 42. I considered giving this 2 stars. But Iron Lake and the Spider Creek were too real, despite many other aspects not coming close. My best friend of my entire life for almost all of it was born and raised in Hibbing, MN. I can hear her laughing at my bluntness in this review. I'll read his stand alone novels. His O'Connor- not interested. They wouldn't even know a batch of lutefisk or a joke if it hit them in the eye.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    WOO HOO! Happy Dance! Skip the line! YES! I didn’t get my chance at an ARC copy of William Kent Krueger’s newest Cork O’Connor book this time around, so I patiently waited my turn for my public library’s Libby app. Imagine my surprise when I was notified that I could read it NOW! Lightning Strike was available at long last! I have long been a fan of William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, and he is one of my favorite Minnesota authors. No, favorite storytellers. Period. Yes, I grew up in th WOO HOO! Happy Dance! Skip the line! YES! I didn’t get my chance at an ARC copy of William Kent Krueger’s newest Cork O’Connor book this time around, so I patiently waited my turn for my public library’s Libby app. Imagine my surprise when I was notified that I could read it NOW! Lightning Strike was available at long last! I have long been a fan of William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, and he is one of my favorite Minnesota authors. No, favorite storytellers. Period. Yes, I grew up in the northland of Minnesota, and his books feel like home to me. The prequel to this long series gets its name, according to the story, from a site near Aurora, Minnesota, that was sacred to the Ojibwe. The First People believed that the spirits caused it to be hit by lightning because it was being used for logging, because this would have been forbidden. The area, which featured the charred chimney and other blackened remnants of a log building, had been filling in with ferns, moss, and weeds. This is the spot where 12-year-old Cork O’Connor hikes with his friend Jorge one hot July day. The pair are working on a Boy Scout merit badge and intend to camp out overnight. Their plans change suddenly when they are struck by a horrific sight – the body of a man hanging from a nearby tree. The man, Big John Manydeeds, was known to have been a recovering alcoholic, but there is evidence at the scene to suggest otherwise. This leads to assumptions – some based on stereotypes of “drunken Indians” – that have been with us for generations. Despite appearances, Cork does not believe that this man, whom he admired and respected, committed suicide. His father, Liam O’Connor, is the sheriff in the small northern town of Aurora, including the reservation. He tries to explain that he needs to follow the evidence. Cork wants to help. His father has misgivings but allows him some leeway. Convincing his full-blooded Ojibwe mother-in-law that he is doing his best to find the truth is no easy task. She and family friend Sam Winter Moon are really in a tough position – between a rock and a hard place with the O’Connors and people on “the rez.” The O’Connors are a close-knit family. Cork’s mother Colleen is half Ojibwe. Dad is Irish. Cork’s grandmother Dilsey eats supper with them at least once a week. Father and son have a Saturday night tradition of cooking supper together, and the women are not allowed in the kitchen. The guys fix burgers, coleslaw, and hand-cranked ice cream. Lots of time for them to talk and to bond. After supper, they might all play Parcheesi or watch their favorite shows, like Gunsmoke. But as the investigation goes on, tensions within the family mount. Even Cork feels the pressure. Never has he raised an eyebrow over the ethnicity of his family or friends. His two best friends, Jorge and Billy, are not white. Members of the community and classmates call him and his family names. “Squaw man,” his dad is called. While he respects his father, he seems to grow impatient with him at times, wishing an arrest would come soon. Most of the time, however, Cork seems to have more patience and maturity than I would have expected from a boy his age. And Liam is an experienced cop caught in a tough spot. He’s felt pressure before, hasn’t he? The book focuses mainly on the boy Cork, but the author also shows us the man who was his father. He is a man of quality and conviction. He will stand his ground when he knows he is right; he will also admit when he is wrong because he wants to do the right thing. He wants the truth, and even though he doesn’t say it often, he loves his family deeply. I love the friendships that Cork has with Jorge and Billy. It was reminiscent of This Tender Land, which felt to me like Wm Kent Krueger’s finest book ever. These boys share everything, and even when they disagree, they get over it quickly. Cork tells them things that he shouldn’t. He trusts too much. He risks all for his friends. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the history of the Native American boarding schools. Much has been made of this in the Canadian and U.S. press in recent months. Native children were forced to leave their families on the reservations to attend these schools. They were forbidden from speaking their native language, prevented from wearing native garb or hairstyles, and in many cases were treated very harshly. Grandma Dilsey mentions the schools, and Big John ran away from school several times until he was finally taken in by Henry Meloux, who mentored him to be a guide. (This article just ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: https://www.startribune.com/in-wake-o...) Finally, Lightning Strike is so much more than a mystery, or even a coming-of-age tale, for it is that as well. Krueger’s recipe for a well-told story generally includes family relationships, good and loving, challenging, healing. There is no lack of conflict, darkness, and foreboding. But it would not be a WKK novel without an element of spirituality, would it? There are several instances where Cork sees an ominous, dark shadow emerge, even when no one else sees it. He wonders if Big John is not yet at peace to walk the Path of Souls. His friend Billy Downwind agrees; he thinks that his uncle wants something. What? Will the boys or Liam ever know what it is that Big John’s spirit wants? Henry Meloux, the Mide, Ojibwe healer, has a more limited role than in some books, but when asked, he has some timely, if obscure words for the youngster: "Find a place where your head and your heart can talk to each other…Maybe then you will see clearly.” (p.529) The Prologue shows us an adult Cork O’Connor on his first day as sheriff. For those readers who have come to love this character, reading the prequel gives us some idea how he came to be that man. All I will say about the Epilogue is that, yes, it is stunning, and yes, it too undoubtedly affected the adult Cork O’Connor we see in all the 17 books of the series. Migwech, Kent Krueger. Chi migwech. 4.5 stars rounded up

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carmel Hanes

    My husband and I listened to this audio-book on a road trip. It was the perfect kind of book for that...interesting characters and plot, passing the time easily. I've read, and enjoyed Ordinary Grace and Tender Mercies, but have no history with Krueger's Cork O'Connor series, so this prequel introduced me to these characters. My husband rated it a 5, while I'll give it a 4. I enjoy the characters Krueger creates, especially the young ones, and this cast was no exception. As with other Krueger boo My husband and I listened to this audio-book on a road trip. It was the perfect kind of book for that...interesting characters and plot, passing the time easily. I've read, and enjoyed Ordinary Grace and Tender Mercies, but have no history with Krueger's Cork O'Connor series, so this prequel introduced me to these characters. My husband rated it a 5, while I'll give it a 4. I enjoy the characters Krueger creates, especially the young ones, and this cast was no exception. As with other Krueger books, at times he stretches my credulity...with events, with character traits, with expressed thoughts, but I accept it and forgive him because this is fiction, and he makes me care about the characters he brings to life. The story offers a mystery to solve, an overlay of racial tension that is all too common even now, and a world that offers the bittersweet juxtaposition of the innocence of youth and events that scar the edges of that innocence. It made me yearn for simpler times...times that seemed less conflicted and more "safe". I confess to mostly having the mystery solved before the sheriff, and anticipated some of the plot developments, but in the hands of a skilled writer, I still enjoyed watching it all play out. Krueger books are easy listening and smooth going down.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    After what feels like a long drought, I've finally finished something I thoroughly enjoyed. Readers of Krueger's Cork O'Connor series are already familiar with his background. His father was the Tamarack County sheriff until he died in the line of duty when Cork was a teen. Finally, after seventeen novels following Cork's cases we are gifted with Lightning Strike, a first mystery involving 12yo Cork and his father, Sheriff Liam O'Connor. Cork and his friend Billy Down Wind are exploring outside A After what feels like a long drought, I've finally finished something I thoroughly enjoyed. Readers of Krueger's Cork O'Connor series are already familiar with his background. His father was the Tamarack County sheriff until he died in the line of duty when Cork was a teen. Finally, after seventeen novels following Cork's cases we are gifted with Lightning Strike, a first mystery involving 12yo Cork and his father, Sheriff Liam O'Connor. Cork and his friend Billy Down Wind are exploring outside Aurora when they come across an Ojibwe man hanging from a tree - and he's been there a while. The evidence points to a man whose demons caught up to him: empty bottles of whiskey and no obvious signs of foul play. When the man is identified as Big John Many Deeds, gossip on the rez goes into overdrive. Everybody knows John quit drinking years ago, and he would never kill himself. Even so, they predict that the white, Irish sheriff will assume a drunk Indian killed himself no matter what they say. Between a rock and a hard place, Sheriff O'Connor must look closer if he's to have a chance of keeping the tribe's anger from escalating. Meanwhile, Cork is haunted by the image of Big John in that tree. John was his friend, and he never knew him to drink alcohol. He seeks solace from an elder named Henry, who advises Cork that he may need to find the truth before his troubled mind will rest. "Like Hansel and Gretel, you must follow the bread crumbs," and from that nudge a life investigating crime begins. The best thing about Lightning Strike is the family dynamic. We see what sort of man Cork's father was as he investigates John's death and encourages his son along the way. We see his mother Connie and get to know her soft-spoken strength and resilience. We also meet Cork's grandmother, a force of nature and a fierce voice for The People. As for the mystery, I thought it was one of Krueger's better plots of the books I've read. The whodunit at the end came as a surprise to me. Overall, this is a great entry in the series and since it's set in 1963, you don't have to read all the other books before this one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    This reminded me a bit of Ordinary Grace. Cork O'Connor and Frank Drum have much in common in addition to their age. In this new release from William Kent Krueger, young Cork is just twelve and it is the summer of 1963. When an Ojibwe man is found in a sacred woodland location, the apparent result of suicide, tension rises between those on the rez and Liam O'Connor, Cork's sheriff father. Cork's family attempts to bridge the gap with respect and understanding. There are times, though, when Cork' This reminded me a bit of Ordinary Grace. Cork O'Connor and Frank Drum have much in common in addition to their age. In this new release from William Kent Krueger, young Cork is just twelve and it is the summer of 1963. When an Ojibwe man is found in a sacred woodland location, the apparent result of suicide, tension rises between those on the rez and Liam O'Connor, Cork's sheriff father. Cork's family attempts to bridge the gap with respect and understanding. There are times, though, when Cork's grandma from the rez seems like she is not giving Liam any credit for his work or the steps needed to conduct a fair investigation. Also, at times Cork says weird things that a 12-year-old in 1963 would not say.As the summer progresses, there are more tragedies to deal with. How do they all fit together? A wise old Ojibwe man encourages Cork to follow the crumbs; to find a place where his head and heart meet. Cork's father allows him to do simple legwork in the investigation, sharpening his skills for the future. He is his father's son. He was born ogichidaa --"one who stands between evil and his people." Thank you to Atria Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Faith Ann

    This book is going to surpass This Tender Land in popularity. There are not many books I will give top ratings to but I literally enjoyed the story so much I lost sleep to finish it. The best book I’ve read this year!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Lightning Strike is the prequel to William Kent Krueger’s successful, long-running mystery series based on a Minnesota sheriff, Cork O’Connor. This is my introduction to the series; my introduction to this author came in 2019, when I read and reviewed This Tender Land. I read this free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Atria Books. It will be available to the public Tuesday, August 24, 2021. In the prequel, Cork is twelve, and he’s on a camping expedition with his friend Jorge when they come a Lightning Strike is the prequel to William Kent Krueger’s successful, long-running mystery series based on a Minnesota sheriff, Cork O’Connor. This is my introduction to the series; my introduction to this author came in 2019, when I read and reviewed This Tender Land. I read this free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Atria Books. It will be available to the public Tuesday, August 24, 2021. In the prequel, Cork is twelve, and he’s on a camping expedition with his friend Jorge when they come across a body hanging off the maple tree at Lightning Strike. What’s worse, it’s someone they know; the corpse is that of Big John Manydeeds, the uncle of a close friend. Cork’s father, Liam, is the sheriff, and although he’s been told to let the adults investigate this horrific event, Cork keeps coming up with useful bits of information. Seems he has a knack. One of the most admirable aspects of Krueger’s writing is the way he folds his setting, characters, and plot seamlessly to create an atmospheric stew that’s impossible to look away from. The story takes place in the far northern reaches of Minnesota in (fictitious) Tamarack County, near Iron Lake and the iron range, as well as the Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indian Reservation, and the tension and conflict between tribal members, which include Cork’s mother and grandmother, toward Caucasians, which include Liam, are a central feature of this mystery. Tribal members insist that Big John would never have taken his own life, and even had he done so, he would never done it at this sacred location. At first they aren’t taken seriously, but as events unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that they are right. This was no suicide. The key suspect in Big John’s murder proves to be the town’s wealthiest citizen, a tightfisted, overtly racist, elderly Scotsman that owns practically everything. He’s a suspect too soon to be the actual killer, I figure, and I think I can see where the story is headed, but without giving anything away, I have to tell you, Krueger introduces all sorts of twists and turns I don’t see coming, and they aren’t far-fetched ones, either. There is dark foreshadowing all over the place, and the tension and outrage that exists between the tribe and law enforcement—well, the sheriff, really—grow to ominous proportions. Liam insists on examining facts and hard evidence; the Ojibwe are eager to include portents and messages from the great beyond. They want that nasty rich guy arrested now, if not sooner, and when Liam tells them that it doesn’t work that way because circumstantial evidence isn’t enough, that hearsay can’t win a conviction, they scoff and point out that when the suspect is Ojibwe, those things are always more than adequate. And again, they have a point. A local business owner who is Ojibwe tells him, “Sheriff, you better believe every Shinnob on the rez is watching you right now. Every step you take.” While Liam is busy with his work, nobody is paying much attention to the boys; Cork, Jorge, and their friend Billy Downwind, who is related to Big John, poke around some more, and what they unearth is both shocking and dangerous. Lightning Strike owned me until it was done, and though I rarely do this, I’m headed to the Seattle Bibliocommons to find the next book, which is technically the first in the series, because for this series and this writer, once cannot possibly be enough. Highly recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Val

    Lightning Strike was a fascinating step back into time, to 1963, when Cork was just 12 years old. This is the first prequel I've ever read. I always thought I would find it boring to read what happened before the first book in a series. HA! I was WRONG!! In all honesty, I think some of the things in the first quarter of this book must have been touched on in the rest of the series, as a few times I experienced deja vu. (I even double-checked the book to verify what year the book was written!) I Lightning Strike was a fascinating step back into time, to 1963, when Cork was just 12 years old. This is the first prequel I've ever read. I always thought I would find it boring to read what happened before the first book in a series. HA! I was WRONG!! In all honesty, I think some of the things in the first quarter of this book must have been touched on in the rest of the series, as a few times I experienced deja vu. (I even double-checked the book to verify what year the book was written!) I think what I enjoyed the most was learning more about Cork's parents and getting a better understanding of how they shaped Cork into the man he has become. And, as always, I loved learning a bit more about Native American culture, specifically Ojibwe. (It was a bit odd that Henry was such a bit-character! I missed him.) Lightning Strike has a brilliant plot, one that kept building as each page went by. It grabbed my heart more than once!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I’ve only read one Cork O’Connor mystery (Iron Lake) prior to reading Lightning Strike. I felt only lukewarm about the series until reading Lightning Strike. William Kent Krueger moves the storyline to 1963 in Aurora, Minnesota and Cork is only 12-years-old. Cork finds the body of a man he deeply admires hanging from a tree. At first the assumption was that he had committed suicide, but as Cork’s father Liam, the local sheriff, investigates further, it appears several people had reason to want B I’ve only read one Cork O’Connor mystery (Iron Lake) prior to reading Lightning Strike. I felt only lukewarm about the series until reading Lightning Strike. William Kent Krueger moves the storyline to 1963 in Aurora, Minnesota and Cork is only 12-years-old. Cork finds the body of a man he deeply admires hanging from a tree. At first the assumption was that he had committed suicide, but as Cork’s father Liam, the local sheriff, investigates further, it appears several people had reason to want Big John dead. A friend of Cork’s suggests that he follow the crumbs to find out exactly what had happened to his friend. This book reminded me of Krueger’s earlier stand-alone novel, Ordinary Grace and also Stephen King’s Stand By Me. This was a beautiful picture of life in the 1960’s – Cork running a paper route, the boys camping out alone in the woods and Friday night dinners where Cork & his dad cooked for his mother. This was the summer prior to the Kennedy assassination, and it was a kinder, gentler world – unless you were an Indian. There was deeply ingrained prejudice in Aurora against the local Indians. Liam is encouraged by several townspeople to not pursue Big John’s killer and to write it off as a suicide. I really grew to care for these characters, so I’ll be giving the Cork O’Connor mystery series another try and hope they are as good as this prequel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    This prequel to the Cork O'Conner series filled in all the blanks of Cork's family history, how he came to be who he is. The Ojibwe culture and the Northwoods/Boundary Waters area are fascinating as always. Mr. Krueger is a top notch writer. The deck was softly illuminated, and the lights from Aurora lay like a necklace of multicolored jewels along the black shoreline of Iron Lake. The moon had risen but was still low in the sky, and the stars were diamonds on the black velvet dress of night. Cork This prequel to the Cork O'Conner series filled in all the blanks of Cork's family history, how he came to be who he is. The Ojibwe culture and the Northwoods/Boundary Waters area are fascinating as always. Mr. Krueger is a top notch writer. The deck was softly illuminated, and the lights from Aurora lay like a necklace of multicolored jewels along the black shoreline of Iron Lake. The moon had risen but was still low in the sky, and the stars were diamonds on the black velvet dress of night. Cork kept a swimsuit at Jorge's, and when the boys dove from the dock that afternoon, the water felt like liquid heaven, easing all the sting of the day. They splashed and dove and raced and finally, as the sun hovered above the tops of the buildings in town, lay on the dock staring up at the sun, an unbroken egg yolk on a blue porcelain plate.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Corey Woodcock

    Another wonderful Cork O’Connor book from William Kent Krueger, this one was Cork’s coming of age story and a prequel. Loved it! Full review soon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    A little history, a little mystery and much respect throughout this wonderfully written story. Very interesting character and plot development. Could not put this book down until all was resolved. An excellent good read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *4.5 stars rounded up. I have enjoyed two standalone novels that William Kent Krueger has written but have never read his Cork O'Connor series so decided this prequel would be a good place to start. As with his standalones, this story really speaks to the heart of his reader with excellent characterizations and richly-depicted setting. Set in the north woods of Minnesota in summer of 1963, Cork and his friend Jorge find the body of a man hanging from a tree deep in the woods, that of Big John Ma *4.5 stars rounded up. I have enjoyed two standalone novels that William Kent Krueger has written but have never read his Cork O'Connor series so decided this prequel would be a good place to start. As with his standalones, this story really speaks to the heart of his reader with excellent characterizations and richly-depicted setting. Set in the north woods of Minnesota in summer of 1963, Cork and his friend Jorge find the body of a man hanging from a tree deep in the woods, that of Big John Manydeeds, a well-respected Ojibwe man. Cork's father, Sheriff Liam O'Connor, investigates the death and begins to have some doubts about whether this was a suicide. Cork wants to help and is given advice 'to follow the crumbs' by Henry Meloux, a wise man of the tribe. Cork is only twelve but this will be a year of many hard lessons for the boy. This is a fascinating mystery case, the facts of which do indeed involve following the trail of crumbs. The plot is also a revelation of what it was like to be part of the Native population of that era. Could they ever hope for justice to be served, same as for a white person? Sheriff Liam, a good man, finds it difficult to walk the fine line separating the two races. The story brought to mind many of the great coming-of-age novels I've enjoyed over the years, beginning with To Kill a Mockingbird. Liam O'Connor takes his place amongst the honorable men of those novels. I liked both the book cover and the title, which comes from the idea that everything can change in an instant, like a lightning strike. I received an arc of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity. I'm eager to read the rest of the books in this series now!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger Synopsis / 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 12-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, h Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger Synopsis / 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 12-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. My Thoughts / Cork O'Connor Series, Book #0 When one of your book challenges says, ‘read a book with a blue cover’ – what’s your go to? I don’t know about you, but mine proved to be quite the winner. It wasn’t until I started reading Lightning Strike, that I realised that this book (which is the 18th book to be written in the series,) is actually the prequel to Krueger’s bestselling suspenseful mystery series featuring (a now) 12-year-old Cork O’Connor. YAY, for lucky co-incidences! But I digress, back to the story….. It’s summer. 1963. And 12-year-old Cork O’Connor (son of legendary Tamarack County Sheriff Liam O’Connor), comes across a dead body while hiking in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest. More specifically, he finds the body at Lightning Strike, which is an abandoned logging camp that is considered to be cursed. The hanged corpse is that of Big John Manydeeds, who is a family friend of the O’Connor’s, and the Uncle of a close friend of Corks. Big John Manydeeds, is well-known in the town of Aurora and on the Ojibwe Reservation. Cork’s father, Liam, is the sheriff of Tamarack County and initiates an investigation into Big John’s death. It appears on the surface that Big John took his own life, but there is pressure on Liam from all sides of the community to investigate the death further. For 12-year-old Cork though, suggestions of suicide are less certain. So taking matters into his own hands, Cork goes poking around in his free time, and it doesn’t take long for him to become convinced that he’s found a clue suggesting Big John was murdered…. a cryptic note that Cork spots at Big John’s grave. Cork convinces his father that the case may be a homicide and that it’s reasonable for him to look into those who have a possible murder motive. And this is where the story gets really interesting…..with the two following their separate lines of investigation. Cork and his friends pursue their own line of inquiry (follow the breadcrumbs), which ultimately intersect with Liam’s more formal investigation. However, Cork and his friends will end up in terrible danger as the truth of the circumstances behind Big John’s death are slowly revealed. Brilliantly plotted. Deeply emotional. This mystery opens strongly and builds intensity with each passing page. I don’t often say this – but this is one that I highly recommend you read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    A wonderful prequel by a favorite author. We learn how Cork O'Connor becomes the man he is. A wonderful prequel by a favorite author. We learn how Cork O'Connor becomes the man he is.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Caglio

    I absolutely loved everything about this book. Of the three coming-of-age novels I have read by this author, this is my hands-down favorite (although This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace were excellent) plus an unusual mystery was woven in throughout. Beautiful writing as well. Definitely recommend. 👍

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Kagen

    Wonderful, as always! I've not read any of the Cork O' Connor books so I wondered if I'd enjoy this one. Of course, I absolutely loved it, One of things I enjoy so much about Kent Kruger's books is the deep sense of satisfaction I get when the story draws to a conclusion. Wonderful! Wonderful, as always! I've not read any of the Cork O' Connor books so I wondered if I'd enjoy this one. Of course, I absolutely loved it, One of things I enjoy so much about Kent Kruger's books is the deep sense of satisfaction I get when the story draws to a conclusion. Wonderful!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is an amazing read with insights into the characters you have never read before. A journey into the past where Cork O'Connor is introduced as a young child, and his sheriff-father, Liam, takes center stage when Cork and his friend discover a body of a good man at a place spiritually important to the tribe. Besides the exceptional mystery, this narrative explores the undeniable tensions between the native population and the whites as Liam walks a very narrow line between appeasing everyone in This is an amazing read with insights into the characters you have never read before. A journey into the past where Cork O'Connor is introduced as a young child, and his sheriff-father, Liam, takes center stage when Cork and his friend discover a body of a good man at a place spiritually important to the tribe. Besides the exceptional mystery, this narrative explores the undeniable tensions between the native population and the whites as Liam walks a very narrow line between appeasing everyone involved and having an open mind while hunting down the killer. Distrust, skepticism, dislike and outright racial insults and injustice permeates this story and opens up the heart and eyes of juvenile Cork O'Connor setting him on the path he will follow as a man. Don't miss this one!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frosty61

    Unpopular opinion and longer review than necessary ahead: This author is hit or miss with me. I loved This Tender Land but I've not been enamored with his Cork O'Connor series. After seeing all the stellar reviews, I decided to give this prequel a try. I should've trusted my gut and taken a hard pass. As with the previously read O'Connor books, I found this to be overly preachy with too much focus on educating the reader about Native American folklore and history. Frankly, it gets boring. There's Unpopular opinion and longer review than necessary ahead: This author is hit or miss with me. I loved This Tender Land but I've not been enamored with his Cork O'Connor series. After seeing all the stellar reviews, I decided to give this prequel a try. I should've trusted my gut and taken a hard pass. As with the previously read O'Connor books, I found this to be overly preachy with too much focus on educating the reader about Native American folklore and history. Frankly, it gets boring. There's supposed to be a dangerous underlying tension when Cork's Irish dad, Liam, investigates a possible murder and has the audacity to question people of the tribe about it. I didn't feel it. I found myself skipping pages of repeated reference to the treatment of Native Americans by whites (example: the Indian Schools). The overall mystery is intriguing but the extraneous stuff ruined it for me. I feel that it would've been a good story with fewer pages of information, less stereotyping, less telling more showing, and a more realistic look at what being a 12 year old boy in 1963 was like. Cork is much too 'woke' for the time period and his beleaguered dad confiding the details of the investigation to everyone within the family and beyond is simply unrealistic. My main issue with the book: I'm tired of authors using the obvious tactic of pushing political agenda in their books by writing unrealistic dialogue and/or long passages about what they consider to be shameful events in history. I don't mind a little back story to understand motivation, but I don't need to be hit over the head with it numerous times. Please, give the reader some credit for knowing some historical facts and being able to form their own thoughts based on the actions and emotions of the characters.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Wolcott

    For an old guy who loves dogs and kids this is perfect. Not deep literary history, but fun quick read. I looked forward to coming home and reading it. It felt like and adult version of the Hardy Boys. There is a strong Native American theme which I love, and the Boundary Waters setting is cool.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Silk

    I am a huge fan of William Kent Krueger's stand-alone books This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace. I think he is an excellent writer and I knew he had the Cork O'Connor mystery series but it seemed overwhelming to me to go back to the beginning of the series. Well Krueger has written a prequel and I am hooked so I need to clear a lot of time in my reading schedule! I am a huge fan of William Kent Krueger's stand-alone books This Tender Land and Ordinary Grace. I think he is an excellent writer and I knew he had the Cork O'Connor mystery series but it seemed overwhelming to me to go back to the beginning of the series. Well Krueger has written a prequel and I am hooked so I need to clear a lot of time in my reading schedule!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    One might be forgiven for assuming that William Kent Krueger had exhausted the possibilities for additional installments in his long-running and award-winning Cork O’Connor series. He has been exploring the multifaceted personality of Cork --- a former sheriff and the current private investigator of Tamarack, Minnesota --- over the course of 17 books while progressively aging his protagonist and the strong supporting cast he has created over the years. With the newly published LIGHTNING STRIKE, One might be forgiven for assuming that William Kent Krueger had exhausted the possibilities for additional installments in his long-running and award-winning Cork O’Connor series. He has been exploring the multifaceted personality of Cork --- a former sheriff and the current private investigator of Tamarack, Minnesota --- over the course of 17 books while progressively aging his protagonist and the strong supporting cast he has created over the years. With the newly published LIGHTNING STRIKE, Krueger neatly sidesteps the issues of Cork’s advanced age and potential creeping infirmities by revisiting a fateful summer from his childhood. The result is one of Krueger’s best and strongest works to date. The majority of the book is set in July and August 1963. Twelve-year-old Cork is in the middle of a semi-idyllic summer, marred only by the obligations of delivering the local newspapers in the morning and afternoon. However, he is forever changed when, on an outing with a friend, he stumbles upon the body of Big John Manydeeds, a well-known personality in the town of Aurora and the Ojibwe reservation. They find the corpse at Lightning Strike, an abandoned logging camp that is considered to be cursed. The discovery deeply affects Cork, and not simply because of the grisly tableau. Big John was the uncle of one of Cork’s best friends, and he admired and learned much from the man. Cork’s father, Liam O’Connor, is the sheriff of Tamarack County and inititates an investigation into Big John’s death. It is all but a foregone conclusion that it was a suicide, and there is pressure on him for the case to be open and shut. However, two elements compel Liam to look further into the matter. One is a cryptic note that Cork spots at Big John’s grave. With a bit of unofficial and occasionally unwelcome assistance from his son, Liam tugs a slender evidentiary thread and follows it into a side of Big John’s life that had been a well-kept secret. The other is pressure from the Native community. Liam, a Caucasian married to a Native woman, must often walk a fine line when enforcing the law in the tribal community. That is especially true in this instance, where there is marked concern that a rush to judgment may deny justice to the deceased. Meanwhile, Cork and his friends pursue their own line of inquiry that ultimately intersects with Liam’s but puts them in terrible danger as the truth of the circumstances behind Big John’s death is dramatically revealed. LIGHTNING STRIKE has a multifaceted mystery at its core but is essentially a vibrant coming-of-age novel. While it is not necessary to have read any of the previous Cork O’Connor books, those who have will find this “child is father to the man” story indispensable in providing a new understanding to what has been told before and what will happen later in the series. A great deal of this insight is provided by revelations concerning Liam. Of equal importance is how Krueger explores the complexity of the legal and cultural minefield existing in some Native areas as it pertains to law enforcement. Instead of forming scars, the wounds of the past are often still raw and open, and Krueger shows rather than tells why with a subtle but unflinching touch. One can only hope that LIGHTNING STRIKE will be just the first of many forays into Cork O’Connor’s past. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    Lightning Strike is the eighteenth Cork O’Connor mystery by William Kent Krueger, but don’t hesitate to pick it up if you haven’t read the other books. The sensitive, moving book is a prequel, set in the summer of 1963 when Cork is twelve. Krueger himself said the book is meant to introduce and draw readers into the series. It worked for me. I’ve read Krueger’s standalone novels, Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. This book ranks with them as a perceptive coming-of-age novel, a poignant story Lightning Strike is the eighteenth Cork O’Connor mystery by William Kent Krueger, but don’t hesitate to pick it up if you haven’t read the other books. The sensitive, moving book is a prequel, set in the summer of 1963 when Cork is twelve. Krueger himself said the book is meant to introduce and draw readers into the series. It worked for me. I’ve read Krueger’s standalone novels, Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. This book ranks with them as a perceptive coming-of-age novel, a poignant story of a father and son. The book actually begins in January 1989 when Cork O’Connor is the new sheriff of Tamarack County, Minnesota. His father, Liam O’Connor, had been sheriff there twenty-five years earlier, and Cork feels the responsibility to the people who elected him, and to his father’s reputation. His father gave his life for his job, something that the twelve-year-old boy didn’t understand. In the summer of 1963, Cork and his friend, Jorge, went on a ten-mile hike, heading to Lightning Strike, the location where a cabin had been hit by lightning and burned. The Ojibwe said the cabin should not have been built on sacred land, and that’s why it was hit by lightning. But, Cork and Jorge faced something even worse when they found the hanging body of Big John Manydeeds. While Cork would never forget the sight of the corpse, a man he admired and respected, it was the enormous shadow, a darkness, that would haunt him. Big John Manydeeds’ death would haunt Liam O’Connor as well. The first impression, with whiskey bottles around, and at John’s cabin, was that Manydeeds committed suicide. But, the Ojibwe would not accept that verdict. Liam was a white man with an Ojibwe mother-in-law, which made him an outsider to the local white community as well as to the Ojibwe. No one would talk to him, so he struggled to find answers. It was Cork who offered clues as to the truth behind the man’s death. There’s so much more I could say about this book, however the plot development is part of the depth and beauty of the story. This is the summer Cork struggles. He feels an emptiness, and has questions about death. He has questions his father can’t always answer, and, at times he disagrees with his father’s decisions. Colleen, Cork’s wise mother, understands the struggle to find the truth, a truth that is sometimes in the heart, while Liam O’Connor is a straightforward man who has to have logical answers. In doing so, Liam faces hostility from everyone, even his own son at times. Kent Krueger’s Lightning Strike is the story that made Cork O’Connor into the man he is in the mystery series. He walks a fine line between his Irish and Ojibwe ancestry, “Always a spirit divided, always trying to figure out how to put those two worlds together.” The summer of 1963 was a turning point in Cork O’Connor’s life. He’ll never be the same, and he rejects his father’s career in law enforcement. However, a wise Ojibwe sees Cork’s future differently, seeing him as “One who stands between evil and his people.” To understand Cork O’Connor, his relationship with his home and his community, his relationship with his father, his beliefs, his heart, it’s important to read Lightning Strike. This book is the gateway to the Cork O’Connor series.

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