William Kent Krueger

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William Kent Krueger
Krueger at a book signing in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Krueger at a book signing in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Born (1950-11-16) November 16, 1950 (age 67)
Torrington, Wyoming, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Period 1998–present
Genre Mystery, crime fiction
Subject Minnesota, Native American Indian Tribes, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
Notable works Iron Lake, Cork O'Connor Series
Notable awards

Bush Artist Fellowship
Loft-McKnight Fiction Award
1998 Iron Lake
Anthony Award for Best First Novel
1999 Iron Lake
Barry Award for Best First Novel
1999 Iron Lake
Anthony Award for Best Novel
2005 Blood Hollow
Anthony Award for Best Novel
2006 Mercy Falls

Edgar Award for Best Novel
2013 Ordinary Grace

William Kent Krueger is an American novelist and crime writer, best known for his series of novels featuring Cork O'Connor, which are set mainly in Minnesota.[1] In 2005 and 2006, he won back-to-back Anthony Awards for best novel.[2] In 2014, his stand-alone book Ordinary Grace won the Edgar Award for Best Novel of 2013.[3]

Biographical details[edit]

Krueger has said that he wanted to be a writer from the third grade when his story "The Walking Dictionary" was praised by his teacher and parents.[4]

He attended Stanford University, but his academic path was cut short when he came into conflict with the university's administration during student protests of spring 1970.[4] Throughout his early life, he supported himself by logging timber, digging ditches, working in construction, and being published as a freelance journalist; he never stopped writing.[4]

He wrote short stories and sketches for many years, but it was not until the age of 40 that he finished the manuscript of his first novel, Iron Lake. It won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award.[4]

Marriage and family[edit]

Krueger is married and has two children. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.[1]

Writing influences[edit]

Krueger has said his favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. He grew up reading Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James T. Farrell. Most influential among these was Hemingway. In an interview for Shots magazine, Krueger described his admiration for Hemingway's prose:

His prose is clean, his word choice perfect, his cadence precise and powerful. He wastes nothing. In Hemingway, what's not said is often the whole point of a story. I like that idea, leaving the heart off the page so that the words, the prose itself, is the first thing to pierce you. Then the meaning comes.[4]

As a mystery genre writer, Krueger credits Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke as his strongest influences.[4]

Writing process[edit]

Krueger prefers to write early in the morning. Rising at 5.30 am, he goes to the nearby St. Clair Broiler, where he drinks coffee and writes longhand in wire-bound notebooks.[5]

He began going to the St. Clair Broiler when he was in his 30s and had to make time for writing early in the morning before going to work at the University of Minnesota. He has continued the habit and has his own booth there.[4] In return for his loyalty, the restaurant has hosted book launches for Krueger. At one of them, the staff wore T-shirts emblazoned with "A nice place to visit. A great place to die."[6]

Setting in the Cork O'Connor series[edit]

When Krueger decided to set the series in northern Minnesota, he realized that a large percentage of the population was of mixed ancestry. In college, he had wanted to become a cultural anthropologist; he became intrigued by researching the Ojibwe culture and weaving the information into his books. His books are set in and around Native American reservations. The main character, Cork O'Connor, is part Ojibwe and part Irish.[7]

"History was a study in futility. Because people never learned. Century after century, they committed the same atrocities against one another or against the earth, and the only thing that changed was the magnitude of the slaughter... Conscience was a devil that plagued the individual. Collectively, a people squashed it as easily as stepping on a daisy."

William Kent Krueger, Purgatory Ridge.

Krueger has read the first Ojibwe historian, William Whipple Warren, Gerald Vizenor and Basil Johnston. He has also read novels by Louise Erdrich and Jim Northrup. Krueger began to meet the Ojibwe people and because of his interest in their culture.[7]

Krueger believes that the sense of place is made resonant by the actions and emotions of the characters within it. He describes it as "a dynamic bond that has the potential to heighten the drama of every scene."[8]


Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (1998), ISBN 0-671-01696-2
Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, paperback (1999), ISBN 0-671-01697-0
Recorded Books (2010), ISBN 1-4407-5520-5, ISBN 978-1-4407-5520-0

Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (1999), ISBN 0-671-01698-9
Recorded Books (2010), ISBN 1-4407-5524-8, ISBN 978-1-4407-5524-8

Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2001), ISBN 0-671-04753-1
Recorded Books (2010), ISBN 1-4407-5528-0, ISBN 978-1-4407-5528-6

Atria, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2003), ISBN 0-7434-6636-5

Atria, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2004), ISBN 0-7434-4586-4
Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, paperback (2005), ISBN 0-7434-4587-2

Atria, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2005), ISBN 0-7434-4588-0
Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, paperback (2006), ISBN 0-7434-4589-9

Atria, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2006), ISBN 0-7432-7840-2
Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, paperback (2007), ISBN 1-4165-1446-5

Atria, Simon & Schuster, hardcover (2007), ISBN 0-7432-7841-0
Atria Books, trade paperback (2009), ISBN 978-1-4391-5782-4

Atria Books, hardcover (2008), ISBN 978-1-4165-5674-9
Atria Books, trade paperback (2009), ISBN 978-1-4165-5675-6

Atria Books, hardcover (2009), ISBN 978-1-4165-5676-3
Atria Books, trade paperback (2010), ISBN 978-1416556770

Atria Books, hardcover (2010), ISBN 978-1439153840
Atria Books, trade paperback (2011), ISBN 978-1439153871

Atria Books, hardcover (2011), ISBN 978-1439153956
Atria Books, trade paperback (2012), ISBN 978-1439153963

Atria Books, hardcover (2012), ISBN 978-1451645675
Atria Books, trade paperback (2013), ISBN 978-1451645712

Atria Books, hardcover (2013), ISBN 978-1451645828
Atria Books, trade paperback (2014), ISBN 978-1451645859

Atria Books, hardcover (2013), ISBN 978-1451645750
Atria Books, trade paperback (2014), ISBN 978-1451645774

Atria Books, hardcover (2014), ISBN 978-1476749235
Atria Books, trade paperback (2015), ISBN 978-1476749242

Atria Books, hardcover (2016), ISBN 978-1476749266
Atria Books, trade paperback (2017), ISBN 978-1476749273

  • Desolation Mountain

Atria Books (2018), ISBN 978-1501147463


  • Bush Artist Fellowship, 1988
  • Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, 1998 (forIron Lake)
  • Minnesota Book Award, 1999 (for Iron Lake)
  • Anthony Award for Best First Novel, 1999 (for Iron Lake)
  • Barry Award for Best First Novel, 1999 (for Iron Lake)
  • Friends of American Writers Prize, 1999
  • Minnesota Book Award, 2002 (for Purgatory Ridge)
  • Readers Choice Award, 2003
  • Anthony Award for Best Novel, 2005 (for Blood Hollow)
  • Anthony Award for Best Novel, 2006 (for Mercy Falls)
  • Minnesota Book Award, 2007 (for Copper River)
  • Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, 2007 (for Thunder Bay)
  • Dilys Award, 2008 (for Thunder Bay)
  • Minnesota Book Award, 2008 (for Thunder Bay)
  • Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, 2013 (for Ordinary Grace)
  • Edgar Award, 2013 (for Ordinary Grace)


  1. ^ a b "William Kent Krueger Official website". Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Anthony Award Nominees and Winners". Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ ""The Edgar Award Winners" – list of 2013 winners". Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with William Kent Krueger". Shots Magazine. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Interview with William Kent Krueger". Kaliber .38 (magazine). Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  6. ^ "William Kent Krueger". City Pages. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b "Simon and Schuster Interview with William Kent Krueger". Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Interview with William Kent Krueger". Book Reporter. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 

External links[edit]