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Desolation mountain : a novel
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Author Notes
William Kent Krueger grew up in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. A former logger, construction worker, freelance journalist, & researcher in childhood development, he is the author of two other acclaimed Cork O'Connor novels, "Iron Lake" & "Boundary Waters". <p> (Publisher Provided) William Kent Krueger was born in Torrington, Wyoming on November 16, 1950. He attended Stanford University for one year before losing his academic scholarship for participation in a takeover of the president's office in protest of what he saw as the University's complicity in weapons production during the Vietnam War. He wrote short stories and sketches for many years. His first novel, Iron Lake, 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. He writes the Cork O'Connor series. In 2005 and 2006, he won back-to-back Anthony Awards for best novel. Ordinary Grace won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2014. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
First Chapter or Excerpt
Desolation Mountain CHAPTER 1 He watches the boy on the steep rise above him. He is that boy and he is not. The boy is intent on the sky, a witch's brew of swirling gray clouds. He is anxious, waiting. The boy. And him. For what, neither of them knows. The air smells not of the evergreen all around but of something foul. Diesel. Fire. A breeze blows across his face carrying a different smell, even more foul. Burning flesh. The boy holds a compound bow, complicated, powerful. An arrow is notched. The boy's stomach is taut. His body knows something his mind does not, something terrible. The boy watches the sky, and he watches the boy. The bird appears out of the dark boil of clouds. Wings spread broad, catching the wind. Curling in a wide arc above the hill. The bird--clearly an eagle now--lets out a screech. High-pitched. Then another. The boy raises his bow. The eagle circles, near enough that the boy can see details. Golden irises, saffron beak, long, dangerous talons. The eagle cries again. The boy draws back the bowstring. Calculates trajectory, wind speed. Leads the bird. Takes a breath. Eases it out. Lets the arrow fly. The great bird twists in an explosion of feathers. Tries to right itself. Begins to plummet. The boy lowers the bow. Watches an egg drop from the eagle. Watches the eagle in its fall, lost among the evergreens. The boy stands still as death. He feels uncertain, as if there is still more to be done, but what that is he doesn't know. He turns and stares down the hillside. At the young man who stares back. Him. And not him. Neither of them understands. Then the boy on the rise above him sees something, which he senses now at his own back. From the look on the boy's face, from the way his eyes grow huge, he understands that what is behind him is enormous and terrifying and threatens them both. He feels its breath break against him, hot and hungry. He should turn, face this beast whatever it is, but he's paralyzed with fear. The boy on the hill opens his mouth to cry out. At the same moment, he opens his. The sound of their one scream wakes him. The old man sat on the other side of the fire, listening. Old? He was ancient, with more years behind him than any living thing in the dark of that great forest--turtle, owl, deer, wolf, bear, all were children in comparison. The years, kind to no one, had done their best to weather his flesh, weaken his muscle, erode his bone. His body displayed none of the power and comeliness that had so marked it when the twentieth century was young. Time had etched lines long and deep into his face. His white hair hung over his shoulders in spidery wisps. The weight of ten decades of living had bent his spine, but only slightly. In the firelight, he appeared to be the ghost of a thing, not the thing itself. And yet the young man who stared at him across the fire perceived only wisdom, only possibility. "Many times you have seen this vision?" the old man asked. "Many times," the young man answered. "That is all of it?" The young man nodded. "All of it." "The eagle is sacred. Killing an eagle, that is a terrible thing." The fire popped. An ember leapt from the flames, landed on the jeans the old man was wearing. The old man gazed up at the stars and didn't seem to notice. "Your leg, Henry," the young man said. But the ember had burned itself out. "And so," the old man finally said, as if speaking to the stars. "Why now?" The young man didn't understand the question. "Why now what?" The old man's eyes came back to earth. "You tell me." The young man knew better than to press this elder, his mentor. He considered his reply. "Now, because it worries me. It's a portent, Henry. Something terrible is going to happen. My visions are always about terrible things. I've never had one that's hopeful." "They have proven helpful," the old man pointed out. Then he asked again, as if it were a new question, "Why now?" "If you mean why have I come to you only now, it's because I thought I could figure this out on my own. But I don't have a clue. I need help, before it's too late." The old man closed his eyes, looked as if he were about to sleep. Then, "Too late for what?" "If I understood the vision, I would understand that." "Maybe so. Maybe not. Visions are tricky. They can be the thing itself, or the shadow of the thing." "If it's only a shadow, why does it scare me so much?" The old man took a stick from the fire, the end still licked by tongues of flame. He moved it toward the young man's face. The flames came nearer and nearer, until the young man could feel the heat on his cheek, the fire only inches from his flesh. But he didn't flinch. "You are not afraid?" the old man asked. "I believe you won't burn me. Or if you do, there's purpose in it." "A vision is like that." The old man returned the stick to the fire. He stared deeply into the young man's face, his eyes dark, hard, gleaming in the flickering light. "Who is the boy?" "I'm the boy," the young man answered. "And I'm not." "What is this beast that frightens you?" "I don't know. It's behind me. I never see it." "And who is it you are afraid for, Stephen O'Connor?" "For the boy," Stephen answered. "And for me." He leaned toward the old man. "And I don't know why, Henry, but for you, too." Excerpted from Desolation Mountain: A Novel by William Kent Krueger All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Cork O Connor (Male), Private investigator, Remarried, Father, Irish American, Ojibwa, Half-Irish, half-Native American; newly married;
Rainy Bisonette (Female), Remarried, Mother, New wife of Cork;
Private investigators
Ojibwa Indians
Fathers and sons
Airplane accidents
Search for truth
First responders
Mysterious disappearances
Arizona - Southwest (U.S.) / West (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
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Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

The narrative begins in 1969, when two boys riding their bikes come upon the body of Chase Andrews half submerged in a swamp. The rest of the story tells us how he got there and why we might wish he had never been found. In alternating chapters, Owens circles back 17 years to when Chase was just a boy tormenting Kya Clark, whose adored mother walked down the lane one day and never returned. "Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother." Left in the care of her drunken father, 6-year-old Kya quickly learns how to placate this violent man, a lesson taught by the minnows in a nearby stream: "Just keep out of the way, don't let him see you, dart from sunspots to shadows." Kya's real life begins at age 10. Deserted by her father and taunted in school as a "swamp rat," she retreats from civilization, turning elsewhere for sustenance and survival. "Drifting back to the predictable cycles of tadpoles and the ballet of fireflies, Kya burrowed deeper into the wordless wilderness. Nature seemed the only stone that would not slip midstream." What follows is a gorgeous study of a life lived among herons and gulls and the occasional human who treats her decently. (The love of her life is a boy named Tate, who brings her books and teaches her to read.) Over the years, "the marsh girl," as she comes to be known, develops into a bona fide naturalist, translating her observations into drawings and paintings and recording those observations in carefully detailed journals. "Female fireflies draw in strange males with dishonest signals and eat them. Female insects, Kya thought, know how to deal with their lovers." In the end, Owens goes a bit too far as she attempts to make amends for Kya's lonely childhood and solitary life. But it must be said that Kya has earned it. A COLLEGE student named Stephen O'Connor has a vision, described in elegiac and frightful detail by William Kent Krueger in DESOLATION MOUNTAIN (Atria, $26). In this dreamlike revelation, a boy shoots an arrow into the air and brings down a mighty eagle. The next day, a private plane crashes on the Iron Lake Reservation, slamming into a mountain the Indians call "Devil's Eye" and killing Senator Olympia McCarthy. Cork O'Connor, Stephen's father and the standup hero in this thriving series set in northern Minnesota, insinuates himself into an inquiry that draws investigators from several government agencies, along with some beefy guys wearing camo and carrying serious weapons. Krueger dismisses the "zoo of federal agencies" that officially take over the case to concentrate on the O'Connors and their Indian friends, who understand and respect Iron Lake and its legends. That pays off in dynamic action scenes on the mountain as well as manly-man moments in a sweat lodge, around a fire ring and over bison burgers at Sam's Place. marcia muller was among the first to send a female private detective down the mean streets of modern American crime fiction when Sharon McCone, Muller's San Francisco sleuth, solved her first case in 1977, doing investigative work for the All Souls Legal Cooperative. More than 30 books into the series, McCone is still on the job, now working for her own firm. THE BREAKERS (Grand Central, $26) finds her down by Ocean Beach, looking for Michelle (Cheile) Curley, who restores old houses and hasn't been seen since she entered her latest project, a bedraggled 1903 mansion known as the Breakers. McCone methodically inspects the entire house, hesitating only when she comes upon a pictorial rogues gallery of California serial killers enshrined in the attic. Although this macabre exhibition doesn't cause McCone to alter her coolly professional narrative voice, it makes her wonder about the note Cheile left behind: "I've got a right to disappear." "life sped BY in Vientiane like a Volkswagen van on blocks," Colin Cotterill drolly informs us in DON'T EAT ME (Soho Crime, $26.95), the latest installment in the curious life of Dr. Siri Paiboun, formerly the national coroner of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, but now a quirky amateur sleuth. The discovery of a corpse half devoured by animals leads to a grim story about the illegal trade in wildlife and other living things, caused in part by embargoes imposed by neighboring Thailand. To take our minds off these horrors, Siri has acquired a movie camera to film his screenplay for a Lao version of "War and Peace." It's a worthy project, but not without difficulties since everyone from Comrade Phooi of the Ministry of Culture to the powerful women's union feels entitled to rewrite his script. Marilyn STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.

  Publishers Weekly Review

A fatal plane crash drives Edgar-winner Krueger's haunting, supernaturally tinged 17th mystery to feature Aurora, Minn., former sheriff Cork O'Connor (after 2017's Sulfur Springs). Cork has been worried about his grown son, Stephen, who's been having a disturbing vision. When a plane carrying controversial Senator Olympia McCarthy and her family goes down in the Iron Lake Reservation, near Desolation Mountain, it eerily echoes Stephen's vision. As a member of the Tamarack County Search and Rescue Team, Cork offers his help, but soon the reservation is swarming with government officials. Not one to stand on the sidelines, Cork soon discovers that an old acquaintance, former Secret Service agent Bo Thorson, is involved. When people that were first on the scene go missing, Cork and Bo must trust each other to find them before it's too late and hopefully discover what caused the crash. Krueger skillfully combines the otherworldly setting of the Minnesota wilds with Native American lore to create a winning mystery with more than a few surprises. 16-city author tour. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Assoc. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger delivers yet another "punch-to-the-gut blend of detective story and investigative fiction" ( Booklist , starred review) as Cork O'Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the tragic plane crash of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders. This is a heart-pounding and devastating mystery the scope and consequences of which go far beyond what father or son could ever have imagined.<br> <br> There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. <br> <br> To Stephen O'Connor, Hamlet's dour observation is more than just words. All his life, he has had visions of tragedies to come. When he experiences the vision of a great bird shot from the sky, he knows something terrible is about to happen. The crash of a private plane on Desolation Mountain in a remote part of the Iron Lake Reservation, which kills a United States senator and most of her family, confirms Stephen's worst fears.<br> <br> Stephen joins his father, Cork O'Connor and a few Ojibwe men from the nearby Iron Lake reservation to sift through the smoldering wreckage when the FBI arrives and quickly assumes control of the situation. What seems like the end of the O'Connors' involvement is, however, only the beginning of a harrowing journey to understand the truth behind the Senator's death. As he initiates his own probe, Cork O'Connor stumbles upon a familiar face in Bo Thorson, a private security consultant whose unnamed clients have hired him to look quietly into the cause of the crash. The men agree to join forces in their investigation, but soon Cork begins to wonder if Thorson's loyalties lie elsewhere.<br> <br> In that far north Minnesota County, which is overrun with agents of the FBI, NTSB, DoD, and even members of a rightwing militia, all of whom have their own agendas, Cork, Stephen, and Bo attempt to navigate a perilous course. Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, the three men finally understand that to get to the truth, they will have to face the great menace, a beast of true evil lurking in the woods--a beast with a murderous intent of unimaginable scale.
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