In this prequel to the popular Cork O’Connor series, Cork is twelve years old and takes an active viewing role watching his father, Liam O’Connor, the local sheriff, navigate between two worlds (the white man and the Native community) after Cork discovers the body of a man, hanged in an abandoned logging camp.
This is a really fascinating addition to the Cork O’Connor series. We get here one of Cork’s first looks at what it means to be the sheriff in such a rural community, as well as what it means to walk and work among the white man while having some Native blood (did we know that about Cork? I am not familiar enough with these books to know if this was commonly revealed before).
The theme that runs through this book is “on the edge.” It constantly feels as though something is about to break – tensions between the Native and white communities; tensions between individuals. As controlled and steady as Liam is (and he’s a model of implacability) there is the sense that something is about to happen in his world. And for Cork we get the very clear message that this incident was his first experience with violent crime and that perhaps this, along with his father’s work, was the catalyst for what he would become.
For those who are already more familiar with the Cork O’Connor books, we really come to see where Cork gets his drive for getting to the truth of a situation. Liam could easily have given in to pressures here and not followed through with some of the investigation. He is particularly pressured by the Native community to not pursue and line of inquiry into the idea of anyone on the reservation killing Big John Manydeeds.
This book is packed with just about everything you want in a good book. There’s a mystery and deception. There are some red herrings surrounding the mystery. There are well-created, strong characters (and not just the principle characters). There’s lots of tension, character growth, and a good, hard look at racism and bigotry. There’s also just darn good storytelling.
Looking for a good book? Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger is a prequel to Krueger’s popular Cork O’Connor series. It is a powerful story and a good detective mystery.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: William Kent Krueger
series: Cork O’Connor #0
publisher: Atria Books
hardcover, 385 pages