Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4)

Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4)

by William Kent Krueger


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When a high school student’s body is found and her boyfriend goes missing, tough-as-nails former sheriff Cork O’Connor is forced into the center of an eerie mystery with a shocking twist in this “vivid and realistic” (Booklist), Anthony Award-winning novel from New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.

When the body of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year’s Eve, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn’s self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O’Connor isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent.

In an uphill battle to clear Solemn’s name, Cork encounters no shortage of adversity. Some—like bigotry and bureaucracy—he knows all too well. What Cork isn’t prepared for is the emergence of a long-held resentment from his own childhood. And when Solemn reappears, claiming to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow, the mystery becomes thornier than Cork could ever have anticipated. And that's when the miracles start happening.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439157794
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 07/21/2009
Series: Cork O'Connor Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 38,150
Product dimensions: 5.34(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.41(d)

About the Author

William Kent Krueger is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary Grace, winner of the Edgar Award for best novel, as well as eighteen Cork O’Connor novels, including Desolation Mountain and Sulfur Springs. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family. Visit his website at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

January, as usual, was meat locker cold, and the girl had already been missing for nearly two days. Corcoran O'Connor couldn't ignore the first circumstance. The second he tried not to think about.

He stood in snow up to his ass, more than two feet of drifted powder blinding white in the afternoon sun. He lifted his tinted goggles and glanced at the sky, a blue ceiling held up by green walls of pine. He stood on a ridge that overlooked a small oval of ice called Needle Lake, five miles from the nearest maintained road. Aside from the track his snowmobile had pressed into the powder, there was no sign of human life. A rugged vista lay before him — an uplifted ridge, a jagged shoreline, a bare granite pinnacle that jutted from the ice and gave the lake its name — but the recent snowfall had softened the look of the land. In his time, Cork had seen nearly fifty winters come and go. Sometimes the snow fell softly, sometimes it came in a rage. Always it changed the face of whatever it touched. Cork couldn't help thinking that in this respect, snow was a little like death. Except that death, when it changed a thing, changed it forever.

He took off his mittens, deerskin lined with fleece. He turned back to the Polaris snowmobile that Search and Rescue had provided for him, and he pulled a radio transmitter from the compartment behind the seat. When he spoke through the mouth hole of his ski mask, his words ghosted against the radio in a cloud of white vapor.

"Unit Three to base. Over."

"This is base. Go ahead, Cork."

"I'm at Needle Lake. No sign of her. I'm going to head up to Hat Lake. That'll finish this section."

"I copy that. Have you seen Bledsoe?"

"That's a negative."

"He completed the North Arm trail and was going to swing over to give you a hand. Also, be advised that the National Weather Service has issued a severe weather warning. A blizzard's coming our way. Sheriff's thinking of pulling everybody in."

Cork O'Connor had lived in the Northwoods of Minnesota most of his life. Although at the moment there was only a dark cloud bank building in the western sky, he knew that in no time at all the weather could turn.

"Ten-four, Patsy. I'll stay in touch. Unit Three out."

He'd been out since first light, and despite the deerskin mittens, the Sorel boots and thick socks, the quilted snowmobile suit, the down parka, and the ski mask, he was cold to the bone. He put the radio back, lifted a Thermos from the compartment under the seat of the Polaris, and poured a cup of coffee. It was only lukewarm, but it felt great going down his throat. As he sipped, he heard the sound of another machine cutting through the pines to his right. In a minute, a snowmobile broke through a gap in the trees, and shot onto the trail where Cork's own machine sat idle. Oliver Bledsoe buzzed up beside Cork and killed the engine. He dismounted and pulled off his ski mask.

"Heard you on the radio with Patsy," Bledsoe said. "Knew I'd catch you here." He cast a longing look at Cork's coffee. "Got any left?"

"Couple swallows," Cork said. He poured the last of the coffee into the cup and offered it to Bledsoe. "All yours."


Bledsoe was true-blood Iron Lake Ojibwe. He was large, muscular, a hair past fifty, with a wide, honest face and warm almond eyes. Although he was now an attorney and headed the legal affairs office for the tribal council, in his early years he'd worked as a logger and he knew this area well. Cork was glad to have him there.

Bledsoe stripped off his gloves and wrapped his hands around the warm cup. He closed his eyes to savor the coffee as it coursed down his throat. "Anything?" he asked.

"Nothing," Cork said.

"Lot of ground to cover." Bledsoe handed the cup back and glanced north where the wilderness stretched all the way to Canada. "It's a shame, nice girl like her, something like this." He dug beneath his parka and brought out a pack of Chesterfields and Zippo lighter. He offered a cigarette to Cork, who declined. He lit up, took a deep breath, and exhaled a great white cloud of smoke and wet breath. He put his gloves back on and let the cigarette dangle from the corner of his mouth. Nodding toward the sky in the west, he said, "You hear what's coming in? If that girl didn't have bad luck, she'd have no luck at all."

Cork heard the squawk of his radio and picked it up.

"Base to all units. It's official. We've got us a blizzard on the doorstep. A real ass kicker, looks like. Come on in. Sheriff says he doesn't want anyone else lost out there."

Cork listened as one by one the other units acknowledged.

"Unit Three. Unit Four. Did you copy? Over."

"This is Unit Three. Bledsoe's with me. We copy, Patsy. But listen. I still haven't checked Hat Lake. I'd like to have a quick look before I head back."

"Negative, Cork. Sheriff says turn around now. He's pulling in the dogs and air search, too. Weather service says it's not a storm to mess with."

"Is Wally there?"

"He won't tell you anything different."

"Put him on."

Cork waited.

"Schanno, here. This better be good."

Cork could see him, Sheriff Wally Schanno. Grim, harried. With a missing girl, a whale of a blizzard, and a recalcitrant ex-sheriff on his hands.

"I'm just shy of Hat Lake, Wally. I'm going to check it out before I turn back."

"The hell you are. Have you taken a good look behind you?"

Glancing back to the west, toward the cloud bank that was now looming high above the tree line, Cork knew time was short.

"It would be a shame to come this far and not make it that last mile."

"Bring yourself in. That's an order."

"What are you going to do if I don't? Fire me? I'm a volunteer."

"You want to stay on Search and Rescue, you'll come back now. You read me, Unit Three?"

"Loud and clear, Sheriff."

"Good. I expect to see you shortly. Base out."

Schanno sounded weary deep down in his soul. Cork knew that the sheriff would turn away from the radio to face the family of the missing girl, having just reduced significantly the chances of finding her alive. For Cork, being out there in the cold and the snow with a blizzard at his back was infinitely preferable to what Sheriff Wally Schanno had to deal with. Once again, he was exceedingly glad that the badge he himself had once worn was now pinned to the chest of another man.

"Guess that about does it," Oliver Bledsoe said.

"I'm going to check Hat Lake."

"You heard the sheriff."

"I've got to know, Ollie."

Bledsoe nodded. "You want a hand?"

"No. You go on back. I won't be more than half an hour behind you."

"Schanno'll skin you alive."

"I'll take my chances with Wally."

Cork climbed onto the seat, kicked the engine over, and shot east in a roar of sparkling powder.

He hated snowmobiles. Hated the noise, a desecration of the silence of the deep woods that was to him a beauty so profound it felt sacred. Hated the kind of people snowmobiling brought, people who looked at the woods as they would an amusement park, just another diversion in the never-ending battle against boredom. Hated the ease with which the machines allowed access to a wilderness that could swallow the ignorant and unwary without a trace. The only value he could see in a snowmobile was that it allowed him, in a situation like this, to cover a large area quickly.

By the time he reached Hat Lake, the dark wall of cloud behind him stretched north and south from horizon to horizon, completely blotting out the late afternoon sun. The sight gave Cork chills that had nothing to do with the temperature. He found no sign of a snowmobile on the trail that circled the lake. Exactly what he'd suspected, but he wanted to be certain. The wind rose at his back. He watched ghosts of snow swirl up and pirouette across the lake ice. Except for the dancing snow and the trees as they bent to the rising wind, nothing moved. Not one flicker of life across the whole, frigid face of that land.

Copyright © 2004 by William Kent Krueger

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Blood Hollow (Cork O'Connor Series #4) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Fitzlegs More than 1 year ago
Kreuger's characters are very believable. They have positive qualities, but sometimes take the wrong path and pay the consequences. His descriptions of Upper Minnesota are a delight to read. After I read Kreuger's first book, Iron Lake, I kept reading book 2, book 3, etc. I am now reading book 12. I will be sad when I have finished the series, and have no more stories of Cork O'Connor and his family to enjoy. Krueger is a serious writer. His plots are all different-no cookie cutter plots and predictable formulas. I happily recommend this book to anyone who likes a well written, good book.
jcorkran More than 1 year ago
Reading the series in order because I like to know what Krueger is talking about, I enjoyed numbers 3 and 4 considerably more than the first two. It's like Krueger has finally found his pace and style. Blood Hollow has a number of wonderful twists and turns that I did not expect, which serve to make the story more interesting. I will definitely keep reading the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series just keeps getting better and better. Just about the time I think I know who the bad guys are, they change. Very enjoyable books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast moving, lots of interesting twists, this book grabbed my attention and wouldn't let me go until I finished it. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was more than just a mystery, it was a profound look into the human soul. I highly recommend this book and strongly suggest you start with the first book in the series...Iron Lake.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Cork O'Conner is now the ex-sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota, but when a young high school girl goes missing one New Year's Eve, and shows up dead in a snow mobile crash in the spring thaw, Cork finds himself in the center of the investigation.  A young "bad boy" Ojibwa, Solemn, seems to be the most likely suspect for his former girlfriend's murder.  Cork believes he's innocent, and besides Cork has a soft spot for the boy because of his connection to the Ojibwa man who basically raised Cork.  The new sheriff, and much of the towns folks would just as soon convict the "Indian" and close the case.  Things get more complicated when Solemn claims to has seen and heard Jesus speak to him.  Then miracles begin happening in the town, and people come from all around to be "healed".  Through all these distractions, Cork must sift through all the possible people who might have had cause to kill the girl. William Kent Kruger develops interesting characters and situations to creat a mystery that is very original.  Clues, answers, and surprises develop very naturally within this continuing saga of the O'Conner family and the people of Aurora. This is a colorful and thoroughly interesting series that lines up with the likes of C J Box and Craig Johnson.  Krueger is a writer that can take a seemingly simple story and develop intrigue beyond the average writer.  I become more engrossed with his writing with each of his books!!
j-dog74 More than 1 year ago
Better than ya'd think
jastbrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
William Kent Kreuger's mystery series featuring Cork O'Connor seemed, in my mind, to start out relatively slowly. I felt that it wasn't until his fourth or fifth book that he really hit his stride. I'm very thankful that I had bought up his complete series before beginning to read them (based on an enthusiastic review I read of a later book).. otherwise I might have given up on the series early on and missed some really great stories. And in hindsight even the early books have a great deal to offer. The novels are set in rural, northern Minnesota for the most part with the action shifting to The U.P. of Michigan in one story and to Wyoming in another. Mr. Kreuger gives Cork O'Connor a family life that is anything but 'storybook'. From one end to the other this is a loving, but modern family, with real life modern problems that they do manage to get resolved. Fairly early in the series, the stories begin increasingly encompassing Cork's and his family's Native American connection to good advantage!This is a very good and satisfying series which I gobbled up faster and faster towards the end. Now I have to sit and eagerly await the next Cork O'Connor adventure. This is a series where the books could be read as stand alones, but for maximum enjoyment I would strongly recommend reading them in the order that they were written.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blood Hollow is the 4th book in the Cork O'Conner books though reading them in order isn't strictly necessary. The two I've read were fairly decent stand-a-lone books. Good book and a pretty decent mystery, hints at a lot of suspects and keeps you guessing who-dun-it till near the end. Cork is an ex-Sheriff of a Aurora MN and when anything strange or unusual comes up he feels the need to stick his nose in and make sure the mystery is solved. A young girl went missing after a New Years eve party, and most thought it was a tragic accident until she was found in the spring. A surprisingly large number of people turn out to have a motive and one young man who's a known troublemaker gets the bulls-eye from the police. Lots of twists and turns on the way to the end.Overall not a bad book, the mystery was really pretty good, but the author likes to throw in 'pretty' descriptions with sometimes strange turn of phrase that for me detracted from the book. Cork is a decent detective who might not always be right but keeps plugging away until he gets the answers he needs.
Talbin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first time Krueger has tipped his hand - I figured out the murderer too early. Still good, but it all unfolded pretty much the way I thought it would. And one extremely little, extremely nitpicky thing - *very* few place names in Minnesota include the word "hollow" - given how well Krueger depicts Minnesota life, this one little thing was jarring to me. (I know, so very persnickety.)
tymfos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blood Hollow is the fourth in William Kent Krueger's series featuring Cork O'Connor. The premise seems straightforward: a rebellious wealthy girl rides off drunk on her snowmobile and disappears after a New Year's Eve party; her body is found in the spring thaw; her Native-American ex-boyfriend (a known hell raiser) is charged with killing her. Cork, our hero, thinks the young man is innocent, and sets out to find "whodunit."With the short library loan term for [Blood Hollow] close to expiring, and dying to know how the mystery turned out, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish this book. And when I was done, I found myself sitting, staring. [Blood Hollow] left me stunned. I had been concerned as Krueger delved yet more deeply into spirituality and mysticism, and entered the realm of visions and miracles. A Native American young man's claimed vision of / encounter with Jesus during a vision quest? Faith healing? It's so easy to trivialize faith writing on that level, if one is not careful. I needn't have worried. As Krueger better acquaints us with his diverse characters and their struggles, he deftly navigates the sea of question marks and the instances of good, bad, ugly, and beautiful, which populate the spiritual lives of all kinds of people, and leaves the reader free to draw his/her own conclusions. He left me with oh so much to think about and no easy answers on any front, except -- FINALLY! -- "whodunit." (And even that answer left the reader with many questions to ponder.)Yes, this was, first and foremost, a mystery! The fact that Krueger dealt openly with spirituality didn't make the mystery any less complex or satisfying. Indeed, it was all a neat puzzle package as Cork pursued truth on a whole lot of levels. What he finds is that nothing and no one is exactly as they appear on the surface -- something he probably knew as a former law enforcement officer, but which was hammered home again and again in this thriller. As Cork unravels lie after lie, and the facades of several of Aurora's leading citizens crumble, the situation becomes yet more bewildering. There are twists and turns galore. I never saw the end coming as it did.And then there are the characters! Krueger doesn't do stereotypes. Each character, major or minor, is fleshed out and complex. They frequently do things that are surprising but which totally fit who they are, as we learn more about them.All of this is set amidst the gorgeous scenery of northern Minnesota, which Krueger portrays with a deft touch -- not so much description as to bog down the flow of the story, but enough to appreciate where you are as you travel through this book.I really loved this book. I am seriously thinking of buying copies of this whole series for my permanent library.
willowwaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful Cork O'Connor book! In this book, Cork is on the trail of the murderer of a young local girl. More and more mysteries are unveiled as the story continues and Krueger keeps you in the dark until the very last page! I loved the quickness of the read, and the way the book flowed. One of my favorite Cork O'Connor books so far. I WILL be reading the rest!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am now a fan. First novel read of Krueger! I plan on reading more. Fan of Cork as well!
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Can't stop reading this series!!!
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