Desolation Mountain: A Novel

Desolation Mountain: A Novel

by William Kent Krueger


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Edgar Award-winning author William Kent Krueger delivers another heart-pounding thriller filled with “dynamic action scenes” (The New York Times) as Cork O’Connor and his son Stephen work together to uncover the truth behind the death of a senator on Desolation Mountain and the mysterious disappearances of several first responders.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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.

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. As he initiates his own probe, Cork 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.

Roadblocked by lies from the highest levels of government, uncertain who to trust, and facing growing threats the deeper they dig for answers, Cork, Stephen, and Bo 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. Krueger delivers yet another “punch-to-the-gut blend of detective story and investigative fiction” (Booklist, starred review).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501147470
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Series: Cork O'Connor Series , #17
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 20,387
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(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

Desolation Mountain

  • 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.”

  • Customer Reviews

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    Desolation Mountain (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Cork O'Connor Series #17) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really appreciate the depth of the characters. You grow to hate the bad guys and care about the good guys! Nice work Kent!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I like the way it is never over until it is over. There is always another tread leading somewhere else
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Fast paced and multi layered!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Wonderful prose and this time its back to what I liked in this great series. I felt disconnected from the last 3 outings but now the magic is back.
    Anonymous 9 months ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I would recommend to anyone!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    LEH0644 More than 1 year ago
    Peace at the Iron Lake Reservation is shattered when a plane carrying a United States senator crashes and all aboard are killed. First responders from the reservation are turned back by the FBI. Also on hand are military-looking individuals who are heavily armed. The NTSB says pilot error is to blame but too many things are not adding up for Cork O’Connor and he is determined to find out what happened. He runs into Bo Thorson, former Secret Service and friend of Cork, and does not get an answer when Cork asks who he is working for. Lots of suspense.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Enjoyed all the books in this series
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Another powerful novel by this talented author; enjoy!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    First time I read this author but it wont be my last
    mobile More than 1 year ago
    Another excellent O'Connor family story. We have one storyline where Stephen is maturing and questioning both his visions and what his place is in his family and his community. I hate reviews that give the whole story, in a nutshell, removing all the fun of reading the book. Stephen has one last vision in the book and not only did it bring tears to my eyes but it gave me hope that this is not the last we will see of the O'Connor family.
    tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
    Stephen O‘Connor, Cork O’Connor’s young son, has always had visions presaging tragedies. This novel is based on one in which he sees an eagle shot from the sky and a menace he can’t identify at his back. And then a plane carrying a U.S. Senator and her family crashes on Desolation Mountain. Cork and Stephen subsequently join others attempting to find survivors and clues. Soon, some of the first responders go missing, and father and son begin to investigate. Then Cork inadvertently meets Bo Thorson, a character from a long ago novel, then a secret service agent, now a private investigator. They join forces, but soon Cork begins to doubt Bo’s role. The area is overrun with representatives of various federal agencies and is cordoned off. The plot centers on the meaning of the vision and solution of the cause of the crash. This is the 18th novel in the series, and provides, for the first time, a deeper look into Cork and Stephen’s relationship. As is a constant in the series, it is well-written, and the descriptions of the North Country graphic and excellent. Highly recommended.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Big disappointment. Plot fell apart chapter 40.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Not bad