Cork O'Connor fans take note: William Kent Krueger doesn't plan to stop writing the popular series of mystery novels anytime soon.
The latest book in the series, Northwest Angle, was published in August, and the St. Paul resident will be touring with signings and readings in Minnesota and beyond for the rest of the fall.
In Northwest Angle, Cork and his family are taking a break, vacationing in Lake of the Woods. A sudden, violent storm changes all of this, as Cork and his daughter Jenny find themselves marooned on a small island. There, they find a young victim of extreme violence, and an abandoned baby. Over the course of several days, Cork works to uncover the identity of the infant and why his mother was murdered.
The book also deals with the continued fallout from earlier books, especially the death of Jo O'Connor, Cork's wife. Krueger sees Northwest Angle as the closure to that particular storyline.
A key element here, and in other books, is spirituality. The O'Connors have a mixed Irish Catholic and Ojibwe heritage and that comes out throughout the book.
"I don't have a religious or spiritual agenda at all," Krueger says. "But the O'Connors as I created them do. Cork has his feet in two different traditions. His sister-in-law was going to be a nun and one of his daughters has become a nun. His son Stephen is a lot like Cork in that he is involved in two different spiritual traditions. It must be something that is important to me, or it wouldn't be in there at all."
Religion also plays a vital role in the plot, as the O'Connors run afoul of a right-wing apocalyptic cult that has taken up residency on one of the islands. "I wasn't trying to make a religious statement, but a lot of reviewers have focused on the religious and spiritual side of the book," he says.
Krueger knows that this is part of the writing game. Once the book leaves his computer and goes out into the world, it becomes something bigger and out of his control. "You just have to let go of it, and if you are going to be a writer, you have to have a thick skin.
Responses to books are a sort of meld between the story itself and how readers perceive the story. You get readers and reviewers that you think may miss the point, but that's the way they see the story," he says.
Krueger hasn't paused in his writing. He has just started a three-book contract that will see a new publication in the series next year, followed by an unrelated novel in 2013. And don't expect an end to the books anytime soon.
"I have such a devoted readership for the series. I look at series I love reading and I've always been disappointed when they stop. It's like good friends are gone. That's why readers come back. They are coming back to characters and people they love," Krueger says.