Vermilion Drift: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Sep 7, 2010 - Fiction - 320 pages
5 Reviews

Some nights, Corcoran O’Connor dreams his father’s death.

William Kent Krueger’s gripping tale of suspense begins with a recurring nightmare, a gun, and a wound in the earth so deep and horrific that it has a name: Vermilion Drift.

When the Department of Energy puts an underground iron mine on its short list of potential sites for storage of nuclear waste, a barrage of protest erupts in Tamarack County, Minnesota, and Cork is hired as a security consultant.

Deep in the mine during his first day on the job, Cork stumbles across a secret room that contains the remains of six murder victims. Five appear to be nearly half a century old—connected to what the media once dubbed "The Vanishings," a series of unsolved disappearances in the summer of 1964, when Cork’s father was sheriff in Tamarack County. But the sixth has been dead less than a week. What’s worse, two of the bodies—including the most recent victim—were killed using Cork’s own gun, one handed down to him from his father.

As Cork searches for answers, he must dig into his own past and that of his father, a well-respected man who harbored a ghastly truth. Time is running out, however. New threats surface, and unless Cork can unravel the tangled thread of clues quickly, more death is sure to come.

Vermilion Drift
is a powerful novel, filled with all the mystery and suspense for which Krueger has won so many awards. A poignant portrayal of the complexities of family life, it’s also a sobering reminder that even those closest to our hearts can house the darkest—and deadliest—of secrets.

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User Review  - preschool8001 -

I have been following William Kent Krugers Corcoran OConner series and love it.They are violent but not gratuitously full of interesting facts sensitive and very very interesting. I would recommend reading the series more or less in order. Read full review

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Former sheriff, Cork O'Connor is asked to find Lauren Cavanaugh by her brother Max. Max is the owner of the Great North Mining Company. Vermilion One is one of the deepest mines and is being considered as a possible dumping site for nuclear waste. This is causing heated protests from the locals.
After meeting with the mine officials, Max tells Cork that he wants to show him something. He brings him to Vermilion One and they find a sign spray painted on the wall, "We die, you die."
Since no one noticed the person who did the spray painting, Cork feels that there is another enterance to the mine. As he goes deep into the mine searching, he finds a secret room that has six bodies. Five of the bodies have been there for a long time and one has recently been placed there. This reminds Cork of The Vanishings.
In 1964, two young Native American women and one white woman disappeared. Cork's father was the sheriff at that time. The white woman who disappeared was Monique Cavanaugh, Max's mother.
In a story deep with Indian folk lore, Cork speaks to his ancient friend, Henry Meloux. Dispite advancing age, Henry is able to see things. He tells Cork that the reservation is stirred up and then tells Cork who to speak to in order to identify the other two bodies found in the mine.
It is interesting that Cork's father was sheriff during The Vanishings. It creates a moral delemma for Cork to consider if his father had been involved.
As always with William Kent Krueger, there are details about the Ojibwe Indian culture and beliefs. Cork is well described. The story is well told and laid out as if the pieces were put together like parts of a menu that the reader will learn and be entertained by its realistic detail.

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About the author (2010)

William Kent Krueger is the award-winning author of fourteen previous Cork O'Connor novels, including Tamarack County and Windigo Island, as well as the novel Ordinary Grace, winner of the 2014 Edgar Award for best novel. He lives in the Twin Cities with his family. Visit his website at

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