12 Best Authors Like William Kent Krueger for Adventurous

Check out our list of the best authors like William Kent Krueger. Each one blends outdoor adventure with riveting mystery stories for page-turning novels.

William Kent Krueger is the author of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, a series of bestselling novels set in Minnesota. As a boy, Krueger knew he wanted to be a writer after writing a short story in elementary school that received high praise from his teacher and parents. To support himself as a young man, he worked many outdoor jobs, including logging timber and digging ditches, then started writing as a freelancer. After publishing many short stories and sketches, he wrote his first novel, Iron Lake, in 1998.

The book won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and the Barry Award for Best First Novel, among others. Iron Lake was the first book in the Cook O’Connor series set in Minnesota. Because many of the people in Krueger’s hometown were of mixed ancestry with Native American heritage, he wanted to honor that culture in his writing. Krueger researched the Ojibwe people to weave that into his books and set many books around the Native American reservation life. Cork O’Connor, his main character, is part Irish and part Ojibwe.

After the success of his first book, Krueger went on to publish Boundary Waters in 1999 and Purgatory Ridge, a Minnesota Book Award winner, in 2001. With the most recent O’Connor book, Fox Creek, in 2022, he has 19 books in the series. Suppose you are a fan of the combination of outdoor adventure and mystery woven into Krueger’s books. In that case, these authors are an enjoyable choice for your book list.

Best Authors Like William Kent Krueger Ranked

1. Steve Hamilton, 1961 –

A mysterious door in dark room
Image of a mysterious door with light shining through

Steve Hamilton is an American author best known for his Alex McKnight series of mystery books. The author started writing while working full-time for a tech company, writing twelve books at night while his family was asleep. The books became successful enough for him to quit his job and write full-time. Hamilton’s first novel was A Cold Day in Paradise, published in 1998, earning a Shamus Award, Anthony Award, Barry Award, and Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel. 

Winter of the Wolf Moon was his second book, published in 2000, and it was on the New York Times Notable Book list. In 2016, Hamilton introduced a new mystery series starring Nick Mason as his main character. The Second Life of Nick Mason, the first in the series, was an instant New York Times bestseller.

“This isn’t freedom. This is mobility. Don’t get those two things confused.”

Steve Hamilton, The Second Life of Nick Mason
The Second Life of Nick Mason (A Nick Mason Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hamilton, Steve (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/17/2016 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

2. Craig Johnson, 1961 –

Craig Johnson
Photo of Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson’s character, Walt Longmire, became a household name after the Longmire Netflix drama was introduced. This mystery series has multiple awards to its name, including the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year award, the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award, the Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, and the Will Rogers Award for Fiction. Johnson has published over 23 books and short-story collections in the series in 14 languages. Each year the town of Buffalo, Wyoming, celebrates his Western detective fiction books with an annual festival called Longmire Days.

In addition to his novels, Johnson has published eBook short stories and a collection of Christmas stories called Christmas in Absaroka County. Daughter of the Morning Star, his 2021 book, was a New York Times bestseller in hardcover and paperback.

“There are a number of smells I’ve loved in my lifetime, but few can compare with the smell of a bookstore.”

Craig Johnson, Daughter of the Morning Star
Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery
  • Johnson, Craig (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 08/09/2022 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

3. Michael Connelly, 1956 –

Michael Connelly
Photo of Michael Connelly

Michael Connelley was born in Philadelphia and moved to Florida when he was 12. While in Florida, he saw someone toss a gun into some bushes, which he reported to the police. This experienced showed him what law enforcement was like, and it became the fodder for his future writing career. With his first novel, The Black Echo, published in 1992, he launched a successful writing career.

The book won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for Best First Novel. It introduced Harry Bosch, his most famous detective. After writing three more Detective Bosch books, Connelley could stop working and devote his time to writing full-time. Eventually, Connelley added legal fiction to his works with the publication of The Lincoln Lawyer, his first book featuring defense attorney Mickey Haller. To date, Connelley has won most awards given to mystery writers, including the RBA Prize for Crime Writing and the Dagger Award.

Looking for more reading material talking adventure? Check out our guide to the best authors like Bill Bryson!

“I view people two ways. They’re either eye-for-an-eye people or they are turn-the-cheek people.”

Michael Connelley, The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer (A Lincoln Lawyer Novel, 1)
  • Connelly, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 06/28/2016 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

4. Louis Penny, 1958 –

Louis Penny
Photo of author Louis Penny

Canadian author Louise Penny started her professional career as a radio broadcaster. Before starting her career, she earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. After 18 years on the radio, she started writing her first novel, a historical fiction book she had never finished. Instead, she did complete a crime novel called Still Life, which placed second in the United Kingdom’s Debut Dagger competition.

The book won the New Blood Dagger Award, Candad’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel, the Dilys Award, the Barry Award, and the Anthony Award. Among her most notable works are her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series books, which have been made into a television adaptation called Three Pines.

“Myrna could spend happy hours browsing bookcases. She felt if she could just get a good look at a person’s bookcase and their grocery cart, she’d pretty much know who they were.”

Louis Penny, Still Life
Sale
Still Life
  • Great product!
  • Penny, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 312 Pages - 09/30/2008 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Minotaur (Publisher)

5. C.J. Box, 1958-present

Cowboy silhouette
Photo of a cowboy holding lasso at sunset

A native of Wyoming, C.J. Box used his knowledge of life in the West to build his books which feature Joe Pickett, a game warden who finds himself amid several criminal investigations. Box launched his writing career in 2001 with Open Season, the first book in the Joe Pickett series, which won Anthony, Macavity, Barry, and Gumshoe awards. Blue Heaven, his first stand-alone novel, earned the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel of 2008. In addition, Box has earned the BIG WYO award from Wyoming Tourism, the Western Heritage Award for Literature from the National Cowboy Museum, and the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Award.

Wyomingites, Joe had observed, didn’t know what to do when it rained except get out of it, watch it through the window, and wait for it to go away.”

C.J. Box. Open Season
Open Season (A Joe Pickett Novel)
  • Box, C. J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 05/31/2016 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

6. Christine Carbo

Beautiful nature at logan pass, glacier national park, mt in summer
Logan pass glacier national park

Christine Carbo writes about mysteries in the wilderness of Montana, putting her among the authors like William Krueger, who writes about nature and solving crimes. The Wild Inside was her debut novel, featuring Special Agent Ted Systead, who is called to Glacier National Park to investigate a crime with a very personal story behind it. Carbo turned to writing after a messy divorce and spending some time supporting herself as a single mom owning her own Pilates studio. Though she is a new novel writer, she has already won several awards, including the High Plains Book Award, the Silver Falchion Award, and the Women’s National Book Association Pinkley Prize.

“Some people are the world’s best at being alone in the company of others.”

Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Sale
The Wild Inside: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series)
  • Carbo, Christine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 06/16/2015 (Publication Date) - Atria (Publisher)

7. Dianne Freeman, 1958-present

Woman on a balcony
Image of a woman on a balcony

The author of Countess of Harleigh MysteriesDianne Freeman, doesn’t write about mysteries in the wilderness but rather mysteries that took place in the high society of Victorian England. Still, her enjoyable writing style makes her worth exploring for fans of Krueger’s work. Freeman grew up in Michigan and worked in corporate finance jobs for three decades before launching her writing career with the publication of A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder in 2018. She has six books in her series and was honored with an Agatha and Lefty award. She was named a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

“We must find a gentleman in this house who is so chivalrous, he would move a dead body for a lady, and has so much integrity, he would never use that favor against her. Is there such a paragon on this earth?”

Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder
Sale
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Freeman, Dianne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 06/26/2018 (Publication Date) - Kensington (Publisher)

8. William Shaw, 1959 –

Young man with a flashlight enters the stone tunnel and looks in the dark, monochrome photo
Image of a man with a  flashlight in a dark tunnel

William Shaw was born in the United States but now lives in the UK. Known for his crime fiction books starring DS Alexandra Cupidi, he has been longlisted for Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and was shortlisted for several other prestigious crime novel awards, including both the CWA Historical Dagger and the CWA Golden Dagger. Though his crime fiction novels are relatively new, he has several non-fiction books, including A Superhero for Hire and Spying in Guru Land. He published his first novel, She’s Leaving Home, in 2013.

He introduced Cupidi in the stand-alone novel The Birdwatcher, now considered a prequel to the main series. Next came Salt Lane in 2018 and Deadland in 2019, establishing the Cupidi series as a bestselling option in crime fiction. If you like reading more adventure books, you might want to explore our round-up of the best adventure books.

“The conventional art world was a fortress that built clean white walls around itself to protect the favoured few. It was uninterested in people who hadn’t come up through the system.”

William Shaw, Deadland
Deadland (DS Alexandra Cupidi)
  • Shaw, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/06/2020 (Publication Date) - riverrun (Publisher)

9. Keith McCafferty, 1953 –

Young man flyfishing at sunrise
Photo of a young man flyfishing

Keith McCafferty edits the survival and outdoor skills pieces published in Field & Stream Magazine. He puts his knowledge of the world of the outdoors to good use in his books, which often feature hunters or fishermen. Crazy Mountain Kiss, his 2016 novel, won the Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel. 

The Royal Wulff Murders, his first book, was published in 2012 and received a red star review from Publisher’s Weekly and a recommendation from C.J. Box, landing him among the top mystery writers. The novel was a finalist for the High Plains Book Award and was a selection for the Book of the Month Club. Cold Hearted River, his 2017 novel, won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award for Best Novel.

“As concerns the possibility that the trunk contained Hemingway treasures unrelated to piscatorial pursuits, and perhaps of far greater value, there is one way to find out. Pour a drink, light a fire, and turn the page. I have a story to tell.”

Keith McCafferty, Cold Hearted River
Sale
Cold Hearted River: A Novel (A Sean Stranahan Mystery)
  • McCafferty, Keith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 07/03/2018 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

10. Dana Stabenow, 1952 –

Ketchikan, Alaska. Creek street, the historic broadwalk
Image of a small town boardwalk in Alaska

Dana Stabenow is an American author known for her science fiction and mystery novels. A graduate of the University of Alaska, Stabenow uses her home state of Alaska as the setting for her stories and often weaves the wilderness into her books. A Cold Day for Murder was her first mystery book and introduced Kate Shuga, and it won the 1993 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. Though Not Dead, her 2011 Kate Shugak mystery, won the Nero Award.

Stabenow also has a series starring Liam Campbell. His books and those featuring Shugak often interconnect, though they can be read independently.

“Three-hour layover in Seattle. If you were flying Alaska Airlines and you wanted to go to hell you had to fly through Seattle to get there.”

Dana Stabenow, Though Not Dead
Though Not Dead (A Kate Shugak Investigation)
  • Stabenow, Dana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Head of Zeus (Publisher)

11. Geraldine Brooks, 1955 –

Geraldine Brooks
Photo of Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is an Australian native who attended the University of Sydney before starting a career as a reporter. In the 1980s, she earned a Greg Shackleton Memorial Scholarship. She came to the United States to study for her master’s degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. After graduation, she started a career as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. 

In 1994, she wrote her first book, Nine Parts of Desire, dipping into her experiences with Muslim women in the Middle East as a reporter. The book was an international bestseller, and in 1997 she wrote Foreign Correspondence, which won the Nita Kibble Literary Award. She continued writing, and in 2006 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel March. 

“For to know a man’s library is, in some measure, to know his mind.”

Geraldine Brooks, March
Sale
March: A Novel
  • Brooks, Geraldine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 01/31/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

12. Amor Towles, 1964 –

 Amor Towles
 Photo of Amor Towles

Amor Towles is an American novelist with several New York Times bestsellers. Originally from Boston, Towles graduated from Yale College and earned a master’s in English from Stanford. He worked as an investment professional for two decades before retiring to write full-time. He has three novels, Rules of Civility, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Lincoln Highway

In all, he has sold more than six million copies with works in over 30 languages. All three books have been bestsellers. 

“And I do it because it’s unnecessary. For what is kindness but the performance of an act that is both beneficial to another and unrequired?”

Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway
Sale
The Lincoln Highway: A Novel
  • Hardcover Book
  • Towles, Amor (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 10/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Viking (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best science fiction authors!

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.