Michael Koryta , THE RIDGE & More

I’m not afraid of the dark
When the sun goes down
And the dreams grow teeth
And the beasts come out
Cast their long shadows
Every time that they start
I’ll be right here with you
I’m not afraid of the dark
Josh Ritter

Michael Koyta’s strength as a story teller is well known. From TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE to THE CYPRESS HOUSE his words have spoken to the readers with a distinct voice that continues to whisper at you long after the book is done.THE RIDGE is a journey into the impossible made real by one of today’s best writers.

“What would you prefer, Murder or Suicide?” A challenging question uttered to Chief Deputy Kevin Kimble by Wyatt French .

“It will be very important to keep the light on after I’m gone.” Wyatt’s words for reporter Roy Darmus.

As one Sentinel closes for good another is about to become necessary in Sawyer County. There’s something happening out at Blade Ridge. The stakes are high. The past and the future stalking the present like a lion upon his prey.

Wyatt French lives on the edge of town. For years he’s been the town eccentric; living in a lighthouse in the middle of the woods, drinking by day and holing up in his abode by night. When Roy arrives at Wyatt’s to check up on him, the lights are about to go out and the narrative to begin in earnest.

Koryta pulls you into a story that will unlock a deeper part of your imagination with every page. This writer’s well known sense of place is finely honed. Blade Ridge is a little slice of Kentucky. A failed mining hub of the 19th century that has become a sleepy hollow of the 21st, Blade Ridge is pulsing with an evil that is timeless. Wyatt’s closest neighbor is a big cat rescue center. Audrey Clark and her team rescue abused cats, feed them and give them a life.
Photographs and memories aren’t all that Wyatt leaves behind. Kimble, Darmus and Clark will have to solve the puzzle of the Ridge soon. It’s a matter of life & death.
Koryta’s abilities as a writer have grown since that first book. THE RIDGE is a brilliant piece of craftsmanship that will captivate both crime fiction and horror readers. THE RIDGE is a place as real as King’s Derry, as singular as Jackson’s Haunted House and a puzzle as honed as McDermid’s A GRAVE TATTOO.
Read it & keep the light on..

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I’m in fact quite fond of the author’s entire body of work. He recently said to Alafair Burke in a q&a that he really hoped all of his readers would enjoy the novel but he knew he was writing a different kind of book. That it was important to continue to evolve as a writer. You done good Michael.

I was fortunate to be introduced to Michael Koryta at a convention in 2003. He was attending because his “first” novel, TONIGHT I SAID GOOD-BYE had won the coveted St. Martin’s/PWA First Novel contest. A wonderful mix of a PI partnership, an introduction to side characters we’d come to love and a case guaranteed to break the heart, TONIGHT I SAID GOOD-BYE also had a glimpse of the Koryta we’d see in later books. On a deserted beach three people fight for their lives. The scene is vivid, the chill from the ocean feels real and the backdrop of a deserted amusement park adds to the eeriness. The bullets fly.

So yes I’m a fan. I would declare myself to be a protective fan even. When Koryta took a year off from the Joe Pritchard/Lincoln Perry series to write his first stand-a-lone I was a little leery. ENVY THE NIGHT set my mind forever at rest. A story about fathers and their children, sins of the past catching up to the now, ENVY THE NIGHT was not only a great read, it was so structurally sound my high school English teacher would have loved this book for the symbolism and themes. she’d have found passages of “succinct character development”.

In 2009 at the Indy Bouchercon we found out that Michael was going to release his next three books in One calendar year. Write every day. Koryta is a firm believer in this mantra. Three books in one year?

SO COLD THE RIVER, winner of the LA Times Best Mystery of the Year contest last year blew me away. The story of a film maker shortchanged by temper and his chance to get back not only his career but his wife stepped into the world of the unknown. The base of the story steps into the past, to a time when the Rockefellers vacationed in West Baden and everyone drank the water. The Pluto Water. The book has had a remarkable staying power with me. Just last month when the horror of Joplin hit, I could not help but think to myself, “They needed Annie.”. If you’ve read the novel you’ll understand. If you haven’t put it on your reading list.

CYPRESS HOUSE arrived just a few months ago it seems. Set in Florida during the great depression. It is the story of a man who sees death coming, the boy he’s taken under his wing and a woman with a whole lot of trouble on her hands. As good as I believe SO COLD THE RIVER to be, CYPRESS HOUSE is probably better. The atmosphere surrounding the novel is like the low pressure front before a hurricane and you are about to be blown away. It is a book so visually exciting that I’m entirely jazzed by the news from Hollywood that Christopher Columbus and 1492 films has acquired the rights to interpret the book for the screen. Koryta has given them a storyboard as clear as any graphic novel but with atmosphere only a seasoned veteran with talent to spare could possibly manage.

It’s been quite a year for Koryta. It’s been an even better year for his readers.

Ruth Jordan