Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
27 Aug. 2015
Those who have read some of Michael Koryta’s previous novels such as So Cold the River, The Cypress House or The Ridge will know that here is an author who delights in talking his readers on a journey unlike that which they will have experienced before in a Thriller.
They can also rest assured that with his latest offering, Last Words, that this remains the case as what Koryta has provided is a nerve-jangling, tension packed novel rife with vigour, pace, clarity, credibility and – above all – deliciously honed characterisation that they will simply not want to finish reading.
Still mourning the death of his wife, Private Investigator Mark Novak's erratic behaviour is seeping into his work with Innocence Incorporated, the best law firm in the USA for pro-bono cases. With his future on the line, Mark is sent to investigate a seemingly dead-end case in Southern Indiana. On the very day his wife died, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the extensive and perilous cave system beneath Garrison. Now the man who brought the girl out, who is still believed by many to be her killer, begs Novak to uncover what really happened.
With a twist and turn on just about every page, Michael Koryta can rightfully claim his place at the very summit of Thriller writing, particularly as the unique nature of his stories and how he tells them are so succinct, yet so compelling, comparisons with Stephen King in his hey-day or a Dennis Lehane latterly become inevitable.
This is how good his descriptive prose are, placing us shamelessly at the heart of the action as though we are the most silent of flies to dine voraciously on what it is he provides.
In Markus Novak we have a protagonist who solidifies as he moves on, becoming less vague and more tangible as each page turns and so growing into a fully formed, troubled and intensely likeable man of integrity despite his flaws and regrets.
Small town America has never been more beautifully depicted, either, and nor has its inhabitants; a mixture of yokels and locals all coming to the fore to give their own particular accounts as to what happened, but never once becoming stereotypes.
Last Words is an exceptional novel that is so brilliantly told and so gloriously constructed, once it has been completed first time readers who have picked it up will doubtlessly be looking through Michael Koryta’s back catalogue immediately, whereas we others are simply left to eagerly anticipate his next publication.