Status: Bookseller Picks
I am not always a fan of mystery or private investigator stories, and I tend more toward fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural but Michael Koryta is speaking at my departmental graduation ceremony in two weeks so I decided to check out his books. First of all, I was thinking local, 21-year-old author... okay... I guess I could find some time to at least skim over something. I WAS SO WRONG! Less than a chapter into Tonight I Said Goodbye, I had to stop to buy the book (which I NEVER do) and couldn't put it down until I finished, despite finals and papers with rapidly approaching due dates. The next day I went and got the next book in the series. Not only did I want to read more by the same author, but I could not bring myself to say goodbye - tonight or any other time - to Lincoln Perry (the main character). Rare is the author who can develop a character SO WELL that I feel like we're old friends and I had to find out what would happen to him next!
So Tonight I Said Goodbye starts out with the plot and character development in the first paragraph and just gets better from there. I never do this but I find I cannot convey why I wasn't able to stop reading any way but to show you the first paragraph:
"The last time John Weston saw his son alive, it was a frigid afternoon in the first week of March, and John's granddaughter was building a snowman as the two men stood in the driveway and talked. Before he left, John gave his son a fatherly pat on the shoulder and promised to see him again soon. He saw him soon - stretched out in a morgue less than forty-eight hours later, dead of a small-caliber gunshot wound to the head. John was saved the horror of viewing his granddaughter in a similar state, but the reason for that was a hollow consolation: Five-year-old Betsy Weston and her mother were missing."
Within the next few pages, Lincoln Perry - former cop and new private investigator - gets hired to find out what happened. What seems like it will follow a predictable PI novel pattern soon takes off completely away from the typical template of the genre into more twists and turns than I could have imagined! Koryta does an amazing job with developing characters so that you feel like you not only know ABOUT them, but you KNOW them. The plot, while totally intense, fast-paced, and unpredictable, is also somehow completely believable.
And before you believe that I am just praising a local author... of Tonight I Said Goodbye, Lee Child said: "A terrific, first-class debut full of suspense, tension, tricks, and charm," the Library Journal claims, "The twenty-one-year-old author excels at building characters and story..." and Steve Hamilton (author of Ice Run) says, "Michael Koryta hits the ground running with this masterful debut. He's already so good, it's scary." I don't have enough room to keep on this tack but there's plenty more!
While I have my own favorite genres, I am ALWAYS willing to read something that is incredibly well-written no matter what it is about. This is one of those books. I don't care if you don't like PI novels or mystery or thrillers: it's completely and totally worth it to drop whatever you're in the middle of and read this! As much as I'd love to extol the book and the author for a few pages more, I have to get back to the next book...
In the Lincoln Perry series, the books are Sorrow's Anthem (Lincoln Perry Series #2), A Welcome Grave (Lincoln Perry Series #3), and The Silent Hour (Lincoln Perry Series #4). Koryta has also written stand-alone novels Envy the Night and So Cold the River, coming out June 9, 2010.
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