• Historical Fiction
  • General Fiction and Women Writers
  • YA Fiction
  • Suspense and Thrillers
  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Friday, April 8, 2011

"The Cypress House," by Michael Koryta ~ Amps Up the Suspense!

"The Cypress House" is one of the first novels I'm not sure I will do justice to in a review.  It is a book so rich in good writing and suspense that it demands reading to really get a complete sense of its excellence.  Michael Koryta is at the top of authors in this genre today.

I am simply exhausted.  "The Cypress House" is not a book that allows you to go calmly about your daily business once you've opened it and read the first two paragraphs.  I've been fitting it into my schedule, bit by bit, for the last three days, and wishing I could have read it in one sitting.  Completely addictive novel...hands down.

Rumors about Michael Koryta's being "one of the best of the best" suspense writers, a quote from Michael Connelly (author of "The Poet," -- a personal favorite), are almost damning him with faint praise. Koryta is in a league of his own, seriously.

He is an artist.  His masterful hand, creating time and place, draws one into step with his characters moment by moment, relentlessly.  Koryta's descriptions are his paintbrush coloring in the reality and truth of things, laying in the minute details.  As he mentions the creaky shutters slamming in the wind 'just like the screen door at his old home'...or something squeaking 'like the swing on the porch' of his father's house, I know exactly what the sound is and where its origin lies.  As a Southerner, I see that picture in my head, and I'm there with his characters...visually, in my hearing and viserally.
This is only one example of many.

I was drawn into the hearts and minds of Koryta's characters, whether good or evil, and could understand the motives of each.  What admirable people the "good guys" are; so worthy of respect and teachers of morals and virtue, 'though not perfect...just a bit grimy with human foibles.

Arlen, a pivitol character, and Paul, who are bonded in a sort of father/son relationship, are characters with depth of sensibility, personality and symbolism.  Their love interest, the central character, Rebecca, is a young woman caught up in personal struggles and circumstances that ask of her self-sufficiency and criminal wiles not common for women her age.
The reader becomes as entangled in the anxieties and complexities of the characters' problems as they do, even as they seem insurmountable. It is this common bonding under duress that Mr. Koryta so deftly channels, bringing us into the situation without our knowing it--as surely as an impending storm will falls on us,  until we've become caught up in the horror and magnitude of the danger, ourselves.  We become  invisible accomplices with our characters, so that when all is done, our own hearts and minds are as striped to the bare bone as theirs. We are as exhausted as they are. Their triumphs are ours; and their losses, our losses.

Along with his "film noir" story setting in the storm tossed, hurricane season of Florida's Gulf Coast, Michael Koryta also throws us the tangy bit of extra-sensory perception. Arlen has the paranormal gift of seeing the impending, possible death of others.  This gift lends another dimension to an already stirling suspense novel.  Mr. Koryta has us totally amped-up for the ride...

His expertise as a writer is refreshing, and far from the stacatto clacking that so many new authors employ in suspense.  His use of vocabulary and dialog works to build his characters and their place in the story to just the right pitch.  Additionally, I learned a great deal about the veteran's work program, the depression era mind-set of post WWI, and political corruption that nearly makes 2011 look bad.  I also learned a bit about a soldier's post-traumatic stress syndrome, and its pros and cons.  The account of Arlen's soldiering days, though horrific, gave substance and foundation to the novel.  There is so much "meat" in Koryta's writing.

He magically employs the technique of anthropomorphic, natural setting to build suspense and an over-hanging doom. A house made of cypress...the wood of coffins, nearly indestructible, and carrying a foreshadowing, for instance.  The darkness of weather patterns and the damage they reek, as well as the frightening unknowns of the swamp, provide an additional picture of looming danger and the unknown factor of an "act of God," which could turn any plan upside down. Because Koryta employs these powerful techniques, we are always set on edge and waiting for the proverbial "next shoe to drop."  It's excruciatingly tantalizing, setting an oppressive mood over our reading.

"The Cypress House" is a powerful and masterfully written murder/suspense novel. Readers of this genre will, from now on, place Michael Koryta's books among those that they purchase simply on the basis that he wrote them. His first editions will become collectible because he is our next "The Postman Always Rings Twice," James Cain-like, suspense author...only, like Cain, he's blazing his own new trail. 

His other books include:  "So Cold The River,"  a recent release and,  "Envy The Night," for which he won The LA Times Book Prize for best mystery thriller

Visit his website at:     www.MichaelKoryta.com

*If you're a Michael Koryta fan, I'd love to know about it in comments!



Share your thoughts!

Blogaholic Designs”=