Review: The Prophet by Michael Koryta
I’ve been a bit lax lately about posting reviews but I had to share this one. I read and loved Michael Koryta’s Lincoln Perry series but was distinctly underwhelmed by So Cold The River so much so that I skipped The Ridge and The Cypress House entirely so I guess his change in direction wasn’t for me. It was with mixed emotions therefore that I approached The Prophet but boy this one gripped me from the very beginning. Thank goodness he has returned to the crime genre! This is a book that will have you wishing for more minutes in the day just so you can keep reading and deserves to vault straight to the top of the best seller lists.
Writing the first chapter from the unidentified killer’s viewpoint has a way of drawing you into the story immediately with the second chapter bringing in Adam Austin, former high school football star turned bail bondsman and sometime PI. He’s also brother to current Chambers Cardinals coach Kent Austin but they’ve been estranged over the death of their sister for many years. When Adam tracks down an address for the girlfriend of one of the stars of the town’s current undefeated team, it seems easier to just hand over the address and get back to tracking down some of those guys he’s bailed out and that have failed to show up for court. And it is easier …. until she shows up dead. Koryta manages to convey a real sense of threat when Adam swears to her mother that he will find and kill the man who did this.
If you’re a fan of high school football of the American kind you will probably appreciate some of the names and action better than I can but I could relate to the tribal sense of belonging that sports can engender. With his star receiver distraught, the chances of Coach Kent finally winning the championship seem to be receding rapidly. The potential for reconciliation between the estranged brothers is outlined quite clearly in the context of their different characters and what they would bring to the coaching team if they could just get past their own relationship difficulties which lay in Adam’s inability to forgive himself for driving off when he was 17 and leaving his sister to walk home but she never reached her destination. He has never been able to forgive the man who killed her either nor his brother for meeting him and praying for him in prison while he laughed at the brother of his victim. Two brothers with completely different outlooks illustrated in the positions they played – one a blocking full back / linebacker and the other a quarterback.
As Kent is taunted by the killer and his family threatened, he turns to his big brother for help but subconsciously sets Adam on the trail. So while the brothers are slowly reconciling to Adam’s role as protector to Kent and his family, he sets out to fulfil his promise to Rachel Bond’s mother to kill the man responsible…but more people will die and some of them may be innocent.
I was enthralled throughout – the only thing that could have improved it is giving a walk-on part to Lincoln Perry. Just released in the USA and out next month in the UK. My rating is 10 out of 10 but don’t take just my word for it. Check out what Michael Connelly had to say about it below or this review over at my bookish ways.
“One book that really popped for me was Michael Koryta’s new novel THE PROPHET. Koryta seems to be one of the young writers everybody’s watching. He wrote some early private eye stuff that I really liked. He then flexed his muscles and took a few swings at some horror-tinged stuff. I liked his ghost stories but between you and me I was waiting for him to come back to crime. He has done that with THE PROPHET but in a big way with a big story about brothers that sprawls across a couple decades. This is a pitch over the plate to me. I call them time travel stories. Not because there is any sci-fi here, but because they are stories about how the past informs the present, how it reaches right across time and grabs someone by the collar. Koryta has done it here and I count this as his best book yet.” Michael Connelly
Synopsis: Adam Austin hasn’t spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town’s criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them. Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent’s team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share of hardships. Just before playoffs begin, the town and the team are thrown into shock when horrifically, impossibly, another teenage girl is found murdered. When details emerge that connect the crime to the Austin brothers, the two are forced to unite to stop a killer-and to confront their buried rage and grief before history repeats itself again.