REVIEW: Envy the Night by Michael Koryta
After three successful P.I. novels featuring Lincoln Perry, Michael Koryta has written a stand-alone thriller that is superior to them all. Koryta first arrived on the crime scene as the new kid on the block. He was 21 when he penned the outstanding TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE, which made him the youngest winner of the St. Martin’s Press annual private-eye contest. Koryta then wrote two more Lincoln Perry novels: SORROW’S ANTHEM and A WELCOME GRAVE. The last one was nominated for the 2008 Shamus Award, but neither really matched the careful plotting of the first novel. Nevertheless, ENVY THE NIGHT breaks new ground for Koryta and I hope, gives us a glimpse of what is in store for future novels.
This page-turner starts with an enigmatic phone call, which puts Frank Temple III on the road to rural Wisconsin and on a collision course with his past. When he was sixteen, he discovered that his father was a hit man. All Frank knew was that he was a good father and he died because of an associate tipped off the F.B.I. Now, after a seven-year exile, that man is traveling back to the Wisconsin, and Frank vowed that he would never let that happen. However, Frank’s plans of retribution are put on hold after a car accident unwittingly involves Nora Stafford, the young owner of a body shop. Headed in the same direction as Frank, two hit men from Miami decide that she knows too much.
Koryta artfully explores a legacy of violence and whether Frank can resist being turned “into a gun.” Packed with action and sharp dialogue, ENVY THE NIGHT is thrilling ride. At every turn, Koryta keeps the story moving with unexpected twists. Mesmerized by the outstanding characterization of Frank and Nora and the tense action sequences, I read ENVY THE NIGHT in just two days. This story is a real winner.