Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
Set in the Montana mountains, this is a world away from the Lincoln Perry novels that first brought Michael Koryta to my attention but also thankfully doesn’t reflect the horror novels that he has also written which, as I have mentioned before, didn’t do anything for me so basically closer in feel to his previous book “The Prophet”.
Jace Wilson is thirteen and a witness to a murder but rather than being part of a witness relocation program he is on his way to a wilderness survival camp run by Ethan Serbin and his wife Alison as nowhere should be safer than a mountainside in the Montana mountains but everyone had reckoned without the inexorable pursuit by the Blackwell brothers who he is set to testify against. The Blackwells wish him dead and are intent on cutting a swathe through anyone who gets in their way and approach their task with zeal which spells bad news for Ethan and his wife as well as the local law enforcement and fire services in the area.
They lack any sort of compunction and are quite willing to torture and kill by whatever means are necessary to move them closer to their prey and in so doing set a fire to cover their tracks which spreads out of control through the forest on the mountains. Fire isn’t easily controlled though and when they brace Ethan’s wife, Alison, while he is hiking in the mountains with a group of boys which includes Jace (under an assumed name so that not even Ethan knows which one of the group he is) they hospitalise her but at the same time are injured themselves. As Ethan heads back down the mountain to her side, Jace is forced to go solo to avoid the Blackwells but is ably assisted by a fire lookout, Hannah Faber, who is overcoming her own personal trauma which resulted in a family and a number of firefighters dying in a forest fire but if together they can overcome their fears of both the Blackwells and the fire that is spreading towards them they may just survive long enough to signal for help.
So we have adversaries that excel in killing but who are not in their natural environment which may just hand enough of an advantage to their quarry in order to give them an equal chance. This gives plenty of scope for Koryta to build toward a climax that features a surprising denouement.
Recommended. Rating 8 out of 10.