I recently discovered Michael Koryta, a new mystery writer that I like very much. Even though he has already written eight novels, he’s only recently turned 29 (disgusting, huh?), so in the grand scheme of things he is still very much one of the “new wave” of mystery novelists this past decade.
Although he may be young, Koryta’s writing has the verve and polish of a seasoned veteran. This guy’s books are top-notch stuff and both readers and writers are starting to take notice. Fellow mystery author Ridley Pearson raved that Koryta’s “command of story, character, and language put him in an elite group of writers at work today: Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly and Lee Child to name a few.” And that’s no small praise!
The first book I read by Koryta was Envy the Night. It had a rave blurb on the cover by Michael Connelly, but that alone wasn’t what made me try it. Although I like Connelly’s novels very much, I’ve been disappointed more than a few times by books that he has recommended, so his endorsement almost made me wary of trying the Koryta title. But one of the cool customers at my shop, Lauren, gave Koryta’s books the thumbs up, so I figured it was a safe gamble. It turned out to be that and more. Envy the Night was so good, that shortly after finishing that book, I started on another Koryta novel, The Cypress House. Unlike Envy the Night, which was set in a modern day town in the American Midwest, The Cypress House takes place during the 1930s in Florida. There is also an unusual “supernatural” thread woven into the story. I’m usually no fan of ghostly of paranormal tales, but Koryta manages to work this element into the guise of a gripping crime fiction tale and make it all very plausible. As Pearson noted in his review, Koryta’s writing is strong in many areas; vibrant characters, fluid dialogue, ace storytelling, and a gift for language. This guy is the real deal.
Koryta is also a big music listener, revealing in the afterward of The Cypress House that music is a “tremendous inspiration” to him when he writes. Following the Reading Group Guide at the end of The Cypress House, he offers a “playlist” of music that he says “never left the rotation during the writing” of that book. That list includes music from Bright Eyes, the Derek Trucks Band, Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers, Ryan Bingham, Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams, and some soundtrack music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Good music inspires good writing!
I just picked up The Silent Hour, one of the books in Koryta’s Lincoln Perry private investigator series. I’m very much looking forward to reading another book by Koryta, but I’m torn as to whether I should read it right away or save it for airplane reading.