Last Words by Michael Koryta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Haunted by his wife's death and his last words to her, Mark Novak heads north from Florida to Indiana, to meet a eccentric recluse who either retrieved a girl's body or was the one who murdered her. Can Novak solve the mystery of Ridley Barnes with his sanity intact?
The Prophet was one of the best books I read in 2015 so I was eager to give Michael Koryta another shot. I found this one on the cheap.
First off, I have to say this is a hard one to pin down. Michael Koryta's writing chops are intact and his characters are well-drawn. However, the plot is a kind of a mess.
The setup seemed fishy. Ridley Barnes wants Mark Novak to help him figure out if he killed Sarah Martin or not. Barnes was never wound quite right to begin with and threw a sprocket or two in the darkness searching for Sarah. Furthermore, when you throw in a hypnotist and a bunch of unlikely events, eyes were rolling and I kept eyeing up the Big Nowhere in the on deck circle.
However, the book wasn't a complete shit sandwich. As I said, Koryta's writing is still pretty spectacular. He does a great job with the characters, like actors in a project they know is crap but still give it their all. Also, I've never had a problem with claustrophobia but this book made me feel claustrophobic as hell at times. Spelunking is a big part of the story and Koryta does a phenomenal job with it. I felt like I was in the dark and cold with the rest of the characters.
Last Words is a well-written thriller with wonky plot. Michael Koryta's writing overcomes some of the faults but ultimately isn't enough to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers. Like I said, it's a hard one to rate. I'm giving it a three because of Koryta's writing ability. It would probably be a two with anyone else at the helm.
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