In the seven years since he learned that his U.S. marshal father led a double life as a contract killer – and committed suicide to avoid prosecution – Frank Temple III has mostly drifted through life. But when he learns that Devin Matteson, the man who lured his father into the killing game only to later give him up to the FBI, is returning to the isolated Wisconsin lake that was once sacred ground for their families, it’s a homecoming Frank can’t allow. Frank finds Matteson’s old cabin occupied by a strange, beautiful woman and a nervous man with a gun. But with a pair of assassins arrives on the heels, he knows Matteson can’t be far behind. The wise move would be to get out of town – but that doesn’t feel right. After all, contract killer or not, Frank’s father was at heart a teacher. And his son was an excellent student.
Written and published in 2009 Envy the Night hits all the right spots and once again Michael Koryta just happens to nail his imagery to the flag post. So much so, I could close my eyes at any point in the book and imagine sitting at the lakeside, minding my own business and with drink in hand listening to the cold winter breeze passing by.
Koryta has a way with words and effortlessly pulls the reader in to the story from the opening chapters until its climactic dénouement. The story itself is quite insular in so much as everything happens in one town and two locations but it’s the lake that comes out the winner here with a combination of dangerous sandbanks, high tides and diverse wildlife all of which combining to keep the imagination flowing throughout.
The book concentrates Frank Temple’s story, an intriguing fellow, the majority of the story is told through his eyes. Frank Temple III has baggage, a lot of it, mostly due to his father’s past murderous indiscretions – I use the term loosely – a killer for hire. His father, once a trusted and well respected U.S. Marshall, abused his position in law enforcement and Frank has suffered ever since, unfairly tarnished with the same brush. Franks has a lot to live up to and some very strong shoes to fill.
Drawn to the secluded Wisconsin lake things start to go awry for Frank when he runs into the back of a Lexus at the same time marking his arrival in town. Although he admits liability the other driver will hear none of it and offers to pay for the damages in cash as long as the police aren’t called. Things rapidly go downhill from that moment on. Unable and unwilling to turn a blind eye Frank and his long time friend Ezra fight to escape a town suddenly filled with dangerous strangers and a whole host of guns.
Envy the Night is a tight read, one of those books you can pick up and read in a couple of sittings. It flows well and one chapter leads into another and with great characterisation, a decent plot and a believable protagonist this is an enjoyable and well thought out thriller. It keeps you guessing, as all good thrillers do. Highly recommended.
Envy the Night has also been reviewed at The Mystery Bookshelf