Still mourning the death of his wife, private investigator Mark Novak accepts a case that may be his undoing. On same day his wife died, the body of a teenage girl was pulled from the extensive and perilous cave system beneath Southern Indiana. Now the man who rescued the girl, who was believed to be her killer, begs Novak uncover what really happened. The only problem is in small-town Midwest, cold cases stay cold.
Garrison is much like any place in America, proud and fortified against outsiders. So Mark is forced to delve beneath the town’s secrets, and more frighteningly match wits with the man who knows the caverns better than anyone. A man who seemed to lose his mind. A man who seems to know Mark Novak all too well.
The moment I read Michael Koryta’s So Cold The River I was hooked and I’m pleased to say that has never wavered, I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fan! A brilliant and intelligent author Koryta has this ability to grab you early on and never lets go until the final page ends and the book is closed, Last Words is another strong story and left me feeling similar thoughts after I’d finished So Cold The River. I didn’t want it to end but end it must.
You can’t help but have a myriad of emotions, Claustrophobia the principal one as Novak and Ridley, the book’s main characters, crawl in the confined and energy sapping cave system, known locally as Trapdoor. There were times I found myself shuddering at the atmospheric narrative, no more so than when Novak finds himself in the tightest of gaps unable to raise or lower his head for fear of hitting the top of his helmet or scraping his chin on the floor. You have a good feeling that things will turn out ok but there’s always that nagging feeling that things might not. I imagined myself crawling in the cold and wet and it frightened me, I’m not afraid to admit that! Sensational stuff.
Just like Trapdoor the book is alive to a plethora of options and the book appears to be along for the ride as much as the reader, often it felt like a living entity. With every chapter comes a revelation and you find yourself at the point of no return, there’s no going back until you come out at the other end when things are satisfactorily explained. That said Koryta leaves the door open on a few sub plots which leads me to the conclusion that things aren’t quite over for Markus Novak and his dearly departed wife. Let’s hope not anyway.
Characterisation is as strong as ever with Ridley Barnes and Markus Novak carrying the full weight of Last Words and Trapdoor. Barnes, accused of killing a young girl in the caves a decade earlier calls on Novak’s services to prove that he either did or didn’t kill the girl. The problem is he can’t remember. The pair are at loggerheads from the beginning and you never quite know if Barnes is guility or not. Stirring stuff!
If you’re looking for a psychological thriller that promises to keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering who is responsible and for what, then look no further. If you like that small adrenalin rush when reading claustrophobic passages then you’re in luck. Last Words delivers on both accounts.
- Hardcover:448 pages
- Publisher:Little Brown and Company (18 Aug. 2015)
- ISBN-10:0316122637 ISBN-13: 978-0316122634