Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: THE SILENT HOUR by Michael Koryta

THE SILENT HOUR by Michael Koryta (Allen & Unwin, 2009)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Whisper Ridge, a multimillion-dollar architectural project that was to host a unique program for paroled murderers, was the passion of Alexandra Sanabria, the daughter of a deceased Mafia don. But the program never got off the ground. The abandoned home now remains as a strange monument to dangerous secrets, kept off the market with taxes paid by a legal trust that Sanabria established just before she and her husband left town. 

While the couple's abrupt exit was unique, it was also not regarded as criminal--until the bones of Alexandra's husband were found more than a decade later. Private Investigator Lincoln Perry isn't thrilled about the situation--or his client. Parker Harrison served fifteen years for murder, but he claims Alexandra's intervention saved his life, and now he wants to find her. It is a task that will challenge both Perry's abilities as a detective and his commitment to that calling. 

Young wunderkind crime writer Michael Koryta won the PI Writers of America Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his debut Tonight I Said Goodbye. That acclaimed novel, which Koryta wrote when he was only 20, introduced Cleveland-based private investigator Lincoln Perry to the genre. Now, four books later, Koryta (who is also an award-winning journalist and part-time private eye himself) has moved from rising star to establishing a solid position amongst the upper echelon of crime writers.

In The Silent Hour Perry is asked by convicted murderer and former parolee Parker Harrison to investigate the 12-year old disappearance of Alexandria Sanabria, the founder of a unique residential program for released killers. A woman whose brother is a suspected underworld kingpin, and whose husband’s skeletal remains, Perry quickly discovers to his dismay, have recently been unearthed. Perry finds himself scratching at the scab of a sordid family mystery, intertwined with decades-old threats and past and present police and FBI investigations, and unwittingly following a trail that leads to more deaths.

Koryta weaves a nicely-paced and engrossing tale with some unexpected twists, but like the very best in the genre, his storytelling is much more than just page-turning plotlines. Perry is an intriguing and complex protagonist, whose struggles with not only this investigation, but also his commitment to even being in a job that has brought danger to his few loved ones, give him a humanity that will resonate with many readers. The supporting cast is full of interesting and reasonably well-rounded characters; authentic and distinct personalities, perspectives and voices.

Koryta makes you want to turn the page, for the characters and the story, and when you get to the end, you want to go out and immediately find another of his books.

This review was originally published in print and online in the Nelson Mail newspaper in mid 2009. Due to archiving, the review is now no longer on the Nelson Mail website, so has been republished online here. 

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