Don’t fall over because I’m posting a review today. I don’t mean to cause any cardiac problems for anyone. 😉 Today’s review for Michael Koryta’s Rise the Dark first appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Of course it also appeared there in a more timely fashion, but for those who missed it, I’m posting it here today with their permission.
First line: The snow had been falling for three days above six thousand feet, but it had been gentle and the lines stayed up.
Markus Novak, no longer investigating for the Florida-based Death Row defense firm Innocence Incorporated, is taking on the intimately personal case that has plagued him since his introduction in Michael Koryta’s Last Words–the murder of his wife, Lauren. Garland Webb, the man accused of killing Lauren, is out of prison, and Novak is determined to exact justice for both Lauren and himself. He just has to find the monster first.
Webb’s trail leads Novak back to the scene of Lauren’s death. Then it takes a sharp turn, introducing him to an honest-to-goodness Pinkerton PI and sending them both to a place Novak swore he would never return, Red Lodge, Montana. Here Novak’s past collides with his present, and he uncovers the truth behind Webb–who is just the tip of a terrifying iceberg–as well as the meaning of words left on Lauren’s notebook before she was murdered, “Rise the dark.” As Koryta raises the dark on his determined protagonist with a brilliantly sadistic villain, Novak races time to prevent a global crisis.
Koryta’s second installment in the Mark Novak series is easily appreciated on its own, but readers of Last Words and Koryta’s standalone Those Who Wish Me Dead will delight in small references to his earlier works. While some of the explanations for electrical processes deter from the thrilling action, Koryta constructs an enveloping atmosphere that artfully merges the landscape’s beauty with the plot’s terror and the darkness of his characters. This dichotomy ramps up the suspense, making Rise the Dark heart-poundingly swift and chock full of explosive excitement.
My reviews are sadly backed up, and it’s overdue to get another one posted on the new site. My review of Peter Spiegelman’s Dr. Knox first appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I’m posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.
First line: “Mia should’ve been it for the day.”
Dr. Adam Knox means well, but as the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The good doctor is laying down his stepping-stones at a rapid rate. Knox runs a medical clinic in Los Angeles near Skid Row and lives in an apartment above the clinic. Since his typical clientele isn’t exactly leaving him flush, he moonlights–with the help of his friend former Special Forces agent Ben Sutter–taking hush-hush house calls from people who can’t or won’t publically seek medical help. But these jobs are cake compared to the young boy who shows up at his clinic.
When Alex arrives at Knox’s office, he’s suffering from a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Knox and his capable staff stabilize the young patient only to discover the boy doesn’t speak English and his mother has vanished. Knowing all too well how Children’s Services works, the doctor wants to attempt to find the boy’s mother before calling them. His good intention, however, goes beyond paving a road; it is the key to unlocking the gates of Hell. And not just for himself, but also for everyone he cares about.
Dr. Knox is feverishly suspenseful. Peter Spiegelman ramps up the stakes for Knox with catch-22s and tests of his integrity. He spreads a layer of grime over Los Angeles with manipulation, corruption and filth, successfully blocking out the rays of hope and leaving his well-meaning doctor no options if he won’t play dirty himself. Dark, evocative and riveting, perdition’s never been so inviting.
Since I’m a little behind on sharing my reviews from Shelf Awareness, let’s try to catch up, shall we? The Innocents by Ace Atkins first appeared as a starred review in Shelf for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission.
First line: “Lillie Virgil stood high on a north Mississippi hill at daybreak listening to old Ruthie Holder talk about the man who’d run off with her grandson’s Kawasaki four-wheeler and her brand-new twelve-gauge Browning.”
Quinn Colson returns to Jericho, Mississippi after training an Afghani police force in the Middle East. Lillie Virgil is acting sheriff; Quinn’s father, Jason, has grand plans to turn Quinn’s farm into a dude ranch, while his girlfriend Anna Lee is moving to Memphis, and a teenager consumed by raging fire walks down the middle of the road in a desperate final effort for help. The sixth book in Ace Atkins’ series may be his darkest one yet.
Quinn thought he was finished policing in his hometown when the community voted him out as sheriff. But the gruesome homicide of former high school cheerleader Milly Jones has all of Mississippi watching the investigation, and Lillie needs as much help as she can recruit. The suspect list is long—Milly’s strip club boss she short-changed on tips, the drug dealer she refused to sleep with, her drunkard father who feels disgraced by her employment—and the flames devoured any significant forensic evidence that could identify the killer. As Quinn and Lilly dig through the ashes for answers, they find far more than they bargained for.
The marriage of Quinn’s law enforcement and complex interpersonal relationships make this series an addictive read. The Innocents shines a glaring spotlight down the darkest alleys of small-town Mississippi, but does so with the compassion of one who loves the region and wants to reveal the diamonds along with the dregs. Seasoned readers will likely predict the outcome early, but the journey there is the true joy in this gem of a crime novel.