Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: 2012
Source: provided by the publisher through NetGalley
The Short Version:
High School Football, estranged brothers, a new murder that brings up haunting memories of their own sister’s long ago death all combine in a story of a crime, family relationships, faith, guilt, and vengeance.
Why I Read It:
I’ve enjoyed all of Michael Koryta’s PI series featuring Lincoln Perry and while I thought his more supernatural The Cypress House was excellent I was excited to see a new one from him that returned to more of a crime fiction story.
Years ago Kent and Adam Austin were the current and future stars of the Chambers High School Football team. Their sister’s abduction and death changed their lives and fractured their relationship. Kent is now the coach of team and possible hero once again as they appear headed to the state championship. Adam gets by as a bail bondsman and part time private investigator and has more in common with the criminals he helps and sometimes hunts than he does with his own brother.
When the girlfriend of one of Kent’s players is killed in an eerily similar crime both Kent and Adam are confronted with their past. Grief, guilt, a chance for redemption and some surprises along the way make this a study of relationships as much as it is a thriller.
While I thought Koryta’s The Cypress House was excellent I was glad to see him leave the supernatural elements out of his latest book and return to his crime fiction roots.
This is much more than a murder mystery though. The damaged relationship between the Austin brothers and the personal demons they face separately and together is woven in and out of both the present day story and the parts that are flashbacks to events of the past.
I loved the football element too. As a huge Friday Night Lights fan and someone who is counting the hours until college football season kicks off it was a perfect little taste of football in August. The Hubster read it when we were on vacation in June and his review was pretty much “Mystery: Good. Football: Good.”
Kent and Adam had each found ways to deal (or not) with the loss of their sister and how that continued to affect their lives and reactions to things. When the death of Rachel Bond forces the brothers back into contact they’re still coping with their own lingering wounds even after all these years. While Kent has become part of a prison ministry, Adam doesn’t understand and sees the chance to find and destroy Rachel’s killer as his own chance at redemption.
Koryta keeps the tension high and the emotions raw throughout the story and not just for Kent and Adam. The football team, Rachel’s mother and the community are all torn apart by a senseless act of violence. What it will take to heal the wounds and what Adam and Kent will be willing to put on the line are questions right up until the end.
More than a murder mystery, this is a story of damaged people trying to protect the ones they love while seeking both vengeance and redemption along the way.