There is one thing I have to say about Michael Koryta. He certainly knows how to grab my attention and make me think I will DIE if I don't read his books. In "So Cold the River", he conjures a ghost at the West Baden Resort in French Lick Indiana, where I have visited. In "The Cypress House", there was evil afoot in Florida during one of most famous hurricanes in history. This time around, he throws a lighthouse and wild cats my way! It's like he knows what buttons to push. As soon as this one published, I ordered it from my library.
Synopsis: In a small town in Kentucky, an eccentric builds a lighthouse serving no obvious purpose but to light up the surrounding woods. One day the eccentric places a call to the local sheriff, Kevin Kimble, and asks which he would rather deal with...a suicide or a homicide? Begrudgingly, the sheriff answers "a suicide". Soon after, the man is found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Ancient photos and a few recent ones on the dead man's wall lead to some very frightening and confusing theories on what made this man tick, and what he might have been afraid of. Kimble and an unemployed journalist, Roy Darmus, begin to dig back into the history of the area, and sense a long-festering evil too big to conquer by themselves.
At the same time, a sanctuary for abused and injured wild cats moves to a location near the lighthouse. The team of passionate employees caring for the animals are led by Audrey Clark, a widow dedicated to her late husband's mission but lacking the confidence. The cats are edgy from the moment they arrive, sensing something isn't quite right about the woods.
Supernatural meets mystery thriller in yet another solid, entertaining ride from Koryta.
My thoughts: It seems like a little bit of a cop-out to say that this story has the faint scent of Uncle Stevie, since he blurbed it (the power of suggestion?). But it is true. There is something unearthly and masculine here that feels like it has to have been inspired by the great man himself. And like Mr. King's yarns, one must suspend their belief just a tad. If you can do that, then you are going to have fun with this one (heh heh heh - my evil laugh).
The power of "The Ridge" lies in its subtle, sinister undercurrent. There is a body count, but that is not what is going to scare you. It is the deeper, quieter presence that asks questions nobody wants to contemplate.
I thought the characters were very fascinating. They all had their problems and obstacles in life, and when we meet them, they are all doing battle with their personal demons. These aren't silly superficial demons, they are nice and gritty ones. Just the way I like 'em. There is a horrible love connection that is as dysfunctional and messed up as it gets. So messed up I just had to shake my head. Important characters get thrown under the bus, you've got wild cats running amok...it is all awesome.
Speaking of the wild cats, I loved that this became a side plot. Koryta, inspired by the real-life Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point Indiana, adds a fascinating and unexpected element into his plot. Like a good author, he educates us (while scaring the crap out of us) with details of feline behavior, and the commitment required to care for them.
If I were forced to pick a favorite of Koryta's books, I think I'd choose "The Cypress House", but only by a whisker (ha), and only because the level of tension in Cypress made my heart pound. Koryta is definitely mastering his skills in the area of supernatural thrillers and I'll continue to allow him to push my buttons.
4.5 out of 5 stars