cover image An Honest Man

An Honest Man

Michael Koryta. Mulholland, $29 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-53594-6

At the beginning of this superb thriller from Edgar winner Koryta (Those Who Wish Me Dead), recently paroled killer Israel Pike discovers seven murdered men on a yacht adrift near the small island of Salvation Point, Maine. Despite a lack of evidence, Sterling Pike, Israel’s uncle and the island’s sole police deputy, immediately blames his nephew, who was convicted of murdering his own father 15 years earlier. Sterling, who fancies himself the island’s de facto ruler, builds a case against Israel while receiving pushback from FBI agent Jenn Salazar, who’s been assigned to the investigation. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Lyman Rankin escapes the wrath of his abusive, alcoholic father and decamps to an abandoned house, where he’s confronted by a hatchet-wielding woman who’s also seeking shelter. Koryta seamlessly stitches the two stories together with white-knuckle action and strong character development: the novel’s potency comes from the parallels between Israel and Lyman, each the products of brutal homes who are determined not to repeat their fathers’ cruelty. Koryta’s atmospheric prose is a treat, too, tempering Maine’s natural beauty with hints of the island’s corruption: “The sea was calm but the air was uneasy, too warm, too still.” This is top-tier suspense. Agent: Richard S. Pine, InkWell Management. (July)