Audiobook Review: The Prophet by Michael Koryta

6 08 2012

The Prophet by Michael Koryta

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 49 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Prophet is a crime novel with literary flair. It is a tale of redemption and relationships which can uplift your spirit while devastating your soul. Koryta continues to prove that no matter what genre he is tackling, he is one of the best storytellers working today.

Grade: A

I am a fan of the sport of football, at least its American version. Almost every Sunday in the fall, I find my self a comfortable spot, and grab a cold beer as I watch my favorite professional Football team making their way through a grueling schedule to eventually not win The Super Bowl. I live in a city whose fans don’t have the greatest reputation, unless you enjoy the snowball throwing, Santa booing, visiting fan taunting, injury cheering reputation the national media likes to give us denizens of the City of Brotherly love. Yet, beyond watching the games, some rowdy sports conversation, and occasionally taking part in Fantasy Football, I am not obsessed with the sport. My town doesn’t shut down before each high school football game. I have no idea the names of the local high school, or even college football coaches. The last time I actually went to a Football game, was my senior year in High School when my Harry S Truman Tigers continued their winless streak by giving up a last minute Kickoff return for a touchdown. Yet, I have watched shows like Friday Night Lights, and read books like The Prophet and get amazed by how important this game is to people. I used to believe that the obsessive nature of football fanaticism was overblown by such portrayals, but I’ve been assured by people in the know, that it isn’t. Yet, I have to say, reading The Prophet and watching Friday Night Lights made me wish I gave a crap about my local High School Football Team. Pennsylvania isn’t an easy place to be a football fan right now, with Michael Vick heading the Eagles, and Penn State’s earned disgrace. Yet, I’m sure, there are plenty of kids still playing this sport for the love of the game.

After a series of excellent novels with a Paranormal tilt, Michael Koryta returns to the Crime Thriller genre that he made his name in with his excellent Lincoln Perry series. In The Prophet, a small Ohio town is rocked by a murder of a 17 year old girl. For two brothers Adam, a local bail bandsman and skip trace, and Kent, the celebrated High School Football Coach, the murder is personal. Not only had they both interacted with the girl right before her death, but years ago their own sister was abducted and murdered. I have to admit, describing the plot of The Prophet doesn’t do it justice. Koryta doesn’t break a lot of new ground, and brings lots of recognizable images to his tale. A sadistic taunting killer. A broken man seeking redemption. A family terrorized by the evil. It’s all been done before. Yet, Koryta brings such depth and emotion to the tale, it hard to think of it being done better than this. Koryta has created two brilliant characters in Kent and Adam Austin. Throughout this tale I hated and loved them, sympathized and judged them, yet by the end, I was totally engaged with their struggles. The underlining mystery of the tale was well plotted, yet it was almost secondary to the personal journeys of the main characters. Then there was the football. The football segments of this novel where as well executed as Friday Night Lights without all the bratty teenage angst. As Koryta uses the hunt for the killer as the barometer for Adam’s soul, he likewise uses the playoff journey of Kent’s team as glimpse into this more guarded man’s inner struggles. To bring it all together, Koryta pulls off an ending that is both devastating, yet full of hope. It’s truly an example of a master storyteller at the top of his game. The Prophet is a crime novel with literary flair. It is a tale of redemption and relationships which can uplift your spirit while devastating your soul. Koryta continues to prove that no matter what genre he is tackling, he is one of the best storytellers working today.

Robert Petkoff is a master at bringing just the right mood to the novel he is reading. There isn’t much need for vocal gymnastics, or a multitude of unique character voices in The Prophet but what is needed is an understanding of the characters and Petkoff definitely has this. Petkoff pulled me into this world, and never let me leave. His reading just felt organic, never distracting me from the tale. There is a simplicity to this production that totally fits the tale. Hachette productions will sometimes use music or other effects to help set the tone for a production, but they knew this was unnecessary for this tale. They recognized that Michael Koryta is a storyteller, and all they needed was someone to tell his tale. This is what Petkoff does. The Prophet is another winner for the team of Koryta, Petkoff and Hachette Audio.

Note: A special thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review. The Prophet is available in Print, Digital, and Audio versions Tuesday, August 7th.





Audiobook Review: The Ridge by Michael Koryta

6 06 2011

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

Genre: Supernatural Suspense

Quick Thoughts: This haunting tale of supernatural unease again proves Michael Koryta is a master of the genre. Robert Petkoff is again the perfect voice to tell this tale.

Grade: A

There is a danger with liking an author’s work too much. The danger of high expectations. The danger that an author will never be able to reach or exceed their previous works. When a book stick in you head, lingers there, often times distracting your thoughts from other books, it’s an experience that is hard to replicate. I remember the feeling I had with Michael Koryta’s So Cold the River. Upon finishing it, this haunting feeling settled over me, that I wasn’t able to shake for a while. This is what a good suspense novel should do, leave you with that taste, like a fine wine, that gives flavor to everything else you eat for a while to come. Few books have done that to me, yet when it does happen, you get this anticipation growing inside you for that next experience, that next taste. Perhaps it’s asking too much of an author. When I listened to his follow up, The Cypress House, Koryta reminded me again of that first taste of his suspense novel. The eerie afterglow of that, while maybe not as long lasting as So Cold the River, still persisted, the haunting images of the skulls with the burning eyes still hanging over my head.

So, I both anticipated and feared the next supernatural suspense tale by Michael Koryta called The Ridge. Again Kortya started us off with an eerie image, yet this one less a matter of supernatural unease, but the disconcerting image of something that doesn’t quite belong. The image of a Lighthouse deep in the Kentucky hills, far away from any significant body of water, standing watch over a Trestle in Blade Ridge. An area where far too many people had accidents, a quite a few have dies. With this image Koryta delivers another haunting ghost story, steep with hidden secrets and flawed characters. Central to this story is the opening of a large cat reserve, inside the borders of Blade Ridge, under the light of the mysterious Lighthouse. Koryta creates a compelling group of characters, who are brought together upon the death of the Lighthouse’s eccentric owner, who left behind clues to the strange happenings of Blade Ridge. Koryta’s haunting tale is full of shocking twists, that even the most jaded mystery reader will be surprised by, and devastating tragedy. Yet, most satisfying is that once again, that haunting taste is still lingering inside me, hours after I finished listening.

Again, Robert Petkoff brought his smooth subtle narrative style to one of Koryta’s supernatural suspense works. Petkoff seems to only get better with each reading, finding the right voice to deliver this tale. While I was greatly pleased with his work, the added sound effects that work well, in my opinion, in So Cold the River didn’t do much to enhance the audiobook version this time around. The strange reverb effect used during certain supernatural scenes bordered a bit on the annoying. At times, they added a creepy element to the reading, but not so much more than the natural talents of the narrator would have. Yet, this complaint is a minor issue to the overall feel of the audiobook. The combination of Kortya and Petkoff continues to impress, and I await the next Kortya offering with probably too high of expectations.

 

Note: I would like to thank the wonderful people at Hachette Audio for providing me with a Pre Release Review Copy of The Rdge. The Ridge is due to be released on June 8th, 2011. For information on where to buy this book, click on this link.





Upcoming 2011Titles I Can’t Wait to Get my Ears On

25 05 2011

I’m about a day late for this, but I thought I would point out some 2011 titles that I am look forward to.

 

First off, one title I really have been wanting to listen to is The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry. I have been on the waiting list at my library for a while.

 

The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

Read by Ray Porter

Blackstone Audio

 

Blackstone also has a short story collection by Jonathan Maberry based on his Joe Ledger novels, and audio versions of his Pine Deep Trilogy being released in 2011, that I am quite excited about.

 

 

Now, some upcoming audiobooks I’m excited about.

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

 

2030: A Novel by Albert Brooks

Read by Dick Hill

Tantor Audio

Ghost Story: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Read by James Marsters

Blackstone Audio/Penguin Audio

 

 

The Dead City Trilogy by Joe McKinney

Book 1 Dead City Read by Michael Kramer

Book 2 and Boo 3 Read by Todd McClaren

Tantor Audio

 

Flashback by Dan Simmons

Read by Richard Davidson, Bryan Kennedy, and Joe Barrett

Hachette Audio





Audiobook Review: The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

10 02 2011

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

Genre: Supernatural Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The team of Michael Koryta and Robert Petkoff once again offers us a truly special listening experience.

Grade: A

I only recently discovered Michael Koryta. I was looking for a few new mystery series to get into, when Koryta’s Lincoln Perry series was recommended to me. So, I gave them a try, and really enjoyed them. Yet, doing some more research into the writer I noticed he was now focusing on stand alone novels. Not only did he moved away from series writing, but also flipped genres moving from mysteries to supernatural thriller. Given that, I checked out his novel, So Cold the River and was so blown away by it, it made my Top 20 audiobooks of 2010, sitting nicely at number 4, and easily became my favorite novel of all time about mineral water.

Yet, I was a little skeptical when I began The Cypress House. Could Koryta again deliver a creepy, moody masterpiece on par with So Cold the River? As I began the audiobook, I became a little concerned, not with the storytelling, although sometimes a Depression Era setting can be, well, depressing, but, at the first moment of “super naturalness” we were hit with a creepy sound effect. Well, sound effects worked pretty well in So Cold the River, but I have also seen it turn audiobooks into corny radio dramas with screeching tires and gunshots. Luckily, this sound effect was pretty creepy, and fit well with the story. After that, Koryta totally sucked me into his world. I was totally enthralled by his flawed realistic characters, who both frustrated and excited me throughout the novel. The Supernatural elements were a key part of the novel, but never hijacked it. Koryta creates a path full of twists and turns, yet never loses control, building tension bit by bit until the well plotted, brilliant finale.

Robert Petkoff, who was so right for So Cold the River, is again superb in his handling of this novel. Petkoff has one of the best pure voices in the business, and handles the story with such appropriate restraint that it truly comes to life. His characters are read simply and believably, without overacting or vocal gymnastics. This is one of those audiobook experiences that allows you to just close your eyes and become totally immersed into it. Just don’t try it when you’re driving.





Audiobook Review: A Welcome Grave by Michael Koryta

26 01 2011

A Welcome Grave (Lincoln Perry Book 3) by Michael Koryta

Read by Scott Brick

Blackstone Audio

It’s hard to write a truly original mystery novel in this age. With the vast number of mysteries out there, even what you think is a truly original plot has probably been done multiple times. A Welcome Grave, the third novel by Michael Koryta featuring Private Investigator Lincoln Perry, is chock full of oft used mystery plots and subplots. Lincoln Perry is a disgraced former Cleveland police offer, who turns PI. He’s not well likes by the law enforcement community.  He get’s sucked into a crazy situation by an ex-fiancé, leading the cops to suspect him of multiple crimes.  Lincoln must find a way to clear himself before the cops lock him up. Not too original, right.

Yet, this is what Koryta excels at. Taking time traveled tropes of the genre, and slicing and dicing them up. With a flick of his wrist, the path that you think you are traveling down gets yanked out from under your feet leaving you disoriented. Koryta offers a terrific mystery here, with twists you expect turning into turns you never see coming. Lincoln Perry is not your typical “broken former cop” although on the surface that is what he seems to be. Yet, dig down deeper and you have more complexity and emotion coming from this character than you original expected.

Scott Brick is a professional narrator, and pretty much hits the right buttons.  There is enough dialogue here for Brick to work with, without becoming either stagnated or overwhelmed. Brick picks out the right rhythm for the character. Sometimes Brick’s cadence can become distracting, but the book has enough change of pace not allow Brick to get too comfortable or complacent.

 

Grade: B+