The Cypress House Paperback – May 12 2011
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"Gangsters, a silent but heroic drifter with second sight, and a whopper of a Florida hurricane. How can you go wrong?"―Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
"The Cypress House is a unique and entertaining blend of noir and paranormal suspense, with a tightly controlled supernatural thread as believable as the gunplay. Mr. Koryta is at the start of what will surely be a great career. He's now on my must-read list."―Dean Koontz, author of Lost Souls
"The Cypress House is a dazzling blend of suspense, the supernatural, and superb storytelling. What a gifted writer. Michael Koryta is the real deal."―Ron Rash, author of Serena
"Michael Koryta is one of our new dynamos in the world of books, and in The Cypress House he spreads his range, wedding suspense with the supernatural in the eeriness of 1930s Florida. He uses the psychology of place to penetrate the human heart and delivers his tale of hurricanes and love and hauntings with great narrative force. Koryta's becoming a wonder we'll appreciate for a long time."―Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone
"Michael Koryta has fashioned a great character in his reluctant prophet, Arlen Wagner, a good man who ends up with an awful lot of blood on his hands before the denouement of this deliciously dark tale. Koryta is a fantastic storyteller, and the many admirers of his previous novel, So Cold the River, will find similar chilly pleasures awaiting them here."―Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins
"Michael Koryta's command of story, character, and language put him in an elite group of writers at work today: Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly and Lee Child to name a few. He is one of the very best writers out there. Don't try to label him, or stick him in a genre; that would be a disservice. Just read him, and soon you'll be saying Michael Koryta is among the best there is. And even that praise falls miserably short."―Ridley Pearson, author of In Harm's Way
About the Author
Michael Koryta (pronounced ko-ree-ta) is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, most recently THE PROPHET. His last three novels, THE RIDGE, THE CYPRESS HOUSE, and SO COLD THE RIVER were all New York Times notable books and nominated for several national and international awards. In addition to winning the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, his novel ENVY THE NIGHT was selected as a Reader's Digest condensed book. Koryta's work has been translated into more than twenty languages. A former private investigator and newspaper reporter, Koryta graduated from Indiana University with a degree in criminal justice. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Bloomington, Indiana.
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Top Customer Reviews
I decided on this one from a book review I had read from the San Francisco chronicle. The reviewer had singled out this book as being a "scary good ghost story". She also indicated some of his previous books were crime/mystery novels.
Some of the acclaim for this book on the dust jacket refers to the super natural , so I didnt know what to expect.
From the first chapter you learn our main character Arlen has within him a power to see death in people before it happens. Through his prediction he ends up in a coruptly ruled town in the Gulf Coast at The Cypress House. Arlen along with his traveling partner Paul find their destiny and path change from that point on. I dont want to give away any more of the story. This is a very well written tightly unfolding story keeping you guessing and continuing to read. It is suspenseful, redemptive, and creepy at times. The characters are very well developed, and you get to understand them with background stories as you read along. The only concern for me was the story didnt specifically indicate that this novel takes place in the 1930's. Not that it changes my feeling of this book, but for me I would have liked to learn this earlier on.
This is an excellent book with good twists all throughout and a rewarding ending. Would definitely read another from this author.
Arlen and his young traveling companion, Paul Brickhill, had planned to continue on to the Florida Keys to seek work on the planned highway linking the Keys. Instead, they dis-embarked after Arlen saw a most frightful image of all the men on the train as walking skeletons. He had seen this during the war, and in every instance, that man died. He wasn't going to let himself and Paul die if he could prevent it.
This string of events eventually led to Arlen and Paul staying at the Cypress House Inn and boarding house in Corrider Country. A country where Judge Solomon Wade has a finger in every thing that happens and even further reaching ties. With the help of the local Sheriff, it isn't long before Wade has threatened Arlen and made it clear that it would be best if he minded his own business and left town.
I listened to the audio version of this book. 11 hours 51 minutes. Robert Petkoff did a wonderful job of narrating. His portrayal of the women characters was excellent, which I've found is difficult for some male readers, though Robert is probably the best I have listened to so far. There were also some unique sound effects that greatly enhanced the spookiest scenes in the book.
During first couple of chapters I will admit to feeling a bit lost. I am not familiar with this time period, approximately 1935, nor am I familiar with any area of Florida. I decided to keep listening and was slowly pulled deeper and deeper into the story.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a combination of historical fiction and suspense with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Set in the time of the Great Depression, our protagonist is a World War I survivor with a special gift - he can tell by looking at someone if they are going to die. While traveling by train to the Florida Keys with a younger friend, partway into the trip he discovers that they must exit the train or die. What unfolds from there is their journey and then the evil that surrounds Cypress House, the Gulf Coast inn where they ultimately land.
This is a story filled with interesting characters, good writing, a sense of place that brings it all alive, and not so far removed from reality that it allows the reader to image just what having this gift would be like. Once I got started reading, it was almost impossible to put down. As I said in my review of "So Cold the River", I would hate for people to ignore this latest effort since it has been classified as horror in some places. Much more full of intrigue and suspense than horror, a book that will keep you racing through the pages to find the resolution to the tangled web of lies, deception, small-town corruption and supernatural powers. Fans of Chris Boyjalian should definitely give this a try.
Bottom line: Outstanding.
(I did receive a free e-book copy furnished by The Hachette Group through NetGalley. There was no other compensation and no requirement of a positive review. I have reviewed many other "free" books and have no hesitancy to rate a book low if that is what I think it deserves.)
When the war is over and he is working his way around the country trying to scrap a living together he finds himself on a train bound for Florida. When again Arlen sees the smoke signals of death rising he jumps off the train that he finds out later was bound to collide head on with a hurricane. Thinking he and his traveling partner Paul have been saved Arlen settles in someplace he never wanted to be again - a small town with corrupt law enforcement. Through a strange set of circumstances Arlen finds himself in a backwater town in Florida repairing a hurricane ravaged tavern wishing he were anywhere but there. The police are turning up bodies that Arlen and Paul are getting blamed for and the corrupt judge is putting on a show for everyone with him as the puppet master.
Arlen knows he should leave and wants to leave but is drawn to Rebecca, the woman running this broken down place. His friend Paul thinks she can be won over but fails to realize that Arlen has already gotten the prize and Rebecca is playing hard-to-get for a reason. But Rebecca has a lot of secrets she is not sharing and the danger she dances around is making Arlen very nervous. He knows everyone has their past but believes Rebecca's past is going to end their future together.
When Arlen figures out who the players are and he knows what is really going on in this town he figures out who needs to be removed and Arlen puts a plan into action. Arlen never expected to have someone turn on him but figured out early in life that everyone is not your friend but love does linger if you grab onto it and don't let go regardless of what you have to do to keep it.
I thought Mr. Koryta's last book So Cold the River was scary but it is nothing in comparison to this book. I kept the lights on and the shades drawn for fear of what was creeping around in the night. Both Arlen and Rebecca have such complicated pasts you don't think there is enough time to explain it all but the author does and gives so much more than just character development he gives you Goosebumps. Great book and while this is a standalone every reader should pick up all other books by this author they are great.
This is a story of the great depression, the despair and the illicit means some used to survive. It is a love story in many ways as well as a crime and violence filled occult tale of how people can be trapped in situations beyond their control.
Michael Koryta is an artist. His characters have such life that it is simplicity itself to visualize them and their surroundings. I read the book while in Florida and found myself looking around for some of the scenery or characters.
The story was set in a time of depression and post war trauma. That setting resonated with today's recession and returning veterans. War changes people and Koryta captured that essence of humanity.
I also liked how he showed a love between two unrelated men that had nothing to do with gender bias or sexual preference. Sometimes the depth of friendship is love that has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality. That type of relationship seems practically taboo in contemporary fiction.
Arlen Wagner's skepticism of his own talent promoted belief in what he experience, much more than a simple presentation of that talent.
This the second of his books I have read and I will be actively seeking out the rest.
I highly recommend the book.
This was not entertaining or fun. I was not surprised or delighted. I liked the beginning, but the longer I read the more annoyed and frustrated I felt. The biggest problem was subject matter. The second problem was people keeping secrets for no good reason.
Secrets were used to create mystery and conflict. They did not make sense. Some were stupid. Several times I wanted to shake a character and say "tell them."
Arlen loves Paul like a son and does things to help and protect Paul. At the end of the book, Paul has been given a gift from an anonymous source. Arlen is the source but does not tell Paul he did it. Why keep that secret? It was the end of the book and I was ready for some happy feelings, but instead I get another secret. I was annoyed.
Many of the secrets were Rebecca not telling Arlen what was going on. Arlen also kept secrets from Paul. I liked Envy the Night by this author. In that book characters didn't tell all they knew, but it fit their motivations.
SUBJECT MATTER - METAPHOR STYLE:
Two guys are looking for work and accidentally walk into a nest of poisonous snakes. Instead of running away like sane people, they stay because of a pretty girl. The leader of the snakes tells the girl he will kill her brother if she doesn't do what he wants. The brother is tied up. She thinks as soon as he gets untied they can leave. But when he is no longer tied, he wants to stay. She doesn't tell him the snakes are poisonous. And she continues to NOT tell him. Most of the story is about snakes threatening good guys.
In contrast, in Envy the Night by Koryta, thugs come to town and have no idea that two very skilled and talented good guys will cause problems for them. That was fun because the good guys had some control. That is also what's going on with the fabulously successful Jack Reacher series (by Lee Child). Thugs have no idea what they're up against when they meet Reacher. In Cypress, the good guys have no power and suffer.
I feel helpless when I think about corruption in the world around me. I read fiction to feel good. I want to see someone with control. Books like this pull me down rather than up.
ACTUAL STORY BRIEF:
Arlen was a soldier in WWI who is now traveling with Paul looking for work during the depression. They pass through a town where the judge and sheriff are part of a drug organization. When Arlen and Paul arrive, the judge and sheriff put them in jail, beat them, and take all their money. When they get out of jail, instead of leaving they hang around.
A secondary story is Arlen's psychic gift. He sees smoke in the eyes of people who will die. His father had a psychic gift of talking to people after they died.
OPINION ABOUT THE PSYCHIC TALENTS:
The story was good in the beginning about Arlen's gift. And the ending climax scene had some of this which was very good. But the main story would have been better if it focused more on this gift - having more psychic things happening during the middle of the book.
Another annoyance: Arlen kept insisting that his father was insane which was not true. And Arlen did not believe his father had a psychic ability. Because Arlen had his own psychic gift, it did not make sense that he disbelieved his father's.
MY FAVORITE PART:
Paul was fun to watch and think about. He was a 19-year-old engineering genius. He was in control when it came to machines and structures.
The narrator Robert Petkoff was pretty good. But I have mixed feelings about his southern drawl for Arlen.
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 11 hrs and 54 mins. Swearing language: moderate but rarely used. Sexual language: none. Number of sex scenes: 3 referred to no details. Setting: 1935 mostly Florida gulf coast with a little back story. Book copyright: 2011. Genre: paranormal mystery suspense.
I really enjoyed Envy the Night by this author. Gave it 5 stars
But foreboding seems to be Arlen's cup of tea. At the outset of The Cypress House, he and Paul, along with a number of other job hungry men, are sharing a compartment on a train bound for Miami. From there they plan to travel on to the Florida keys where Roosevelt's CCC labor program promises plenty of work. But fate has other plans for them.
As they near their destination, Arlen, a World War I veteran, begins to have gruesome visions. Smoke billows from men's eye sockets, flesh evaporates from their hands revealing only bleached white bone. To Arlen, these hallucinations, which first appeared to him in Europe during the Great War, can only portend death; but not certain death, as we will later learn. At the next station, he warns the men to stay off the train, but only Paul, an eager and talented young engineer, who Arlen has seen fit to take under his wing, heeds the warning. Arlen and Paul hit the road instead, embarking on an adventure they may just regret.
Thrillers with a tinge of the paranormal seem to be a Michael Koryta's specialty. His last book, So Cold The River, which was an amazon.com pick of the month, employed a mystical liquid called Pluto Water as the catalyst for the drama. After a gulp of the enigmatic potable, the main character starts having dreamlike visions, which aid him in solving the novel's central mystery. Extreme weather also plays a part in that story as it does, although to a lesser degree, in The Cypress House.
The Cypress House succeeds wonderfully in evoking a particular time and place: Gulf coast Florida in the 1930's. You can feel the humidity, smell the decay, taste the liquor. The dialogue is pitch perfect and the characters, though some minor ones border on caricature, are well developed and make unobvious choices. Things go wrong for Arlen and Paul right off the bat, but the story is not a cookie cutter thriller. It is more reminiscent of the 1950's crime noir novels of Jim Thompson.
Koryta delivers here, as one would expect, with suspense, romance, and mystery. But by delving deeper into his character's past, he enables them to grow and change with purpose. Near the end of the book, Arlen, after re-examining his dubious roots, uncovers a painful hidden truth. Facing this pain enables him to develop his curse of portent into a transcendent power that in turn, allows him to take control of his fate. It is this discovery of purpose that frees The Cypress House from the brand of the average thriller.
~Book Jones~ 4.0 Stars