Envy the Night Hardcover – Aug 5 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Revenge drives this superb stand-alone from Edgar-finalist Koryta (A Welcome Grave). Frank Temple II, a U.S. marshal, commits suicide after a tip leads to the exposure of his secret life as a hit man. Seven years later, Frank II's 24-year-old son, Frank Temple III, learns from an old Vietnam pal of his father's that the man who ratted out Frank II, Devin Matteson, is returning to Wisconsin from Florida. Temple heads to his father's cabin in remote Willow Flowage, Wis., to confront Matteson, who first recruited Frank II into the assassination game. Temple realizes that there's more at stake than his vendetta against Matteson, as he encounters a group of ruthless killers and joins forces with Nora Stafford, the owner of an auto repair shop. Koryta's dialogue is as sharp as the knives his characters wield, and his plot twists at the most unexpected moments. This thriller places Koryta solidly in the company of the genre's most powerful voices. Author tour. (Aug.)
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“Koryta is one of the best of the best, plain and simple.”—Michael Connelly
“With Envy the Night, Koryta earns a seat at the high table of neo-noir crime writers.”—The New York Times
“A heart-pounding thriller.” —Boston Globe
“Koryta’s best work to date.” —George Pelecanos
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is not often that you can get all of those qualities in one book, but Michael Koryta again has given us a thriller with such vivid writing and complex characters that "Envy the Night" answers YES to each of those questions.
The real question is: What are you waiting for? "Envy the Night" is a first-class crime/suspense novel and has me greatly anticipating Koryta's next endeavor.
Seven years later, his twenty-four years old son, Frank III remains angry and still drifting as he has since his dad killed himself. When a friend from his dad's military days in Nam Ezra Ballard informs him the rat who squealed on his father is Devin Matteson, the son finally finds a reason to focus on life; he wants vengeance. He has the opportunity when Devin is coming from Florida to Wisconsin. The III waits at his late dad's cabin in Willow Flowage, but soon realizes he has a bigger issue to deal with; he and auto repair shop owner Nora Stafford are in deep trouble as some nasty killers stalk the area.
This tense thriller hooks readers from the moment Frank III leaves jail with a severe headache while thinking what to do about the info Ballard provided him.. Character fueled mostly by the son, ENVY THE NIGHT is a fast-paced taut tale that never misses a beat even when the exciting story line makes a turn from III the stalker to III the stalked. Michael Koryta is at his best with this action-packed Wisconsin thriller. This is an unputdownable thriller.
Frank III was trained by his father to shoot and aggressively defend himself and could react faster than the eye could see. Misinformation from an FBI agent allowed Frank III to labor under the impression that an army buddy of his father, now a Miami gangster who lured him into his evil ways, ratted him out in a deal to save himself. The two friends, along with a third army buddy, built cabins along a Wisconsin lake, and Frank III vowed to kill the Miami gangster if he ever returned to the scene.
From these beginnings comes a well-plotted thriller with dire consequences for all. Frank III, who has stayed away from the Wisconsin lake for seven years, is informed that the Miami gangster is coming to his cabin. Naturally, the youth goes there intent on murder. A chain of killings results and Frank III has to face up to his own sense of morality and justice. The conclusion is as startling as it is unanticipated. Recommended.
I liked Frank. His hit man father trained him with guns and fighting. When faced with violence, he's lightning fast and tough. It's fun that bad guys have no idea what they're up against. But Frank does not want a violent profession. He has been wandering for several years, trying different colleges. He thought about writing.
I liked the character Ezra. He came from Detroit where he was around too much violence - killing and maiming for dollars. To get away he volunteered for Vietnam, which wasn't as bad. Then he moved to northern Wisconsin and became a hunting and fishing guide. I liked his thought that "the lake and forest drained away the violence. It had healed him." I loved that Ezra was an unknown threat. Thugs had no idea what they were up against.
I liked the end of the book. The main characters survive. They are kind of lost, yet they want to stay in the area. It's as if they will be healed by staying there - kind of the way Ezra was healed. I liked the way the author described a "neediness in the eyes."
Throughout the book, I was smiling. - smiling at the joy of a good writer. There were some great action scenes. Some hit men come to the area. They attack Nora who owns an auto body shop. Frank coincidentally arrives in time to save her. More attacks and violence come later.
I liked the logic and reasons for characters put in harms way. I didn't feel the author was using stupidity except one time. Nora did something stupid which put her in danger. Frank should have insisted on something, yet emotions were involved. So I forced myself to go with it.
I laughed and chuckled several times, not because of comedy, but because I was delighted and surprised at thoughts and actions.
Examples of good lines.
1. After seeing a thug do something and watching Devin, Frank thinks "Devin is good at these things - kidnaping and murder."
2. One FBI agent tells a second agent not to come to town or he'll arrest him. As soon as they hang up, the second guy picks up his car keys.
3. After witnessing some violence, Frank was being questioned at the police station. A new guy walks in and Frank asked him where he was from. The guy said what makes you think I'm not from here. Frank said "You don't look excited."
I loved the way the author was inside various characters' heads: Jerry, Nora, Frank, Grady, Ezra. It's why third person is so great. You can feel the fear and suspense and strategies inside various characters. When they pondered, it was the right amount. It added good depth.
A couple of times I did not like the jumping around. Bad guy pulls a knife, then the scene switches to another place and characters before telling what happened with the knife. It's a typical writing device to prolong suspense. It's artificial. I did not like it. There was plenty of "natural suspense" due to thugs in the area.
The narrator Mark Boyett was excellent except for one thing. His voice for Nora was too wimpy whiny or something. Some men have trouble voicing women. It's ok not to raise your voice to a high pitch. Just use a regular voice with the emotions the woman would have. Other than that I loved his tone and the way he interpreted. Good sense of wonder.
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 11 hrs and 24 mins. Swearing language: mild, maybe only one occurrence. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day northern Wisconsin with a few back stories. Book copyright: 2008. Genre: mystery suspense thriller.
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I was disappointed with The Cypress House published three years later. Gave it 2 ½ stars. Koryta has a Lincoln Perry detective series that I might try sometime.