The Ridge by Michael Koryta

What do you get when you mix an isolated Kentucky road with a creepy lighthouse, a rambling old drunk, a troubled police officer, and a retreat for big cats? Well, one thing you get is Michael Koryta hitting his stride with The Ridge, his latest and maybe greatest thrilling supernatural mystery.

Roy Darmus is at the end of his career at a small newspaper when a menacing phone call and later tragedy involving the town’s drunk, Wyatt French, sets him on the trail of a story that he can’t resist. Especially when he finds that it involves the years ago death of both his parents. French also tasks  Chef Deputy Kevin Kimball, a man carrying around personal and professional baggage of his own, with getting to the bottom of a voluntary act prompted by circumstances that offered no other choice. Complicating matters is French’s antagonistic involvement with Audrey Clarke the owner of a cat sanctuary which has just relocated to the edge of French’s property. There is something about the land and the lighthouse that puts just about everyone on edge.

Readers who enjoy mysteries and the supernatural, are in for a treat with the The Ridge, and though I usually balk at most books topping 400 pages, I highly recommend reading it. Koryta’s previous novel, The Cypress House, holds an irrational lock on my heart, but this novel unfolds beautifully, carefully building  the creepy suspense throughout. I scanned the room quite a bit while reading! There is a little bit of everything in the story of  two men searching – one for what happened to his parents so long ago, and the other for the missing piece of the puzzle when his life was drastically altered. There is love and obsession here. Koryta’s storytelling is natural and effortless and he has a knack for writing troubled characters whose rough charm and difficult circumstances unfailingly steal your heart.

In The Ridge, beautiful landscape, lions, cougars and a mystical black panther compete with the people for their place in the story and for the reader’s sympathies. In the end, no one is forgotten when this haunting novel comes to its moving and inevitable conclusion.

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