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The Prophet Hardcover – August 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dean Koontz interviews Michael Koryta

DEAN: Your new novel, THE PROPHET, is a crime novel, a suspense novel, but also a good novel about brothers and family relationships. I know you a little, and I'm 99% sure that you weren't cloned, that you have a family, but I don't know about siblings. You write so well about brotherly relationships that I wonder--do you have any? And football--playing it, coaching it--serves both as a background and as a solid metaphor for the value of traditions. Did you play football in school? Have you coached any?

MICHAEL: I was a natural athlete. Played every sport, and the responses from my coaches were unanimous and emphatic. Whether it was a basketball or football or baseball bat or golf club in my hands, they’d say, “Son, I think you should be a writer.” It’s good to have consensus. So, no, never played football beyond pick-up games, I bruise too easily and lack fundamental coordination, but I was hopefully able to bring some authenticity to the book due to the tremendous level of help and access I received from Scott Bless, Tyler Abel, and the rest of the Bloomington High School North coaching staff. I spent a full year with them in coaching meetings, practice fields, and on the sidelines, and it was tremendous and fascinating. The bad news for them is I’m hooked now and currently drawing up plays. If they’ll just give me a chance… As for brothers, I have none. Just friends who feel like brothers to me, in the good ways and the infuriating. And I have a sister who brings only the positive side.

DEAN: You quickly built a reputation for crime/suspense, and then went for a touch of the supernatural in SO COLD THE RIVER, THE CYPRESS HOUSE, and THE RIDGE. Did your agent freak out? Many years ago, when I first began ricocheting from genre to genre, I received more than a few heartfelt lectures about how I was destroying my career. Now THE PROPHET has no supernatural edge. What is it with you, pal? Easily bored? Creatively restless? Enjoy walking a cliff's edge? Multiple personality?

MICHAEL: Dean, please stop answering the questions before I can. Yes, yes, yes, and, certainly, yes to those last four. As for the genre ricocheting, I had a supportive agent. I lost a publisher, but that’ll happen, and somehow I fell into the hands of Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown, who I think is one of the all-time-great editors. Can’t say enough about the team over there. They’ve indulged my flights of fancy and I know it isn’t easy and I’ve heard plenty of lectures from other parties about the career suicide I’m cheerfully carrying out, but I’ll always say the same thing here: you’ve got to tell the story that wants to be told. That’s the joy of it, the privilege of it, and, I’d argue, the responsibility of it. To write the best story you can. That won’t always fit the same tidy box. And to try and do so seems far too close to actual work. I’m not cut out for actual work.

DEAN: When researching THE RIDGE, you became interested in big-cat rescue--lions, tigers, nothing as safe as your common tabby. Now you participate in rescues. In a way, your fiction entered your life and became part of it. The same has happened to me with Canine Companions for Independence and other things that I wrote about and subsequently became involved with. Tell us why big-cat rescue so appeals to you. And are there other examples of research/writing changing your life?

MICHAEL: The experience of working with the Exotic Feline Rescue Center is one of the truly special things in my life. I couldn’t imagine not having those cats and those people in my life at this point. It’s an amazing mission and deserving of support and, as you did with Canine Companions, I simply fell in love.

I’d drop anything to go on a big-cat rescue, and will continue to do so as long as they’ll have me. Research is forever changing my life and bringing new interests and new people into it, and that’s one of the great privileges of this craft, the chance to visit so many different worlds.

DEAN: You're young. From my perspective, you're a puppy! Yet you've already published nine substantial novels and are at work on number ten. In your book-jacket photos, you often look intense, driven. In person, you're not like that; you're relaxed and easy-going. Which is the real Michael Koryta? Or are they both real – professionally driven but personally at ease? Given the commitment that's required to write well, do you find it difficult to strike a right balance between writing and downtime?

MICHAEL: I simply cannot take a good picture. If I smile for a photograph, I look evil. Possessed. Since I don’t want to reveal this truth, I try to look brooding, haunted by remarkable stories and gorgeous prose. Now, they’re not my stories and prose, of course, but no one need know that truth, either. Professionally driven? Absolutely. It’s a privilege to have the chance and I want to do it well. Better than well. I’m not anywhere as close as I’d like to be. Personally at ease? Depends on the day. Striking the right balance isn’t terribly hard, or hasn’t been so far. The only real cost to all this is sleep. I’ve been a chronic insomniac since I began writing seriously and I’ve given up on that ever changing.

DEAN: You're writing a novel about wilderness-survival training, so you went to a survival school. Presumably you survived. I went to Las Vegas so I could write about it, and I have drunk numerous California Cabernet Sauvignons so I could write about them. But I have my limits. Do you? Is there anything you wouldn't do yourself – aside from commit a crime – so you could better write about it? At survival school, did you have to eat grubs or rodents?

MICHAEL: I shouldn’t have committed the crimes? Oops! I do love field research, though. That traces back to my PI days and reporter days, but I’d much rather step into the world I’m writing about than Google it. You simply can’t achieve the same level of understanding if you go from the outside in. You’ll find no gold if you don’t pan for it, right? That sounds like a fortune cookie found at a bad steakhouse. Such is my gift with words.

(continued)

>Read the full interview

>Read Michael's interview with Dean

>See all of Dean Koontz's books

>Read a "How I Wrote It" Q&A with Michael on the Amazon books blog

Review

PRAISE FOR THE PROPHET:

"The Prophet is a relentless, heart-in-your-throat thriller about ordinary people caught in the middle of an extraordinary nightmare."―Dennis Lehane

"Michael Koryta is an amazingly talented writer, and I rank The Prophet as one of the sharpest and superbly plotted crime novels I've read in my life."―Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time

"Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood in this powerful tale...It's a brilliantly paced thriller that keeps its villains at a tantalizing distance, a compelling family portrait, a study in morality that goes beyond the usual black-and-white judgments, and an entertaining spin on classic football fiction. A flawless performance."―Kirkus, starred review

"Elegantly written...Koryta shows great sensitivity in examining how each brother deals with these parallel tragedies."―Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"Thriller Award-finalist Koryta (The Ridge) triumphantly returns to crime fiction with this multi-layered exploration of guilt and redemption....Like Laura Lippman, Koryta has a gift for melding a suspenseful, twisty plot with a probing, unflinching look at his protagonists' weaknesses."―Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"The Prophet is like a long, heart-stopping pass down the sidelines in the final seconds of a decisive game. It's made me want to leap to my feet and cheer Koryta on."―Scott Smith

"A delicious read, intricately woven, with characters who are impossible to forget. Michael Koyta excites and satisfies on every level."―Elin Hilderbrand

"Edgar-nominated mystery wunderkind Koryta (he turns 30 this year) has earned kudos from veteran thriller writers Stephen King and Dean Koontz. He proves plenty worthy of praise in this vivid portrayal of a small Midwestern town and the evils that befall it....With its crisp writing and steady suspense, this is a must-read for his fans both old and new."―Booklist, starred review

"Gut-wrenching at every level."―Library Journal, starred review

"A compelling story...a powerful psychological portrait."―Tampa Bay Times

"Could. Not. Put. It. Down."―The New London Day

Praise for Michael Koryta:

"Somehow, Michael Koryta gets better with every book, no small feat considering the quality of those he's already written. Here's a writer for the new century, one to read, admire and, yes, envy."―Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316122610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316122610
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Koryta (pronounced Ko-ree-ta) is the New York Times-bestselling author of 11 suspense novels. His work has been praised by Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, and Scott Smith among many others, and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His books have won or been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Edgar® Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award, Quill Award, International Thriller Writers Award, and the Golden Dagger. They've been selected as "best books of the year" by publications as diverse as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, People, Reader's Digest, iBooks, and Kirkus Reviews.

His recent thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead was named the summer's best thriller by both Amazon and Entertainment Weekly, and was selected as one of the year's best books by more than 10 publications. The audio version was named one of the best audio books of the year, as well, the second time that Robert Petkoff's narration of Michael's work has earned such an honor. The novel is currently being adapted as a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox.

Michael's previous work ranges from a trio of supernatural novels--So Cold the River, The Cypress House, and The Ridge, which were all named New York Times notable books of the year and earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly--to stand-alone crime novels such as The Prophet (A New York Times bestseller) and Envy the Night (selected as a Reader's Digest condensed book), to a series of award-winning novels featuring private investigator Lincoln Perry--Tonight I Said Goodbye, Sorrow's Anthem, A Welcome Grave, and The Silent Hour.

Various film and television adaptations of the books are underway, with The Prophet, So Cold the River, The Cypress House, and Those Who Wish Me Dead all optioned as feature films, and the Lincoln Perry series and The Ridge being developed for television. Michael has written for the screen in both feature film and television. Oscar and Emmy winners are attached to every project.

Before turning to writing full-time, Michael worked as a private investigator and as a newspaper reporter, and taught at the Indiana University School of Journalism. He began working for a private investigator as an intern while in high school, turned it into his day job in the early stages of his writing career, and still maintains an interest in the firm. As a journalist, he won numerous awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Michael's first novel, the Edgar-nominated Tonight I Said Goodbye was accepted for publication when he was 20 years old. He wrote his first two published novels before graduating from college, and was published in nearly 10 languages before he fulfilled the "writing requirement" classes required for his diploma.

Michael was raised in Bloomington, Indiana, where he graduated from Bloomington North High School in 2001, and later graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. In 2008 he was honored as a "distinguished young alumni" by Indiana University, and in 2010 he was named "distinguished alumni' by the criminal justice department.

Michael's passions outside of writing and reading involve a variety of outdoor pursuits - hiking, camping, boating, and fishing are all likely to occupy his free time when he's not working on a new book. Some of his favorite spots in the world are the Beartooth Mountains, the setting of Those Who Wish Me Dead and a place to which he returns at least twice a year; the flowages of the Northwoods in Wisconsin, where he began fishing with his father as a child and still returns each fall; St. Petersburg, FL, where he lived part-time for 8 years, and southern Maine. Although he loves to travel, he stills claims his native Bloomington, Indiana as home and has a great love of the area, its diversity and culture, and the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. He lives in Bloomington with his wife, Christine, a cranky cat named Marlowe, an emotionally disturbed cat named John Pryor (long story on that name), and an exceedingly athletic dog of unknown heritage named Lola. He remains on the never-ending quest for the world's best microbrew (Upland in Bloomington is a perennial contender) and the world's best coffee (currently a tie between Kahwa in St. Petersburg and the Runcible Spoon in Bloomington).

Research has always been a driving passion of Michael's approach, leading him from big-cat rescues with the Exotic Feline Rescue Center (www.exoticfelinerescuecenter.org) to wilderness survival schools and caving trips and hypnotism. He can be followed via www.michaelkoryta.com, twitter @mjkoryta, and Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Robert Thompson on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
First, I must state that I have been (up to this book) a great Koryta fan, having read and enjoyed all of his books through The Ridge. That said, The Prophet was one of the worst thriller category books I have ever read. I would have pitched it halfway through were it not for the author. This was Koryta! It HAD to start getting better! Sadly, it did not. It seems Koryta came up with a thriller story that was good for 50 pages or so. To make it longer he stretched it over a large frame-work of a high school football program story, interweaving the two stories just enough to justify the whole thing. The football story was like a 12-inch circle and the thriller story was like a 2-inch circle. The two had a small intersection. I am an NFL football fan. When I buy a thriller book that is what I expect, not football. The football portion was WAY overblown and filled with so MUCH unnecessary detail, that I found myself just skimming through it. A GOOD editor would have red-penciled at least 60% of the football stuff(ing). The book then would probably have been a nice tight 250 page story. To add insult to injury, after the killer is dead, Koryta goes on and on about the silly football game stuff; As if any reader CARED at that point!

If you think I must be wrong on this, read it yourself. I would suggest not wasting your money, instead using the library. Then, prepare to be underwhelmed!
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Koryta's ninth book, The Prophet, is scheduled for release on August 7, 2012. After three paranormal thrillers, The Prophet is a return to Mr. Koryta's roots: a mystery set in northeast Ohio. Since I am a fan of mysteries, a fan of Mr. Koryta, and a northeast Ohioan, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of this thriller. And I was not disappointed. On page five, still part of the prologue, I knew I was hooked after reading this, a glimpse inside the mind of the as of yet unknown antagonist:

Unshakable confidence. Unshakable stupidity.
He is fascinated by the confident specimens of the helpless. He finds no fascination in the fearful.

The story is about Adam and Kent Austin, brothers who are tormented over twenty years after their sister was kidnapped and murdered. Adam, the older of the two, blamed himself, and joined his father in drinking too much and obsessing on revenge. He ruined his chances of advancing his promising football career when he left Ohio State after only one semester. He eventually returned to his home to work as a bail bondsmen in a struggling blue collar city. Kent focused on football, becoming the head coach of the high school team he played on. He found religion, had a beautiful family, and was cool, calm, and collected; a respected member of society. Neither of the brothers had fully moved on after the death of their sister, and when another high school girl is found murdered, it comes back to haunt them. It doesn't take long for Adam and Kent to realize they both were to blame for the girl's death, and the killer doesn't seem to have any intention of letting them forget it.

Michael Koryta has grown as an author with every book, but The Prophet may be the most notable since Envy the Night.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on July 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A Cain and Abel story set in a quiet midwestern town that explodes with suspense and passion from the very first page. This novel succeeds on every level, from its brilliant basic concept -- two brothers' relationship destroyed by accusations and guilt over their sister's long-ago murder and a new killing that forces them to bond - to its complex characters and a story that is beautifully-written and seamlessly plotted throughout. This is a suspense novel that transcends its genre in every way that matters. It is as bold, smart and compelling as any contemporary fiction I've read in years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Chambers is a former steel-manufacturing town in Northeast Ohio, near the shores of Lake Erie. Its inhabitants are fanatical high school football fans, especially this year, when their team has a chance to win the state championship. The Cardinals' popular head coach, Kent Austin, is a devoted family man with strong religious values. Koryta effectively captures the town's football mania: the painstaking preparation, drills leading up to game day, and the excitement of the contests themselves. Michael Koryta's "The Prophet" is partly about Coach Austin's hunger for victory, even as he chastises himself for placing so much importance on a sporting event.

The darker side of the novel focuses on two tragedies. One is the abduction and murder of Kent's sixteen-year-old sister Marie back in 1989, a horrific event that shattered the Austin family and severed the relationship between Kent and his brother, Adam. When a seventeen-year-old girl who consults Adam for information is murdered, Adam is beside himself. He has always felt guilty about failing to protect Marie. Now, he is determined to redeem himself by avenging the death of this second victim.

Koryta poignantly depicts life in an economically depressed community. Although the Austin brothers occupy center stage, the novel's canvas is much broader. The author shows how high unemployment can drive desperate people to crime and lead to alienation, alcoholism, and despair. A pall hangs over Chambers, with its shuttered businesses and foreclosed homes.

This is also a psychological thriller in which Koryta explores the indelible grief that eats away at people who lose their loved ones too soon.
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