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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
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
on July 27, 2012
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. He superbly developed the character of two protagonists. Both brothers had likable and dis-likable qualities, both had good intentions, and despite doing things differently, neither were really wrong in the reasoning behind their choices. The antagonist was beautifully despicable, rich with evil, a pleasure to hate.
Good character development is what makes an author great, which makes me feel as if I know the characters and understand their thoughts and actions. Consider this exchange between Adam and Kent:
He looked back at Kent. "Can you do that? Because you're going to need to. The shotgun rounds will drop him, but they won't keep him down. Not a .410 shell, which is what this takes. So you'll need to be able to finish it. Can you do that?"
I don't hope to have the opportunity to find out."
"Can you do it?" Adam said. "Because otherwise, there's no point, Kent. Go buy some pepper spray and hope the neighbors hear with Beth screams."
Kent winced, turning his head as if to shed the words. Then he swallowed, looked back at Adam, and extended his hand for the gun.
This exchange was emotional for me, brought tears to my eyes; brothers, not on the best terms, but there for each other, talking about decisions that had to be made, life and death decisions, about character, and fundamental truth. But to a reader who had not read the 253 previous pages, hadn't known Adam and Kent Austin, would likely not have had a similar response, there would be no emotional investment in the people having that conversation.
Dialogue like this, between characters that seem alive and real to a reader, is what makes reading worth it, something that can rarely, if ever, be captured in a movie or television show. Plot is sometimes secondary to good, believable characters; a good plot can not survive bad characters, but a book with a weak plot but likable heroes can. In The Prophet, a reader will experience the best of both.

Finally, just as a quick side note for those who aren't football fans, don't let that disuade you from reading The Prophet. While football was integral to the book, defined the characters, it isn't what the story was about. It was much deeper than that. And Mr. Koryta will have you if not loving football, then at least caring about the outcome of the games in this book.

Michael Koryta has become an author unto himself. His books can compete with the best--Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, James Lee Burke, Stephen King, Lawrence Block--and he has developed a style that is unlike the others, making him a stand-out author. I look forward to reading many more books from him.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2012
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
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. The survivors may have jobs, friends, and/or lovers, but they may also experience hidden pain that even time cannot heal. The murder mystery is compelling but a bit too contrived. It is, at best, a device that forces Adam and Kent to come to terms with one another, their past, and a series of formidable challenges that could very well destroy them.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 12, 2012
Over twenty years ago, Adam Austin made the decision to spend the evening with his girlfriend rather than driving his sister home from school. During the ten minutes it took Marie to walk home, she was abducted, raped, and murdered. Though her killer was eventually caught, the family bonds were severed and the once close brothers, Adam and Kent, gradually grew further apart--Adam taking a declining road toward unhealthy obsession with his grief and Kent turning to God in an effort to find peace.

When another brutal murder strikes their home town of Chambers, Ohio, the memory of Marie's murder resurfaces, not only for Adam and Kent but for the town as well. For once again the high school football team is in the midst of a state championship run and the team is again deeply affected. Twenty years ago, as a senior, Adam used his grief to win the championship. Now as coach, can Kent overcome the suffocating similarities between the past and the present to accomplish the same feat? But more importantly, can the two brothers work together to catch a killer whose goal is a self-satisfying experiment to determine which will win--Kent's faith or his fear? With an extremely easy reading style, tight suspense, and excellent plot twists, The Prophet is another suspense-filled novel by Michael Koryta.

If this book was marketed as Christian fiction, the question of whether Kent's faith or fear will win would be a forgone conclusion. After all, in the Christian market, good always conquers evil and a person's faith will ultimately take them to a closer relationship with God. In Christian fiction, the hero never succumbs to fear (at least I can't recall a book where that's happened). The Prophet is not marketed as a Christian fiction novel though, so the answer is not a given and as a result, it makes this part of the book much less predictable and more open for the reader to interpret the character's actions.

I have no knowledge of Koryta's spiritual beliefs, but from reading his books, there seems to be some subtle (or not) Christian elements. For example, I thought The Ridge could be viewed as an allegory of light conquering the darkness. However, my beliefs could simply be affecting my interpretation and Koryta might not be including any spiritual elements at all. So my opinion of The Prophet will reflect those same beliefs and as a result, I might imply my own ideas and not necessarily what the author intended. But I think this is a mark of great writing. Not everything has to be explicitly explained.

One of the first parts of this novel that caught my attention is the contrast between Adam and Kent and how their paths went such drastically different directions. Given the role each played in Marie's death, it's understandable that Adam would have the most difficult time dealing with her death. However, there's little doubt that his approach is incredibly unhealthy. On the other hand, Kent turned to faith, which sustained him and moved his life in a positive direction. But there's an oddness to how these two characters develop as the book progresses. While Adam should generate a lot of sympathy, he starts out as an incredibly irritating character. It took ¾ of the book for me to warm up to him. Kent starts out very likeable, but I became frustrated with his tendency to roll over like a scolded puppy. The evolution of these characters is really fascinating to follow and by the end of the book, I felt like I understood both of them. I could root for them equally, which is quite amazing, considering I was ready to commit Adam to an asylum early on.

Koryta can certainly write a realistic Christian character. I love how Kent was portrayed. I'm a fan of flawed characters--I always have been. It's rare to find a Christian character as well-balanced as Kent. He showed his faith and at times was guilty of pushing his faith. However, he also struggled to live his faith and he melted down just like Christians do every day. I like that Kent was not perfect, but I particularly liked that his struggles were not highlighted or smudged away by passages of scripture. He tried to live his faith, but at times failed; that's a pretty realistic portrayal of the Christian life.

I'm a football fan and thoroughly enjoyed the high school football backdrop. While there is a decent amount of technical information about the game, the casual fan should be able to follow this part easily enough. However, for those that love the game, I think they'll enjoy the different strategies and football talk that's scattered throughout the story.

While it didn't hurt my overall enjoyment of the book, I do wish more time would have been spent with the killer and his internal thoughts. I never felt like I knew him as much as I wanted to. I know, who really wants to know the killer? But I loved the idea that the killer was testing Kent's faith and I wanted to delve a little deeper into this aspect of the book. I still completely enjoyed the story that is told, I just wanted a bit more from the killer's perspective.

This is a general market book and it does contain some strong language and minor sexual content. Both of which are appropriate for the story being told. For readers who are okay with this type of content, I highly recommend The Prophet. It has a great storyline and the characters are fantastic. The ending though is the best part; it's surprising, realistic, appropriate, and left me with something to think about. Michael Koryta has become one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to read his next one.

Review title provided courtesy of Little, Brown, & Company
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2012
This is an amazing book. My husband gave it to me as a gift, and I hooked by the powerful opening pages and imagery of mid-western fall. I thought I had the plot figured out, but I was wrong. I loved the twists and turns and the psychological suspense. Also, I am not a football fan, but the game scenes are riveting. I recommend highly to anyone who loves suspense, mystery, thrillers or simply a great novel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
36 stars!

Review of The Prophet by Michael Koryta

Publication date August 7, 2012

I had hoped this would be one of my favourite author's stunning Supernatural thrillers (this is what happens when one doesn't read the blurb LOL). It isn't-but it is a stunner nonetheless. As far as I am concerned (and I believe I've read all his books to date), author Michael Koryta cannot write an imperfect book. Yet in "The Prophet" he has gone above and beyond even his usual perfection, and written a book so deep that I cannot set it aside, cannot stop thinking about it, and will never forget it. His characterizations are incredibly deep and detailed-as if the author was not only omniscient but psychologically talented and wise as well. I won't give anything away, but I must say that Mr. Koryta deals with issues of morality (and ethical relativity), faith, fear, sibling connections, parent-child relations, revenge, sociopathy, crime, vigilantism-and the list goes on. But it's never a surface skimming: Mr. Koryta delves deep, deeper than I could have ever expected. He doesn't just cut to the bone; he digs out the marrow.

I read this book over the course of two evenings (it would have been in one setting were it not that I needed to devote time to Review books) but I doubt it will ever leave my mind. The emotional, moral, psychological, and ethical impact of this book is so deep, so powerful, it's like a meteor dropped on my soul. Read it-read it-read it-but never forget it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2013
I had previously read the other books which were more of a supernatural nature and enjoyed them. I saw a recommendation in a newspaper for this and thought I would give it a whirl. I loved the thriller element of the story, the twists, the relationship between the two brothers, but WAY TOO MUCH American football - I just skimmed over these paragraphs (of which there were far too many) - they were so unnecessary and did nothing to add to the plot. Shame as otherwise I would have given the book 5 stars.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2012
I've read several other books by Michael Koryta and have always found myself thoroughly absorbed by his work. His writing style, his plotting and especially his ability to craft unique, flawed, somewhat tragic characters has always kept me burning through his books and thinking about them long after I finished them. And I felt the same about this one -- most of the way. I loved the relationship between Adam and Kent, the setting in a small Ohio town where football is the only thing that gives the people hope and the way a violent crime initially drives the already estranged brothers even further apart, then brings them together and forces them to reexamine the way they've been living their lives in light of a long-ago tragedy that neither has really been able to put behind him. And all the way till the end, I was onboard, flying through the pages and loving each and every plot point. But the ending really bugged me. And I'm not talking about the final outcome of things between the brothers. I'm talking about the identity of the killer and the way what should have been an exciting climax played out so quickly and flatly. I don't want to give too much away, but I wish Mr. Koryta had taken a little more time to think that through. It feels rushed and arbitrary. And at least for me, the culmination of a thriller should play out with at least some interaction between the hero and villain. In this case, from the moment the killer's identity was revealed until he met his fate, I felt a sense of "You gotta be kidding me," and not in a good way. Still, it's a solid read that moved me quite a bit, especially the relationship between the brothers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I only discovered Koryta a few books ago and I'm hooked... One more time I could not put his latest book ---The Prophet--- down. A real Wowser. I see that Michael Connelly said on the back of the cover, "The best of the Best" I'm starting to see why his contemporaries like him....This is a riveting book that keeps the pricklies up on the back of my neck!
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