For deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble, the lighthouse-keeper's death is disturbing and personal. Years ago, Kimble was shot while on duty. Somehow the death suggests a connection between the lighthouse and the most terrifying moment of his life.
Audrey Clark is in the midst of moving her large-cat sanctuary onto land adjacent to the lighthouse. Sixty-seven tigers, lions, leopards, and one legendary black panther are about to have a new home there. Her husband, the sanctuary's founder, died scouting the new property, and Audrey is determined to see his vision through.
As strange occurrences multiply at the Ridge, the animals grow ever more restless, and Kimble and Audrey try to understand what evil forces are moving through this ancient landscape, just past the divide between dark and light.
The Ridge is the new thriller from international bestseller Michael Koryta, further evidence of why Dean Koontz has said "Michael Koryta's work resonates into deeper strata than does most of what I read" and why Michael Connelly has named him "one of the best of the best."
Hamilton: You broke in the same way I did, through the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest. That first book, Tonight I Said Goodbye, went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award. How did you handle such sudden success at such a young age?
Koryta: Well, the positive side of being 20 when the book won the contest and 21 when it was published was that I knew absolutely nothing about publishing. I was an undergrad, working two jobs. Between all that and writing, I didn’t have time to worry, I just kept my head down and got work done.
Hamilton: You did two more Lincoln Perry novels after that first one, then broke out of the series to write Envy the Night. That’s a fairly early departure from a series. Were you conscious of the risk you were taking?
Koryta: You know, I didn’t think of it as a risk. I thought it was a better book than what I’d done before and therefore a wise move. That was the book that had to be written. I didn’t feel as if I had much choice in the matter. You’ve got a limited number of shots, so the only risk I see is in letting those slip past for stories you’d love to tell.
Hamilton: You returned to the series for one more Lincoln Perry book (The Silent Hour). Now, these were all very well-received, well-reviewed books. You were definitely on most everyone’s short list of favorite private eye writers. Any sane, normal person would have kept going down that same road. But you? Not so much. Please explain yourself.
Koryta: Again, we come back to the idea of the story you’ve just got to write. I’d been entranced with the folklore and history behind So Cold the River for years, and I just couldn’t put the brakes on. I went off to write a 500-page ghost story, and it prompted a change in publishers, but that book also ended up selling better and getting better publicity than anything I’d done before. So sanity, schmanity, says I!
Hamilton: Seriously, no matter what anyone says now, it was a radical departure for you to try something so different. You probably don’t like categories any more than I do, but you’re probably going to find So Cold the River on the “Horror” shelf in many bookstores, right next to Stephen King. (King, Koryta--okay, maybe Dean Koontz is in the middle there.) The thing that makes this so amazing to me is that just a few years ago, the horror genre was essentially left for dead. You had to know this. And yet here you are, breathing new life into it. What on earth made you decide to attempt such a leap?
Koryta: Ironically, it found me shelved in “fiction and literature” instead of either mystery or horror. I never considered it all that different from my past work. To me, it was still suspense, just with a supernatural thread. But of course I knew some people would feel differently. I tried to take comfort in knowing that other writers--King, Koontz, Matheson, Levin, McCammon, Straub, Bradbury--had done just fine by focusing on writing well. And Joe Hill! Before he got any bump from being King’s son, he got a lot of attention simply for writing a great book. Heart-Shaped Box was an encouragement for me, a reminder of how much fun a writer should be having at his craft. You can feel how much fun he’s having.
Hamilton: You’ve kept working in this same vein, with The Cypress House and now with The Ridge. As good as your crime fiction was, I can’t help but think that you’re really hitting your stride now. Does writing a story with paranormal elements give you a better opportunity to do something truly original and amazing?
Koryta: It opens things up a great deal. I think of Hitchcock, who always created suspense, but delivered it in a lot of different ways. Any writer who’s interested in putting a real squeeze of tension around the reader’s heart probably considers a spooky tale at some point, and I’m surprised more don’t chase the impulse. I find that it allows me to wrestle with larger issues thematically and symbolically. Now, that’s a personal experience. But the past three books feel bigger to me in those ways.
Hamilton: Any plans to return to crime fiction (or for that matter, to Lincoln Perry)?
Koryta: Absolutely! The next book is going to be a traditional crime novel, a story I’ve been kicking around for years, about two brothers who lost a sibling to violent crime and grew up coping with that tragedy in radically different ways. It’s also a football book--one of the brothers is a high school coach in Ohio, where high school football is a very big deal. As for Lincoln, we’ll wait and see.
"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
"An eerie tale... a dark and compulsively readable story...Reading The Ridge is a fine way to chill down a hot summer night. But you'll want to leave the lights on."―Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
"A rural Kentucky community becomes the unlikely focal point for a series of enigmatic and terrifying events in Koryta's subtle supernatural thriller...Koryta matches an original and complex plot line with prose full of understated menace."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A freshly imagined and elegantly constructed variation on the dead-of-night ghost story.... [an] eerie tale... readers are swept along by Koryta's narrative voice, which is surprisingly soft and low and poetically insinuating."―Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
"A man in love with the woman who shot him. Who could possibly resist that story? Not me. Read on, and discover one of the scariest and most touching horror tales in years."―James Patterson
"From page one of The Ridge, Michael Koryta has the reader leaning forward, racing down the page, driving deeper and deeper into his creepy, pulpy tale to find out what bad thing is going to happen next. As in So Cold the River, Koryta delivers a midwestern ghost story based on place--another roadside attraction from his haunted heartland. Reader, heed my advice: hold his hand tight. You don't want to get caught out here alone in the woods, in the night, in the dark."―Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone
"Koryta delivers another supernatural thriller with punch....Part ghost story, part murder mystery, all thriller, this fast-paced and engaging read will have readers leaving the night-light on long after they have finished the book."―Library Journal (starred review)
"[An] intense novel that has a touch of Stephen King thrown in for good measure... A chilling story that will have you burning the midnight oil and wishing you had a lighthouse to ward off any dark presence around you."―Jackie K. Cooper, The Huffington Post