Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Cypress House - Michael Koryta
The Cypress House, Michael Koryta, Little, Brown and Company, 2011
It isn't something he likes to talk about, but Arlen Wagner can see death coming. He has seen it plenty during the war, and enough afterwards, too. Now, in the midst of the Great Depression, as he travels south to the Florida Keys on a train full of Civilian Conservation Corps workers bound for a new project, Arlen is suddenly surrounded by skeletons. He realizes something terrible is about to happen to every man aboard that train, but he fails to convince any but one of them to get off at the next stop. Arlen and his young companion, Paul, set off in search of new opportunity. They end up at The Cypress House, an inn in a desolate county on the Gulf Coast, run by the lovely and secretive Rebecca Cady, where they weather a terrible hurricane that indeed kills all the men who stayed on the train. Lacking anywhere else to go, Arlen and Paul stay behind to help Rebecca repair her damaged property, and quickly find themselves entangled in a seemingly inescapable and brutal web of crime, corruption, and intrigue.
The Cypress House was an absolute page turner, each chapter revealing a new plot twist or complication. Arlen is a wonderful protagonist - a working man, a bit hardened by life, smart, loyal, and an imperfect hero. His supernatural ability was used perfectly in the story- it heightens the drama and suspense, but never overwhelms. I also loved the setting - Koryta takes the beautiful backdrop of the Florida Coast and manages to inject a delightful sinister quality. The ending is wonderfully exciting, and the whole book reads like a movie you are just dying to see.
I highly recommended The Cypress House for anyone who loves a good supernatural suspense/thriller.