Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead

It has been a long time since I've read a book so engrossing that I completely lost track of time. Those Who Wish Me Dead kept me on the edge of my seat and fully sucked in. I could. not. put. it. down! I looked up and realized it was 7 p.m. and I hadn't even fed my boys any dinner. As soon as their meal was on the table, I retreated to my bedroom again to resume my reading, much to my husband's chagrin. Although he likes to read, his choices are usually non-fiction, so he doesn't get that whole ... I can't do anything but read this book right now because I've just GOT TO FIND OUT HOW IT ENDS.

I'd love to say that I read bunches and bunches of accolades for this book, just so I could say "it certainly lives up to the hype." But, alas, it was merely one our library purchased and placed on the recent acquisitions e-mail list. If you're coming to this review because you've read loads of good things about this book, then ... well, it certainly lives up to the hype!

Fourteen year old Jace Wilson is swimming in the quarry when he happens upon a dead body in the water. Before he can leave to alert the authorities, two men who appear to be policemen show up and commit another murder. I never quite got how Jace evaded them the first time, but the chances of his evading them a second time seem slim to none. These are ruthless, assassin-type killers. Thus, Jace is given a new identity and sent to live with a wilderness preparedness program in the mountains of Montana.

I marveled at how well the author upped the ante over and over again. He added new wrinkles and twists expertly, with well-timed precision. When I went to lie down with the little boys, I expressed my desire to get back to the book. Trevor asked what was so great about the book, so I began to tell them the premise and the exact point I was at (where the wilderness instructor jumped from a cliff with one of the bad guys in tow). Trevor, who hates to read almost as much as his older brother, said it sounded like a book even he would want to read. With only a little bit of cursing, it is a book I would be willing to let him attempt in a few years time. The book is full of information about survival and firefighting techniques. These bits were fascinating without detracting at all from the plot-driven story.

I found myself envying the skill of this expert writer. I want to be able to suck a reader in to the point where they cannot do anything but return to the book for yet another page, yet another element of surprise. I want to learn how to pace a plot in such a way that the action moves seamlessly from one event to the next with the power and speed of a forest fire. What's more ... I want to head to Bloomington, Indiana, where Michael Koryta lives, to meet and talk to this highly-skilled author. I want to sit at his feet and soak in any lessons he might be willing to offer up. Instead, I'll just have to think long and hard about the elements which made this book a work of art and a story told to perfection.

If you are looking for a riveting thriller, this is definitely one of the best I've read. Although there are a few gruesome details of the killings and the perpetrators are evil incarnate, this book will make you root for the good guys and bite your nails hoping they triumph in the end. If you are a writer hoping to write the next blockbuster thriller, here's your instruction manual!

If you aren't up for the harrowing experience of this book, then be sure to catch the movie when it comes out, as the movie rights have been purchased by 20th Century Fox. It will, no doubt, be the ride of a lifetime. As John Hart, a New York Times bestselling author, says of this author's books, ""Reading Michael Koryta is like stepping into fast water. You don't know where the current will take you, only that it's strong and deep and likely to sweep you away. That's what the best fiction does, and Koryta does it better than just about anyone else."

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