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An Honest Man


An Honest Man

Michael Koryta is a true “writer’s writer,” and his work is not to be missed. When you see some of the best authors in the business such as Stephen King, Lee Child, David Baldacci and Lisa Unger praising AN HONEST MAN and speaking about the high esteem in which they hold a Michael Koryta novel, you realize that you should be reading his work. If you’re not, then hopefully this review will encourage you to check him out.

"Hunker down and come along for the ride as you are in the presence of a master thriller writer operating at the height of his craft."

Israel Pike is a self-proclaimed honest man, which might not sit well with the residents of his close-knit community on Salvation Point Island, located off the coast of Maine. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Israel just wrapped up a 15-year prison stint for killing his abusive father. His uncle Sterling wants nothing more than to put Israel back behind bars and out of his sight at any cost necessary. Israel is well aware of the role that his uncle played in his incarceration, as well as the hard time he endured in prison.

Sterling may just get his wish; a mere nine weeks after Israel’s release and return to the island, his nephew is mixed up in another controversy. While out on the water, Israel comes across a luxury yacht that does not appear to have anyone visible aboard. Inside are multiple bodies, all apparent murder victims. He reports his findings immediately and is visited by both his uncle and his tough boss, Jennifer Salazar. Sterling is quick to place serious shade and suspicion on Israel for the mass homicide.

The situation gets worse and exceedingly high-profile when the majority of the victims turn out to be prominent local figures. They include two opponents in an upcoming Senate race, along with the attorney general who put Israel behind bars.

Running parallel to Israel’s plight is a narrative that will be tied to the overall plot well before everything is wrapped up. It involves 12-year-old Lyman Rankin, who lives on Salvation Point Island with his violent and angry father. Lyman likes to hide from him in some of the abandoned houses around their depressed part of the island. One day, while doing just that, he comes across a strange French woman. Once she sees that Lyman is no threat to her, she allows him to care for her and the various bloody wounds on her body.

When these two storylines eventually converge, it is well worth the wait. Whether or not Israel’s claims of being an honest man end up being confirmed will be found in the book’s jaw-dropping conclusion. Hunker down and come along for the ride as you are in the presence of a master thriller writer operating at the height of his craft.

As a lifelong reader, I appreciated the shout-out that Koryta gives to Gary Paulsen and his classic novel, HATCHET, when Lyman names his unexpected guest “Hatchet.” This is pointed out in the Acknowledgements and shows the great literary pedigree on which Koryta was raised.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 4, 2023

An Honest Man
by Michael Koryta

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 031653594X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316535946