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The Cypress House By Michael Koryta

Praise

The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from “one of the best of the best” (Michael Connelly)
“Gangsters, a silent but heroic drifter with second sight, and a whopper of a Florida hurricane. How can you go wrong?” (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly )

“The Cypress House is a unique and entertaining blend of noir and paranormal suspense, with a tightly controlled supernatural thread as believable as the gunplay. Mr. Koryta is at the start of what will surely be a great career. He’s now on my must-read list.” (Dean Koontz, author of Lost Souls )

“The Cypress House is a dazzling blend of suspense, the supernatural, and superb storytelling. What a gifted writer. Michael Koryta is the real deal.” (Ron Rash, author of Serena )

“Michael Koryta is one of our new dynamos in the world of books, and in The Cypress House he spreads his range, wedding suspense with the supernatural in the eeriness of 1930s Florida. He uses the psychology of place to penetrate the human heart and delivers his tale of hurricanes and love and hauntings with great narrative force. Koryta’s becoming a wonder we’ll appreciate for a long time.” (Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone )

“Michael Koryta has fashioned a great character in his reluctant prophet, Arlen Wagner, a good man who ends up with an awful lot of blood on his hands before the denouement of this deliciously dark tale. Koryta is a fantastic storyteller, and the many admirers of his previous novel, So Cold the River, will find similar chilly pleasures awaiting them here.” (Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins )

“Michael Koryta’s command of story, character, and language put him in an elite group of writers at work today: Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly and Lee Child to name a few. He is one of the very best writers out there. Don’t try to label him, or stick him in a genre; that would be a disservice. Just read him, and soon you’ll be saying Michael Koryta is among the best there is. And even that praise falls miserably short.” (Ridley Pearson, author of In Harm’s Way )

My Review

A haunting Cleverly written story. The main protagonist Arlene has some scores to settle and souls to help close to home and out of town. The story is set in a bleak weather and financial climate. He finds himself in a town where more than his carpentry skills are needed. One woman a resident of Cypress House is in his need of his help, trapped in a web of bribery, murder and drug running at the hands of a gang of violent men. Arlene has already his own demons to deal with as he battles with and tries to understand his deceased fathers last words and days of lives. As time goes by he becomes closer to his father more than ever and starts to understand and realize his father. This was a a chilling story of human struggle in desperate times, a story written about many times before but presented here in a very different atmosphere and supernatural twist.

“This life was nothing but a
sojourn anyhow. A temporary stay, that of a, stranger in a strange land.
, “Love lingers,” Arlen said.”

“It’s this place, he thought. There’s something wrong with this place. Death hides here, even from me.
The Cypress House, it was called. The Cypress House. That brought back
memories, too. Not of a highway tavern, though. No, no. The cypress houses of Arlen’s youth had been quite
different than that. They’d been houses of death another sort entirely. The last Pope was in one now. Every Pope who’d passed on was, as far as Arlen knew.
Always would be. Cypress Wood was required in the sacred burial rites of many faiths in many lands. The branches of the trees themselves were symbols of death mourning.”

” You’re all I have in this world, son, that death can’t take. This world isn’t anything but a sojourn, to be sure, but death removes every trace unless you’re taken pains to leave one behind. You’re my trace, Arlen.”

“He loved Work. Physical labor. It was a strange thing, maybe, but he loved the ache in his muscles at the end of a day, loved the sweat that coursed from his pores, loved the sound of a saw and the feel of a hammer, the
clean crack of a well-struck nail. So many men wandered this country now, looking for so simple a thing as work. It was a bizarre notion when you stopped to think about it, and Arlen figured it was a birth pang of a new world. So much had happened to cause this Depression, so many things he understood and more that he did not,
but in the end they all captured a simple idea: you couldn’t depend solely on yourself anymore. Not in the way men once had. You could have skill and strength and desire, but you had to find someone who needed to utilize those things. Was a time when, if you knew how to work metal, you’d set up a blacksmith shop and make l enough to support your family. Now, if you knew
how to work metal, you’d likely need a job in a factory where the needs of not a town but a state, a nation, a world, had to be met. It was all about size now: the big ran the world on the sweat of the small, and if the big faltered for any reason, the small were the first to go.”

““Cypress is damn strong.”
“It makes the finest coffins,” Arlen said.“How in the hell do you
know a thing like that?”
“My father told me,” Arlen said. “He paid a lot of mind to such things.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 22 July 2011

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