A lot of people have dreams of being a writer when they are young, but not nearly as many manage to pull off getting a book published by the age of 21. But Michael Koryta did.
A native of Bloomington, Indiana, Koryta (pronounced ko-ree-ta) not only saw his debut, Tonight I Said Goodbye, published to great acclaim when he was just barely in his twenties, but it went on to win the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel prize. Not. Too. Shabby.
Since the publication of Tonight I Said Goodbye, Koryta has released thirteen more novels of contemporary crime and the supernatural. His novels have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list, and have won or been nominated for such honors as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, the Barry Award, the Quill Award, and the International Thriller Writers Awards.
So when you have an author with so many amazing commendations and reviews, how do you know where to start with their books? The most simple answer is Goodreads. Taste is subjective, sure, but collectively the ratings on Goodreads give you a pretty good idea of how the general populace feels about a book. And–spoiler–they love Michael Koryta.
So here are seven of Michael Koryta’s best books based on Goodreads ratings. Two are from Koryta’s two detective series, and the other five are the best-rated of his standalone novels. There’s plenty here to get you started off on great new reading adventures and keep you busy for a while!
Average Rating: 3.97
Tonight I Said Goodbye was Koryta's award-winning debut. It introduced the world to investigator Lincoln Perry, a hotheaded detective from Cleveland. In A Welcome Grave, the third book in the series, one of the city's most prominent attorneys, Alex Jefferson, is dead, and his widow wants Perry's help. It was a fight with Jefferson that cost Perry his job on the police force, and he knows he should steer clear, but he doesn't feel he can walk away from the case. He's soon going to wish he had.
Average Rating: 3.84
Frank Temple III has been struggling to make sense of life ever since he discovered his U.S. Marshall father lead a double life as a contract killer seven years earlier, followed by his father's death by suicide to avoid prosecution. Now Temple has learned Devin Matteson, the man who first trained his father–and then double-crossed him–is returning to his old stomping grounds. With a thirst for vengeance, Temple goes looking for Matteson, only to stumble upon a group of killers with their own plans.
Average Rating: 3.8
When the lighthouse keeper of an unusual lighthouse in Kentucky is found dead, it opens up a world of problems for deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble and Audrey Clark, owner of a large-cat sanctuary. For Kimble, the lighthouse is tied to the most terrifying moment of his life. For Clark, the lighthouse's land is to be the new home to the sanctuary started by her late husband. But something evil is moving through the woods, no longer content to hide in the dark.
Average Rating: 3.91
One of the highest-rated of all Koryta's novels, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a psychological thriller about savage killers and a teenage boy who was witness to their crime. After witnessing a brutal murder, fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson is given a new identity and sent to a wilderness protection program for troubled youths to hide him away. But the murderous Blackwell Brothers will not rest until they find him. And they're getting closer...
Average Rating: 3.74
This is the second book in Koryta's series about investigator Markus Novak. In it, he is hunting Garland Webb, the man he believes killed his wife in the mountains of Montana. When Webb kidnaps a local woman, it draws together several people towards a shocking showdown.
Average Rating: 3.8
Kimberly Crepeaux has always been a trouble maker and a liar, as far as the citizens of the small town where she lives are concerned. So when Kimberly details her part in a double murder, no one believes her. Except for FBI investigator Rob Barrett, a native of Kimberly's hometown. But when the bodies turn up and none of the details match Kimberly's story, it looks like Barrett's career is coming to an end. He'll have to solve the case in order to get to the bottom of the incorrect case if he wants to save his job.
Average Rating: 3.85
In another great Maine-based novel, two women must fight back to save themselves from a killer. When college senior Tara Beckley is involved in a horrific car accident, she experiences locked-in syndrome: she's fully alert but unable to move a muscle. That's when she learns someone wants her dead–but she can't do anything about it. Insurance investigator Abby Kaplan quickly pieces together that Tara's crash was not an accident, which puts her right in the crosshairs of a vicious contract killer.
New York Times bestselling author Michael Koryta, the "master" (Stephen King) of American thriller writing, returns with an electrifying new novel set in Maine about a mother seeking to regain custody of her children after a terrible trial tears their family apart.
What to Read Next
Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.