Koryta, Michael J. 1982-
Koryta, Michael J. 1982-
Born 1982. Education: Indiana University, B.A. (criminal justice).
Home—Bloomington, IN. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Held post at Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN, reporter; also works for a private investigation firm.
Indiana Society of Professional Investigators.
Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination for best first novel, Mystery Writers of America, Best First Private-eye Novel contest winner, St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America, and Great Lakes Book Award for best mystery, all for Tonight I Said Goodbye.
Tonight I Said Goodbye, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
Sorrow's Anthem, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
A Welcome Grave, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.
Envy the Night, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008.
Author's works have been translated into more than ten languages.
Michael J. Koryta wrote his first detective novel while he was just a freshman in college. Although this manuscript was ultimately rejected by publishers, Koryta received enough positive feedback to write his second novel, Tonight I Said Goodbye, which was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The detective story is set in Cleveland, Ohio, and is narrated by private eye Lincoln Perry. Perry is a former policeman who left the force in disgrace and now works with his former partner, a retired cop named Joe Pritchard. The two are hired to investigate the death of another private investigator, whose death is ruled a suicide. To complicate matters, the deceased's family has gone missing, and the police suspect they have been killed. Although initially reluctant to take the case, the two detectives get involved and soon uncover unsavory dealings in real estate and a gang of Russian mobsters who seem to want them off the case. Perry eventually traces the dead investigator's family to Myrtle Beach, only to discover that the Russians are on their trail as well.
In a review of Tonight I Said Goodbye for the Thrilling Detective Web site, James R. Winter called Koryta "a master at chapter management, always ending with a question hanging in the air." Although Winter felt that the author's "descriptions are a tad obvious" in some sections, he added that, "overall, Koryta's prose is crisp and his plotting solid." Stacy Alesi, writing in Library Journal, commented that the novelist "excels at building characters and story, making this one of the best mystery debuts this year." In a review for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Minette Walters called Tonight I Said Goodbye "a terrific debut, an old-fashioned private eye novel that has a timeless feel but features contemporary issues."
Perry makes his second appearance in Sorrow's Anthem, which January reviewer Kevin Burton Smith hailed as an "exhilarating" novel that demonstrates Koryta's maturing literary skill. The plot involves an arson investigation whose chief suspect is Perry's childhood friend, who went to jail years earlier on drug charges after Perry arrested him. As he attempts to clear Ed Gradduk's name, however, the detective uncovers a web of nasty secrets that threaten not only his physical well-being but his memories as well. "A novice writer's hesitance and reliance on the safety of formula have been replaced here by boldness and assertiveness, as Koryta confidently stakes out his own turf," wrote Smith. Sorrow's Anthem is so good, according to Reviewing the Evidence Web site contributor Carroll Johnson, that it "just might change the way you think about the private eye novel forever."
In A Welcome Grave, Perry becomes entangled in the complicated affairs of his ex-wife, Karen, when her wealthy new husband, Alex Jefferson, is found murdered. Because Perry had beaten the daylights out of Jefferson when they had last met, the detective becomes the prime suspect. Things only get worse for Perry when he agrees to help Karen find Jefferson's estranged son, Matthew, and the young man pulls a gun out and kills himself. Though forensics tests clear him in the case of Matthew's death, Perry is clearly being framed, and he sets out to find Jefferson's real killer. Noting that the novel contains plenty of genre clichés, a writer for Kirkus Reviews nevertheless concluded that "sentence for polished sentence, no one in the genre writes better."
Koryta told CA: "I've wanted to write since I began to read. The key influences that led me to this genre came first in the form of movies, as my father was a fan of film noir and I watched Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, and many others as a child, and then in fiction through the writings of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Those early influences led me to the work of Dennis Lehane, who became the key contemporary influence of my high school and college years, when I began to write detective novels. Another important high school discovery was Stephen King's book On Writing. Now that I write in the genre I do far less reading of detective novels. My writing process is best described as without a net. I open with a scenario I know little about and move forward into a first draft without having an outline. That first draft becomes a sort of 400-page outline, as I usually do extensive rewriting before arriving at anything close to a suitable draft. I work mostly in the late afternoon or evening, and always with music playing in the background.
"The most surprising thing I've learned is just how much can be done on the page, how much a writer can say with a great level of art. It's a task that demands constant pursuit of improvement and growth, and the pleasure comes from the knowledge that those things can always be had. My favorite book is always the one yet to come. I don't dwell much on those that have already been published.
"My hope is that my stories entertain while moving the readers emotionally, and perhaps provoking them toward additional thought about themselves and our world. That's the grand goal, at least."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2006, Allison Block, review of Sorrow's Anthem, p. 68; May 1, 2007, Allison Block, review of A Welcome Grave, p. 32.
Books, August 11, 2007, "Til Death Do Us Part: Thrillers and Mysteries That Explore Obsession, Perversion and Infidelity," p. 8.
January, June 1, 2006, Kevin Burton Smith, "Cooking and Coasting."
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Tonight I Said Goodbye, p. 781; December 1, 2005, review of Sorrow's Anthem, p. 1257; May 15, 2007, review of A Welcome Grave.
Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Stacy Alesi, review of Tonight I Said Goodbye, p. 125.
Publishers Weekly, August 30, 2004, review of Tonight I Said Goodbye, p. 32; December 12, 2005, review of Sorrow's Anthem, p. 41.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 19, 2004, Minette Walters, review of Tonight I Said Goodbye.
Michael Koryta Home Page,http://www.michaelkoryta.com (January 3, 2008).
Michael Koryta MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/michaelkoryta (January 3, 2008).
Reviewing the Evidence,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (January 3, 2008), Carroll Johnson, review of Sorrow's Anthem.
Sons of Spade,http://sonsofspade.blogspot.com/ (January 3, 2008), "Q & A with Michael Koryta."
Thrilling Detective,http://www.thrillingdetective.com/ (May 18, 2005), James R. Winter, review of Tonight I Said Goodbye.