Reviews: New novels by Michael Koryta, Bryn Greenwood

Associated Press

“Rise the Dark”

by Michael Koryta

(Little, Brown and Co.)

The book jacket of Michael Koryta’s “Rise the Dark.”

Mark Novak, seen previously in Michael Koryta’s “Last Words,” is still seeking answers regarding the murder of his wife in “Rise the Dark.”

Garland Webb, the man responsible for killing Lauren Novak, walks away a free man on a technicality. Mark knows Garland is responsible, but can he prove it? The words “Rise the Dark” were written in Lauren’s notebook prior to her death, and the cryptic message has been elusive.

Mark visits the site of his wife’s murder and learns that he’s a pawn in a game where his survival is doubtful. Garland knows every move Mark is going to make, and the truth behind Lauren’s cryptic message will ruin the lives of many people.

Koryta has a gift for terrific suspense that immerses the reader while also delivering prose that almost reads like poetry. Some of the answers that Mark finds are a bit hard to believe, but that’s a minor bump in the road that should definitely be traveled.

— Jeff Ayers

“All the Ugly and

Wonderful Things”

by Bryn Greenwood

(Thomas Dunne Books)

The book jacket of Bryn Greenwood’s “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.”

Wavy’s dad cooks meth in the trailers down the road from their house. Her mother stays home and alternates between swallowing pills, sleeping and threatening her daughter to keep her mouth closed, which is why Wavy refuses to talk and never eats in front of others.

On Wavy’s 8th birthday (or so she guesses, as there are no recent calendars at her disposal), a biker crashes on the road outside her house. That’s how she meets and falls in love with Kellen, a mechanic sometimes employed by her father. Thus begins Bryn Greenwood’s “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things,” a tangled love story between a growing girl and a man struggling to balance a life littered with crime and his desire to care for a neglected child who saved his life.

Chaos abounds. Wavy raises her baby brother and Kellen runs drugs for Wavy’s dad. Family members slip in and out of the picture along with a cast of junkies.

We hear from Wavy’s cousin who adores her, an aunt on the verge of a breakdown who finds support from her book club, and even her dad’s mistresses. The changing viewpoints add texture to an already riveting story; however, Wavy and Kellen tell a bulk of what happens in their own words, providing an anchor for readers.

Captivating and smartly written from the first page, Greenwood’s work is instantly absorbing. Pithy characters saunter, charge or stumble into each scene via raw, gripping narrative. Greenwood slow-drips descriptions, never giving away everything at once. Rather, she tells her story as if lifting a cloth thread by thread, revealing heartbreaking landscapes and riveting dialogue in perfect timing.

This book won’t pull at heartstrings, but instead yank out the entire organ and shake it.

— Christina Ledbetter


Week ending Aug. 7, 2016.

Hardcover Fiction

1. “Bullseye” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Little, Brown)

2. “Sweet Tomorrows” by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)

3. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

4. “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty (Flatiron Books)

5. “The Black Widow” by Daniel Silva (Harper)

6. “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press)

7. “Dark Carousel” by Christine Feehan (Berkley)

8. “Smooth Operator” by Stuart Woods (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

9. “Magic” by Danielle Steele (Delacorte)

10. “The Girls” by Emma Cline (Random House)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. “Liars” by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions)

2. “Hillary’s America” by Dinseh D’Souza (Regenry Publishing)

3. “Crisis of Character” by Gary J. Byrne (Center Street)

4. “Armageddon” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann (Humanix Books)

5. “Hamilton: The Revolution” by Miranda/McCarter (Grand Central Publishing)

6. “Spartan Fit!” by Joe De Sena (HMH)

7. “Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots” by David Fisher (Holt)

8. “The War on Cops” by Heather MacDonald (Encounter)

9. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance (Harper)

10. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi (Random House)