Recently I received a copy of a new book called “The Prophet” by Michael Koryta to review at my leisure. That was about three days ago. Today, I finished it. Normally, I am not much of a “review” type of guy, at least not here on this site. I like good books but rarely do I find those that keep my attention after the characters have been introduced and the meat of the story is trying to unfold.
This is not that kind of book.
Set against the backdrop of Ohio High-School football and a championship type season, Michael Koryta weaves a murder mystery that is both compelling, suspenseful, and edge of your seat all at the same time. Koryta uses the analogies of football to intertwine the story lines of two brothers who have long since parted ways following the murder of their sister many years in the past.
Football remains a central component of the story while the world around the game deals with the murder of the young girl. The team, on the verge of an undefeated championship, is coached by one of the brothers who lost their sibling sister. He is the towns folk hero. The diversion from the murder. His brother is a private investigator and bail bondsman. He holds a deep feeling of blame for the past.
Koryta uses his writing ability to keep you suspended in his world and blends the environment perfectly to give you the feel of fall football in Ohio. His descriptions of Ohio football is perfectly visioned. I have played football in both Texas and in Ohio and I can tell you there is a difference in philosophy, attitude, and even those around the towns of each have different approaches to the game and how it is virtually worshiped. Koryta does a great job of describing the Ohio style of the sport.
At it’s core this is a book about retribution, suspense, and mystery. The use of the game of football as the parallel gives the reader something to relate to, make it feel like there is something close and personal about the story. I read the book in only a few days and found it more than what I honestly had hoped it would be. To me it was like reading a Michael Palmer medical mystery with a high-school football program replacing a hospital of research lab.
If you like mysteries, love football, and want an escape then this is a must read book.