The Cypress House


By Michael Koryta

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A journey to Florida’s coast becomes an inescapable nightmare in this supernatural thriller from international bestselling author Michael Koryta.

Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before: a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.

When Arlen awakens on a train one hot Florida night and sees death’s telltale sign in the eyes of his fellow passengers, he tries to warn them. Only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill believes him, and the two abandon the train, hoping to escape certain death. They continue south, but soon are stranded at the Cypress House — an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady — directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

The storm isn’t the only approaching danger, though. A much deadlier force controls the county and everyone living in it, and Arlen wants out — fast. But Paul refuses to abandon Rebecca to face the threats alone, even though Arlen’s eerie gift warns that if they stay too long they may never leave. From its chilling beginning to terrifying end, The Cypress House is a story of relentless suspense from “one of the best of the best” (Michael Connelly).


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Part One



THEY'D BEEN ON THE TRAIN for five hours before Arlen Wagner saw the first of the dead men.

To that point it had been a hell of a nice ride. Hot, sure, and progressively more humid as they passed out of Alabama and through southern Georgia and into Florida, but nice enough all the same. There were thirty-four on board the train who were bound for the camps in the Keys, all of them veterans with the exception of the nineteen-year-old who rode at Arlen's side, a boy from Jersey by the name of Paul Brickhill.

They'd all made a bit of conversation at the outset, exchanges of names and casual barbs and jabs thrown around in that way men have when they are getting used to one another, all of them figuring they'd be together for several months to come, and then things quieted down. Some slept, a few started card games, others just sat and watched the countryside roll by, fields going misty with late-summer twilight and then shapeless and dark as the moon rose like a watchful specter. Arlen, though, Arlen just listened. Wasn't anything else to do, because Paul Brickhill had an outboard motor where his mouth belonged.

As the miles and minutes passed, Brickhill alternated between explaining things to Arlen and asking him questions. Nine times out of ten, the boy answered his own questions before Arlen could so much as part his lips with a response. Brickhill had been a quiet kid when the two of them first met months earlier in Alabama, and back then Arlen believed him to be shy. What he hadn't counted on was the way the boy took to talk once he felt comfortable with someone. Evidently, he'd grown damn comfortable with Arlen.

As the wheels hammered along the rails of northern Florida, Paul Brickhill was busy telling Arlen all of the reasons this was going to be a hell of a good hitch. Not only was there the bridge waiting to be built, but all that sunshine and blue water and boats that cost more than most homes. They could do some fishing, maybe catch a tarpon. Paul'd seen pictures of tarpon that were near as long as the boats that landed them. And there were famous people in the Keys, celebrities of every sort, and who was to say they wouldn't run into a few, and…

Around them the men talked and laughed, some scratching out letters to loved ones back home. Wasn't anyone waiting on a letter from Arlen, so he just settled for a few nips on his flask and tried to find some sleep despite the cloaking warmth and the stink of sweating men. It was too damn hot.

Brickhill finally fell silent, as if he'd just noticed that Arlen was sitting with his eyes closed and had stopped responding to the conversation. Arlen let out a sigh, grateful for the respite. Paul was a nice enough kid, but Arlen had never been one for a lot of words where a few would do.

The train clattered on, and though night had settled, the heat didn't break. Sweat still trickled along the small of Arlen's back and held his hair to his forehead. He wished he could fall asleep; these hot miles would pass faster then. Maybe another pull on the flask would aid him along.

He opened his eyes, tugged the lids up sleepily, and saw a hand of bone.

He blinked and sat up and stared. Nothing changed. The hand held five playing cards and was attached to a man named Wallace O'Connell, a veteran from Georgia who was far and away the loudest man in this company. He had his back turned, engaged in his game, so Arlen couldn't see his face. Just that hand of bone.

No, Arlen thought, no, damn it, not another one.

The sight chilled him but didn't shock him. It was far from the first time.

He's going to die unless I can find a way to stop it, Arlen thought with the sad, sick resignation of a man experienced with such things. Once we get down to the Keys, old Wallace O'Connell will have a slip and bash his head in on something. Or maybe the poor bastard can't swim, will fall into those waves and sink beneath them and I'll be left with this memory same as I've been left with so many others. I'd warn him if I could, but men don't heed such warnings. They won't let themselves.

It was then that he looked up, away from Wallace under the flickering lights of the train car, and saw skeletons all around him.

They filled the shadows of the car, some laughing, some grinning, some lost to sleep. All with bone where flesh belonged. The few who sat directly under a light still wore their skin, but their eyes were gone, replaced by whirls of gray smoke.

For a moment, Arlen Wagner forgot to breathe. Went cold and dizzy and then sucked in a gasp of air and straightened in the seat.

They were going to have a wreck. It was the only thing that made a bit of sense. This train was going to derail and they were all going to die. Every last one of them. Because Arlen had seen this before, and knew damn well what it meant, and knew that—

Paul Brickhill said, "Arlen?"

Arlen turned to him. The overhead light was full on the boy's face, keeping him in a circle of brightness, the taut, tanned skin of a young man who spent his days under the sun. Arlen looked into his eyes and saw swirling wisps of smoke. The smoke rose in tendrils and fanned out and framed the boy's head while filling Arlen's with terrible recollections.

"Arlen, you all right?" Paul Brickhill asked.

He wanted to scream. Wanted to scream and grab the boy's arm but was afraid it would be cold slick bone under his touch.

We're going to die. We're going to come off these rails at full speed and pile into those swamp woods, with hot metal tearing and shattering all around us…

The whistle blew out shrill in the dark night, and the train began to slow.

"We got another stop," Paul said. "You look kind of sickly. Maybe you should pour that flask out."

The boy distrusted liquor. Arlen wet his lips and said, "Maybe," and looked around the car at the skeleton crew and felt the train shudder as it slowed. The force of that big locomotive was dropping fast, and now he could see light glimmering outside the windows, a station just ahead. They were arriving in some backwater stop where the train could take on coal and the men would have a chance to get out, stretch their legs, and piss. Then they'd be aboard again and winging south at full speed, death ahead of them.

"Paul," Arlen said, "you got to help me do a bit of convincing here."

"What are you talking about?"

"We aren't getting back on this train. Not a one of us."


THEY PILED OUT OF THE CARS and onto the station platform, everyone milling around, stretching or lighting cigarettes. It was getting on toward ten in the evening, and though the sun had long since faded, the wet heat lingered. The boards of the platform were coated with swamp mud dried and trampled into dust, and out beyond the lights Arlen could see silhouetted fronds lying limp in the darkness, untouched by a breeze. Backwoods Florida. He didn't know the town and didn't care; regardless of name, it would be his last stop on this train.

He hadn't seen so many apparitions of death at one time since the war. Maybe leaving the train wouldn't be enough. Could be there was some sort of virus in the air, a plague spreading unseen from man to man the way the influenza had in '18, claiming lives faster than the reaper himself.

"What's the matter?" Paul Brickhill asked, following as Arlen stepped away from the crowd of men and tugged his flask from his pocket. Out here the sight was enough to set Arlen's hands to shaking—men were walking in and out of the shadows as they moved through the cars and down to the station platform, slipping from flesh to bone and back again in a matter of seconds, all of it a dizzying display that made him want to sit down and close his eyes and drink long and deep on the whiskey.

"Something's about to go wrong," he said.

"What do you mean?" Paul said, but Arlen didn't respond, staring instead at the men disembarking and realizing something—the moment they stepped off the train, their skin slid back across their bones, knitting together as if healed by the wave of some magic wand. The swirls of smoke in their eye sockets vanished into the hazy night air. It was the train. Yes, whatever was going to happen was going to happen to that train.

"Something's about to go wrong," he repeated. "With our train. Something's going to go bad wrong."

"How do you know?"

"I just do, damn it!"

Paul looked to the flask, and his eyes said what his words did not.

"I'm not drunk. Haven't had more than a few swallows."

"What do you mean, something's going to go wrong?" Paul asked again.

Arlen held on to the truth, felt the words heavy in his throat but couldn't let them go. It was one thing to see such horrors; it was worse to try and speak of them. Not just because it was a difficult thing to describe but because no one ever believed. And the moment you gave voice to such a thing was the moment you charted a course for your character that you could never alter. Arlen understood this well, had known it since boyhood.

But Paul Brickhill had sat before him with smoke the color of an early-morning storm cloud hanging in his eyes, and Arlen was certain what that meant. He couldn't let him board that train again.

"People are going to die," he said.

Paul Brickhill leaned his head back and stared.

"We get back on that train, people are going to die," Arlen said. "I'm sure of it."

He'd spent many a day trying to imagine this gift away. To fling it from him the way you might a poisonous spider caught crawling up your arm, and long after the chill lingered on your flesh you'd thank the sweet hand of Providence that you'd been given the opportunity to knock the beast away. Only he'd never been given the opportunity. No, the stark sight of death had stalked him, trailed him relentlessly. He knew it when he saw it, and he knew it was no trick of the light, no twist of bad liquor upon the mind. It was prophecy, the gift of foresight granted to a man who'd never wished for it.

He was reluctant to say so much as a word to any of the other men, knowing the response he'd receive, but this was not the sort of thing that could be ignored.

Speak loud and sharp, he thought, just like you did on the edge of a battle, when you had to get 'em to listen, and listen fast.

"Boys," he said, getting at least a little of the old muster into his tone, "listen up, now."

The conversations broke off. Two men were standing on the step of the train car, and when they turned, skull faces studied him.

"I think we best wait for the next train through," he said. "There's bad trouble aboard this one. I'm sure of it."

It was Wallace O'Connell who broke the long silence that followed.

"What in the hell you talking about, Wagner?" he said, and immediately there was a chorus of muttered agreement.

"Something's wrong with this train," Arlen said. He stood tall, did his damnedest to hold their eyes.

"You know this for a fact?" O'Connell said.

"I know it."

"How do you know? And what's wrong with it?"

"I can't say what's wrong with it. But something is. I got a… sense for these things."

A slow grin crept across O'Connell's face. "I've known some leg-pullers," he said, "but didn't figure you for one of them. Don't got the look."

"Damn it, man, this ain't no joke."

"You got a sense something's wrong with our train, and you're telling us it ain't no joke?"

"Knew a widow back home who was the same way," spoke up another man from the rear of the circle. He was a slim, wiry old guy with a nose crooked from many a break. Arlen didn't know his name—hell, he didn't know most of their names, and that was part of the problem. Aside from Paul there wasn't a man in the group who'd known Arlen for any longer than this train ride.

"Yeah?" O'Connell said. "Trains talked to her, too?"

"Naw. She had the sense, just like he's talking about. 'Cept she got her sights from owls and moon reflections and shit like you couldn't even imagine."

This new man was grinning wide, and O'Connell was matching it. He said, "She was right all the time, of course?"

"Of course," the man said, and let out a cackle. "Why, wasn't but nine year ago she predicted the end of days was upon us. Knew it for a fact. Was going to befall us by that winter. I can't imagine she was wrong, I just figured I missed being raptured up and that's how I ended up here with all you sinful sons of bitches."

The crowd was laughing now, and Arlen felt heat creeping into his face, thoughts of his father and the shame that had chased him from his boyhood home threatening his mind now. Behind him Paul Brickhill was standing still and silent, about the only one in the group who wasn't at least chuckling. There was a man near Wallace O'Connell whose smile seemed forced, uneasy, but even he was going along with the rest of them.

"I might ask for a tug on whatever's in that jug of your'n," O'Connell said. "It seems to be a powerful syrup."

"It's not the liquor you're hearing," Arlen said. "It's the truth. Boys, I'm telling you, I seen things in the war just like I am tonight, and every time I did, men died."

"Men died every damn day in the war," O'Connell said. The humor had drained from his voice. "And we all seen it—not just you. Some of us didn't crack straight through from what we seen. Others"—he made a pointed nod at Arlen—"had a mite less fortitude. Now save your stories for somebody fool enough to listen to them. Rest of us don't need the aggravation. There's work at the end of this line, and we all need it."

The men broke up then, drifted back to their own conversations, casting Arlen sidelong stares. Arlen felt a hand on his arm and nearly whirled and threw his fist without looking, shame and fear riding him hard now. It was only Paul, though, tugging him away from the group.

"Arlen, you best ease up."

"Be damned if I will. I'm telling you—"

"I understand what you're telling us, but it just doesn't make sense. Could be you got a touch of fever, or—"

Arlen reached out and grabbed him by his shirt collar. Paul's eyes went wide, but he didn't reach for Arlen's hand, didn't move at all as Arlen spoke to him in a low, harsh voice.

"You had smoke in your eyes, boy. I don't give a damn if you couldn't see it or if none of them could, it was there, and it's the sign of your death. You known me for a time now, and you ask yourself, how often has Arlen Wagner spoken foolish words to me? How often has he seemed addled? You ask yourself that, and then you ask yourself if you want to die tonight."

He released the boy's collar and stepped back. Paul lifted a hand and wiped it over his mouth, staring at Arlen.

"You trust me, Brickhill?" Arlen said.

"You know I do."

"Then listen to me now. If you don't ever listen to another man again for the rest of your life, listen to me now. Don't get back on that train."

The boy swallowed and looked off into the darkness. "Arlen, I wouldn't disrespect you, but what you're saying… there's no way you could know that."

"I can see it," Arlen said. "Don't know how to explain it, but I can see it."

Paul didn't answer. He looked away from Arlen, back at the others, who were watching the boy with pity and Arlen with disdain.

"Here's one last question for you to ask of yourself," Arlen said. "Can you afford to be wrong?"

Paul stared at him in silence as the train whistle blew and the men stomped out cigarettes and fell into a boarding line. Arlen watched their flesh melt from their bones as they went up the steps.

"Don't let that fool bastard convince you to stay here, boy," Wallace O'Connell bellowed as he stepped up onto the train car, half of his face a skull, half the face of a strong man who believed he was fit to take on all comers. "Ain't nothing here but alligators, and unless you want to be eating them come dinner tomorrow, or them eating you, you best get aboard."

Paul didn't look in his direction. Just kept staring at Arlen. The locomotive was chugging now, steam building, ready to tug its load south, down to the Keys, down to the place the boy wanted to be.

"You're serious," he said.

Arlen nodded.

"And it's happened before?" Paul said. "This isn't the first time?"

"No," Arlen said. "It is not the first time."


THE FIRST TIME Arlen Wagner saw death was in the Belleau Wood. That was the bloodiest battle the Marines had ever encountered, a savage showdown requiring repeated assaults before the parcel of forest and boulders finally fell under American control, and the bodies were piled high by the end. The sight of corpses was not the new experience for Arlen, whose father had served as undertaker in the West Virginia hill town where he was raised, a place where violence, mining accidents, and fever regularly sent men and women Isaac Wagner's way to be fitted into their coffins. No, in the moonlight over the Marne River on a June night in 1918, Arlen saw something far different from a corpse—he saw the dead among the living.

They'd made an assault on the Wood that day, marching through a waist-high wheat field directly into machine-gun fire. For the rest of his life, the sight of tall, windswept wheat would put a shiver through Arlen. Most of the men in the first waves had been slaughtered outright, but Arlen and other survivors had been driven south, into the trees and a tangle of barbwire. The machine guns pounded on, relentless, and those who didn't fall beneath them grappled hand to hand with German soldiers who shouted oaths at them in a foreign tongue while bayonets clashed and knives plunged.

By evening the Marines had sustained the highest casualties in their history, but they also had a hold, however tenuous, in Belleau Wood. Arlen was on his belly beside a boulder as midnight came on, and with it a German counterattack. As the enemy approached he'd felt near certain that this skirmish would be his last; he couldn't continue to survive battles like these, not when so many had fallen all around him throughout the day. That rain of bullets couldn't keep missing him forever.

This was his belief at least, until the Germans appeared as more than shadows, and what he saw then kept him from so much as lifting his rifle.

They were skeleton soldiers.

He could see skulls shining in the pale moonlight where faces belonged, hands of white bone clutching rifle stocks.

He was staring, entranced, when the American gunners opened up. Opened up and mowed them down, sliced the vicious Hun bastards to pieces. All around him men lifted their rifles and fired, and Arlen just lay there without so much as a finger on the trigger, scarcely able to draw a breath.

A trick of the light, he told himself as dawn rose heavy with mist and the smell of cooling and drying blood, the moans of the wounded as steady now as the gunfire had been earlier. What he'd seen was the product of moonlight partnered with the trauma from a day of unspeakable bloodshed. Surely that was enough to wreak havoc on his mind. On anyone's mind.

There were some memories in his head then, of course, some thoughts of his father, but he kept them at bay, and as the sun broke through the mist he'd done a fine job of convincing himself that this was nothing but the most horrifying of hallucinations.

It was midafternoon and the Marines were readying another assault, seeking to push deeper into the Wood, when he turned to two of the men he'd known best over there, known best and liked best, good boys who fought hard, and saw that their eyes were gone. The flesh remained on their faces but their eyes were gone, the sockets filled with gray smoke that leaked out and formed wreaths around their heads.

Both of them were dead within the hour.

For the rest of the war it was like that—bones showing in the night battles, smoke-filled eye sockets smiling at him during the daylight. That promise of death was all he ever got. Never did a ghost linger with him after the last breath rattled out of tortured lungs, never did a phantom version of one of those lost men return in the night to offer him some sense of the reason behind it all. No voices whispered to him in the dark, no invisible hand guided him in battle or menaced him in sleep.

He spoke of it only once, knew immediately from the looks exchanged around him that if he kept telling the tale he'd soon be hospital-bound with all the other poor shell-shocked bastards who gibbered on about things far from the grasp of reality. Arlen kept his mouth shut and kept seeing the same terrible sights.

As the war went on, he discovered some of them could be saved. They would perish if left to fight alone, but if he could keep them down and out of the fire line, sometimes they made it through. Not often enough, though. Not nearly often enough. And there were so, so many of them.

After the armistice the premonitions ceased, and for a time Arlen thought it was done. Then he'd walked into an Army hospital back in the States to visit a buddy and had seen smoke-eyes everywhere he looked, stumbled back out of the place without ever finding his friend. He'd gone to the first speakeasy he could find and tipped whiskey glasses back until his own vision was too clouded and blurred to see smoke even if someone lit a match right in front of his face.

He'd worked in a railyard for a time, had seen a man with bone hands and a gleaming skull face laughing over a joke just minutes before the chains on a log car snapped and he was crushed beneath one of the timbers. The last time Arlen ventured back into West Virginia—it wasn't a place of warm memories and welcoming embraces—he'd gone hunting with a friend from the war who'd turned into a bitter drunk with a stump where his left hand belonged. One-handed or not he'd wanted to go hunting, and Arlen had agreed, then saw the smoke swirling in the man's eye sockets about thirty seconds before he stepped into a snarl of loose brush and a rattlesnake struck him in the calf, just below the knee. Arlen had shot the snake, whose thick coiled body would've gone every bit of five feet stretched out full, and cut the wound to bleed the venom, but still the smoke wouldn't leave those eyes, grew thicker and darker as Arlen dragged his old friend back to town, and he was dead by noon the next day.

So there were incidents, but in this warless world they were far less common, and he worked hard at burying the memories just the same as they'd buried the men who created them. Drinking helped. Even through Prohibition, Arlen always found a way to keep his flask filled.


  • "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
  • "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
  • "Koryta is superb with mood and setting...the simmering tension erupts into a rolling boil by the bloody, spooky, and satisfying ending."—Keir Graff, Booklist
  • "Following up his acclaimed gothic, So Cold the River, Koryta blends gritty noir and ghostly visions in a novel that seems custom-designed for Nicolas "Ghost Rider" Cage. Arlen Wagner, a survivor of bloody battles in Europe, is on a train headed for a work camp in the Florida Keys when he sees smoke coming from the eyes of passengers and skeletons instead of bodies....the novel builds to a richly satisfying climax...A commanding performance in the field of supernatural noir."—Kirkus
  • "Koryta's masterful follow-up to So Cold the River effectively combines supernatural terror with the suffocating fatalism of classic American noir....Koryta excels at describing both scenery and his characters' inner landscapes. It's hard to think of another book with equal appeal to Stephen King and Cornell Woolrich fans."—Publishers Weekly
  • "You'll be hooked from the first sentence of this haunting thriller that twists like a water moccasin through the swamplands of Depression-era Florida, drenched in rain, blood, and evil. Jim Thompson noir with Stephen King spookiness."—Neil McMahon, author of Lone Creek and L.A. Mental
  • "An enthralling novel that easily melds mystery fiction, the supernatural and just a touch of the old-fashioned western and historical novels without losing the conventions of each genre. Yet The Cypress House is so grounded in reality that no plot turn or character rings false. The Cypress House works as a novel about post-war stress, small-town corruption and the dusty Great Depression. Koryta dredges up the dread that festers below the surface of the characters who reside at The Cypress House.... As he did in last year's supernatural-tinged So Cold the River, Koryta again shows his affinity for incorporating varied genres into a cohesive story and, along the way, stretching the boundaries of each."—Oline H. Cogdill, The Olympian, The Modesto Bee , The Sacramento Bee, The Lexington Herald Leader , The Bellingham Herald, and the Kansas City Star
  • "Michael Koryta is mining Stephen King territory [in The Cypress House] and carving out a spot all his own."—Sarah Weinman, Women's World
  • "There is an otherworldly quality to the Depression-era South in Michael Koryta's The Cypress House, and not just because the hero, Arlen Wagner, knows when people are going to die...The depiction of Florida's panhandle, an overgrown back-woods years before developers arrived, and the isolated inn on the gulf Coast beach where Arlen ends up with young Civilian Conservation Corps co-worker Paul Brickhill, are equally eerie....Deftly blending all genres, Koryta balances the scary violence of Judge Solomon Ward and his tame sheriff-a nightmare of despotic small-town lawmen peculiar to a later South-with the sexual currents stirred up among the three people effectively trapped in the house.... However counterintuitive, he makes this curious mix of supernatural prescience and gothic-noir work with a seamless atmospheric certainty."—P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle
  • "A gripping noir thriller-ghost story."—Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times
  • "An enthralling novel that easily melds mystery fiction, the supernatural and just a touch of the old-fashioned western and historical novels without losing the conventions of each genre. Yet The Cypress House is so grounded in reality that no plot turn or character rings false. The Cypress House works as a novel about post-war stress, small-town corruption and the dusty Great Depression. Koryta dredges up the dread that festers below the surface of the characters who reside at "The Cypress House."... Koryta again shows his affinity for incorporating varied genres into a cohesive story and, along the way, stretching the boundaries of each.... Koryta's powerful storytelling depicts believable characters and a view of Old Florida that is seldom seen outside of old postcards."—Oline H. Cogdill, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel
  • "Michael Koryta grabs readers with tales of gripping suspense and just enough touches of the supernatural to keep them nervous on two levels...Koryta does match King for storytelling, and he creates characters who come alive for readers...Koryta, who made the jump for crime writing to crime writing with a twist, knows how to build suspense. He paints dark and dangerous times with hurricanes and murderers threatening Wagner, Brickhill and Rebecca. His thriller is graced with masterly descriptions of the area and the pending storm that is another killer the trio must survive. In his taut and atmospheric story, Koryta keeps readers guessing right up to the end on how things will turn out, especially when Wagner begins to see the signs of death in his own face."—Mary Foster, Associated Press
  • "The second half of The Cypress House picks up steam, building to a seriously tense and twisted final act. With its evocative Gulf Coast setting, the book makes for a warm beach read in midwinter."—Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
  • "A healthy helping of noir crime novel, a swirl of supernatural horror, a spoonful of historical fiction, a dollop of old-time Western and a dash of finely tuned observation of the natural world. But Koryta isn't simply following a recipe. He's a creative chef, capable of crafting a dish greater than the sum of its ordinary parts. As in last year's So Cold the River, he cooks up a suspenseful treat without a lot of empty calories in The Cypress House....when it comes to plot and suspense, he knows what he's doing. He paces the novel masterfully, allowing it to steam for a while, simmer as threads from the past are added to the mix, then come to a rolling boil for the last 100 pages. When violence enters the picture, and it often does, Koryta lets the horror speak for itself rather than exploiting it. His knowledge of the Gulf Coast landscape helps with the novel's credibility but never intrudes on the action....The Cypress House proves that So Cold the River wasn't a one-hit wonder. Koryta... is quickly taking his place among the top American writers of supernatural suspense."—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
  • "The last scenes in the novel...verify Koryta's knack for putting a supernatural spin on the angst depicted in classic noir fiction."—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
  • "The Cypress House begins with pulse-racing promise....[a] delicious setup....sprinting to a filmic, white-knuckled finish."—Andrea Simakis, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

On Sale
May 12, 2011
Page Count
448 pages
Back Bay Books

Michael Koryta

About the Author

Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of 12 suspense novels, including Rise the DarkLast Words, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The ProphetThe Ridge, and So Cold The River.  His work has been praised by Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash, and Scott Smith among many others, and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His books have won or been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Edgar® Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award, Quill Award, International Thriller Writers Award, and the Golden Dagger.

Before turning to writing full-time, Koryta worked as a private investigator, a newspaper reporter, and taught at the Indiana University School of Journalism. Koryta’s first novel, the Edgar-nominated Tonight I Said Goodbye, was accepted for publication when he was 20 years old. He wrote his first two published novels before graduating from college, and was published in nearly 10 languages before he fulfilled the “writing requirement ” classes required for his diploma.

Koryta was raised in Bloomington, Indiana, where he graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Koryta and his wife, Christine, divide their time between Bloomington and Camden, Maine, with a cranky cat named Marlowe, an emotionally disturbed cat named John Pryor (named after the gravestone on which he was found as an abandoned kitten), and a dog of unknown heritage named Lola.


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