Share This Page

Koryta's latest is thrilling adventure

| Saturday, June 14, 2014, 5:38 p.m.
This book cover image released by Little, Brown and Company shows 'Those Who Wish Me Dead,' by Michael Koryta. (AP Photo/Little, Brown and Company)

Michael Koryta's latest novel skillfully melds a thrilling adventure story set against the Montana wilderness with a poignant coming-of-age story.

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” moves at a brisk pace as Koryta weaves in themes of redemption, survival and grief to illustrate how ethical choices can reverberate.

Teen Jace Wilson is spending the afternoon jumping in the pool of an abandoned quarry near his Indiana home when he dives next to a dead body. Jace then witnesses two men in police uniforms dragging a man to the quarry and killing him. Jace escapes, but leaves behind his identification and clothes, which the men find. To keep him safe, former U.S. marshal turned security expert Jamie Bennett places Jace in a Montana wilderness training program for troubled teens run by survival expert Ethan Serbin.

To protect Jace, Ethan won't know which of the seven boys he is. Witness protection doubling as wilderness training is a logical idea for Ethan, who found his own salvation in the woods when he was on the path to becoming a juvenile delinquent. It was more than just being able to build a fire, Ethan knew; it was the self-confidence that survival skills had given him and the teens in his charge that could translate into any situation, rural or urban. “... a candle of self-confidence, it could accomplish great things,” Ethan remembers.

In the woods, Jace begins moving toward adulthood. His maturation — and Ethan's skills — will be tested when the two killers make their way into the wilderness.

Koryta's vivid Montana landscape scenes pulsate with the smells and sounds of the great outdoors. His three-dimensional characters realistically explore the choices they are forced to make as the author keeps the plot twisting with believable turns. Even as he matures in this high-stakes situation, Jace retains the persona of a teenager. It would be easy to make caricatures of the killers, with their odd speaking patterns and creepy stares, cutting a swath of violence, but Koryta is careful to make these murderous brothers frighteningly real.

The author's affinity for sculpting enthralling stories continues in “Those Who Wish Me Dead.”

Oline H. Cogdill is a contributing writer for the Associated Press.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.