How It Happened by Michael Koryta

"I will not tell you how it happened but it is all wrong."

Years ago, I discovered Michael Koryta through his supernatural driven thriller So Cold the River. I instantly devoured his other paranormal suspense novels including The Cypress House and The Ridge. I was especially impressed with the way Koryta allowed his character's development to drive his narratives, even when they were filled with suspense that could have easily dominated the story. When I got the chance to read and review his latest effort How It Happened, I enthusiastically accepted.

Rob Barrett is an expert and finding the truth. As an FBI investigator, he is well known for extracting confessions from hard-to-crack suspects. He's recently returned to the rural seaside community that he was raised in to help find the truth behind the brutal murders of two young residents. Barrett's past includes lingering questions about his mother's untimely death years ago, the harsh upbringing by his verbally and emotionally abusive grandfather, and an unwavering commitment to discovering the truth.

Kimberly Crepeaux is not known for her honesty. With a rap sheet of teenage pregnancy, heroin addiction, and numerous stints in prison, her reputation around town couldn't be worse. It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her when she is arrested again, but what she has to say this time stops everyone in their tracks. Kimberly tells the story of her involvement in the gruesome murders of the two young townspeople. A night of drug fueled joy riding turned dark when their car stuck a girl. Terrified of the consequences of their actions, the group brutally killed the car-stuck girl and her boyfriend and dumped their bodies in a nearby pond.

Despite her troubled reputation, Barrett believes Kimberly when she describes that night. She speaks with a sincerity or regret and shock at her actions. There is a haunted glimmer of anguish behind her tired eyes. Barrett is quick to accept the confession as fact and hinge the investigation and his entire career upon it. This is the break the case needed. This is the source of closure to two grieving families. This is how it happened. But suddenly it isn't. The pond is searched and the bodies are not there. An anonymous tip quickly leads to the discovery of the bodies some 200 miles away. Desperate to save his professional reputation and ease the disappointment of his home town, Barrett rallies to find the truth of how it happened.

On first glance, How It Happened is vastly different from the previous novels by Koryta. Gone are the supernatural elements that permeated those earlier works. Instead the characters in this novel are haunted by events that are all too real. I was immediately intrigued by the gruesome confession that Kimberly provides. The novel opens with her words, providing a chilling prelude to the dark and suspenseful events that follow. By setting the novel in Barrett's home town, Koryta allows the character to gain layers of depth from interactions with people from his past and flashbacks to his childhood. The novel deftly layers the mystery with contemplations on grief, addiction, reputation, and small town relationships. How It Happened is destined to be a must-read this summer, and serves as a legacy cementing achievement in Koryta's already stellar career.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2018, 20)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 and is filed under ,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

6 Responses to “How It Happened by Michael Koryta”

  1. Shazam! You've convinced me that I need this one, but I love the idea of paranormal thrillers so I'm adding this author to my library list.

    Great review, Ethan!

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    1. I’ve yet to read one of his books that I didn’t enjoy!

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  2. I actually thought this was a debut! I didn't realise how prolific he's been -- and this sounds *so good*.

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    1. It really is a great one. He’s definitely an author worthy of more attention.

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  3. Oooh, sounds creepy (in a realistic way)! O.O ;)

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    1. There were certainly some great creepy moments!

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