The Ridge by Michael Koryta

Kentucky is a state known for many things, but waterfront property is definitely not one of them. It is easy to imagine then the kind of reaction local townspeople had when Wyatt French built a lighthouse on the hilltop of Blade Ridge. While it was definitely an odd architectural choice for the area, people mostly ignored it at regarded its builder as an eccentric drunk.

Years later, local sheriff Kevin Kimble is shocked to learn of French's suicide. He had received a cryptic phone call from French in the hours preceding his death. Upon investigating the lighthouse, Kimble uncovers various documents that chronicle the history of Blade Ridge and more interestingly, the unfortunate events that seem to plague the area. Even stranger is the connection the night Kimble was shot by an abuse victim, years ago. All this evidence seems to point at a larger force of malice, leading Kimble to believe that French may not have been as mad as he seemed.

Roy Darmus is at a crossroads in his life. The local newspaper, to which he has devoted his entire professional life to, has been sold and closed. A storyteller without an audience, he is hungry for the next big scoop to hit the town. When he receives a call from local madman Wyatt French, he is both annoyed and intrigued. A comment about his parents, who died in a car crash at Blade Ridge when he was a small child, lingers in his mind long after he dismisses the call as another useless tip. Hours later, he is at the scene of French's apparent suicide. Craving a new story to tell, he begins to investigate a string of strange occurrences at the ridge.

Audrey Clark is dealing with a transition as well. She is in the process of relocating her large-cat sanctuary, a project began with her late husband, from a location within the city to a larger preserve located at Blade Ridge. Initially she was disturbed by the ravings of her soon to be neighbor Wyatt French, but soon shifted her focus from the strange lighthouse to the relocation process. But strange things are occurring. The cats seem to be fearful of their new home, pacing the cages, growling, and even attempting to escape. When French's suicide brings even more focus to the area, she is determined to successfully house the cats at the new location and fulfill her husband's legacy.

Michael Koryta weaves these different characters into a brilliant tapestry of paranormal suspense. I really appreciated the way all three of the main characters were searching for a new start in their personal lives. The paranormal elements, comparable to Stephen King or Dean Koontz, never overshadow the story. Koryta knows how to wind up a story, providing many moments of true fear. Balancing the supernatural elements with strong human characters and emotions, Koryta has written a fantastic novel.

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

(2013: week 16, book 13)

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