The Prophet by Michael Koryta is first and foremost, a story about brothers. Adam and Kent Austin are just teenagers when their happy, stable, normal family is torn apart, and their lives are forever changed.
One cold afternoon in the small town of Chambers Ohio, Adam, the oldest of three children, makes the ill-fated decision to spend time with his girlfriend instead of taking his little sister home as planned, leaving her make the walk alone. When his brother Kent – nicknamed Franchise – reminds him of his responsibilities he snaps irritably “It’s five F#%*ing blocks Franchise, She’ll make it”.
But 16 year old Marie never makes it home.
Two decades later, Adam and Kent, no longer on speaking terms, still live in Chambers. Kent has a family of his own and has created a solid life for himself as the small town’s beloved and well respected football coach. In contrast, Adam is a bail bondsman, living on the fringes of society, unable to let go of the guilt he feels at his sister’s horrific and untimely death.
When another teenage girl turns up dead, 22 years after the first, the brothers, both haunted in their own way, find themselves inexplicably pulled into the investigation and despite their fractured and complicated relationship, they are drawn together into a chilling game of cat and mouse.
For one brother it is a chance at redemption, but for the other it is so much more.
The Prophet is a deliciously dark book, suspenseful until the very last page. Although it is a thriller – and a great one at that – it is the relationship between the brothers that makes it excellent. As the story unfolds, it is the sadness, anger and desperation of the two broken men that keeps you riveted, and their emotional transformation as they navigate the horror of the second murder – all the while lost in their memories of the first – is tragic and beautiful at once.
Michael Koryta has just found his way into my list of favourite authors.
Available now: Hachette RRP$29.99