Book Review: The Cypress House

World War I veteran Arlen Wagner has a most unusual gift, he can see who is going to die before it happens and while this ability has caused him plenty of problems, it has also saved his life from time to time. Traveling by train with his friend Paul Brickhill to a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Florida, Arlen realizes the passengers are doomed and in an attempt to dodge their fate, the two men get off before a hurricane hits. In the wake of the hurricane, Arlen and Paul find themselves working on a damaged tavern in the small fishing community of Cypress House. When bodies start turning up, the local police and judge decide Arlen and Paul are perfect fall guys and proceed to orchestrate events to back their claims. As Arlen works on building a relationship with tavern owner Rebecca Cady who has her fair share of secrets, he knows it is past time to leave the corrupt town behind but with Paul’s life on the line, must make difficult choices that may cost him everything.

Koryta’s slow moving suspense is satisfyingly creepy as it centers on corrupt, small town public officials, deceptions, evil and affairs of the heart. Clearly, the supernatural has some stiff competition when placed alongside men who will stop at nothing to turn a buck or protect themselves. The protagonists have just enough flaws to be believable while the antagonists are nasty enough to make the skin crawl. If you enjoyed Koryta’s earlier book, So Cold the River you’ll love this finely crafted offering that will raise goose bumps as you lower the blinds.

 

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