I'm a huge fan of Michael Koryta's work. He's published three books to date: Tonight, I Said Goodbye, Sorrow's Anthem, and A Welcome Grave. All three involve two private investigators: Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard. And all three are set in Cleveland. Lincoln is the "youngster," and Joe is the more seasoned, paternal character. They are both former Cleveland Police Officers: Lincoln left the force and Joe retired from it.
In my eyes, one of the things that makes a great crime fiction novel is bringing out the "gray," when decisions are harder than what's "right" and what's "wrong." Have you ever read those books where the hero ALWAYS does the "right" thing. He/she is always honored and adored and never even THINKS of breaking the rules? Come on! Give me a break! Koryta develops the "gray" in both internal and external conflict with his characters. Lincoln's young and brash and wants to take on the world to do what's right - often at any cost. Joe is experienced and wise; he thinks about what the repercussions will be. So they often have different approaches to problems. Rarely is either approach 100% spot on, but together they manage to mesh the best of both personalities and come out alive - not always unblemished, but alive!
Another characteristic of my ideal novel is humor. Koryta knows how to expertly weave humor into his dark settings.
And finally, I'm big on the use of language. There have been many authors I've read or listened to and found myself saying, "really? that's the best you could come up with?" Or, "you say the exact same thing in every situation like that. Can't you find some way to work in some variety?" Koryta knows how to use the English language! And Sorrow's Anthem is a prime example of that. If you read the novel, you will find out exactly what "Sorrow's Anthem" is (I won't give away any spoilers). When I found out I was awe-struck. Those two small words poignantly affect your senses. I can't imagine anyone saying, "I can't picture that"/ "I can't hear that"/ "I can't feel that."
This year he has a fourth novel coming out, but this one veers away from Lincoln and Joe. I'm really looking forward to the release of Envy the Night. It will be available August 5th. I was able to hear the first chapter of this book, and I'm anxious to find out how the rest of the novel progresses.
I'm also looking forward to attending another of Koryta's book-signing events. I had a wonderful experience listening to him speak in November when I went to see him in Rocky River. He's funny, down-to-earth, personable, and interesting. If you have the chance to meet him, I highly recommend doing so. You can check out his website at the link to the right.