The Prophet by Michael Koryta

The Prophet by Michael Koryta
Little, Brown/August 7th, 2012

Adam Austin hasn’t spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town’s criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.
Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent’s team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share of hardships.
Just before playoffs begin, the town and the team are thrown into shock when horrifically, impossibly, another teenage girl is found murdered. When details emerge that connect the crime to the Austin brothers, the two are forced to unite to stop a killer-and to confront their buried rage and grief before history repeats itself again.

When a young girl comes into Adam Austin’s bail bonds office, he has no concept of how young she really is. He thinks she’s college age, but she’s actually a high school girl that claims to have been in touch with her incarcerated father, and now he’s out, and she wants to visit him. The only problem is, she says, is that he won’t tell her exactly where he’s staying. In his letters, however, he mentions he’s staying in a rental home and names the property owner. All the girl wants is an address. Adam pushes back all of his misgivings about giving her the information, thinking she would be better off not making contact, and finds the address for her. When he hears she has been murdered, Adam takes it upon himself to find her killer, giving him the name of his sister”s killer so many years ago. See, Adam blames himself for his sister’s death, and he’s not going to let this guy get away. Not even if he has to make sure of that himself.

When The Prophet started, I thought I knew where it was going. As it peels back the layers of Kent and Adam’s lives and motivations, I really, really thought I knew what was going to happen. As it turns out, I didn’t. Seems pretty straightforward at first. Adam sends this girl to that house, where instead of reuniting with her father, she is killed. Adam feels responsible for her death, much like he still feels responsible for his sister’s death, when he was still in high school. Adam is the big brother, and he takes everything, and I mean everything, on his broad shoulders. He’s not about to let this one get away. Adam still lives in the house that they grew up in and has preserved their sister’s room down to every detail. He also talks to her on a regular basis as he sits in her room, watching the sun bounce off of the stain glass figures she so painstakingly created. Adam is most thoroughly haunted by his sister, and when details start coming to light about Kent, and his possible connection to the killer, Adam realizes there’s much more to this story, and Kent is equally determined to put things right.

On the surface, The Prophet is a thriller, but at its heart, it’s a story about revenge, redemption, and the power of love and family. The twists and turns will keep you turning the pages, but the love between these brothers will break your heart. Also, if you’re a football fan, you’re in for a treat, because there are plenty of passages detailing the exploits of the high school team that Kent coaches, and even if you don’t give a wit about football, you’ll find yourself sucked in to the drama, because it’s that drama that drives Kent, and the urgency of the writing during these passages is addicting and impossible to ignore. The Prophet is a barnburner of a novel, cutting a swath through families and lives with a razor sharp quickness. It will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out, and you’ll love every minute of it. Michael Koryta is hugely talented writer, and The Prophet is not to be missed!

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