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The Silent Hour - Review

I was one of the very few people who was not bowled over by last year's ENVY THE NIGHT. I think the general consciousness was that this was Mr. Koryta's best book. I am generous, I think, with my contrary opinion on books that others love. I place the blame at my feet with a forlorn sigh of 'I didn't get it.' Its not that my opinion matters so little its more that my opinion should matter very little to you. In any case, I'm not really interested in rehashing that book here. I bring it up as a frame for a larger discussion of THE SILENT HOUR.

I generally find that recent history with an author plays a very significant role in the success of a book. I don't take a work on it's own. THE SILENT HOUR is judged against every other book Mr. Koryta's has written.. ENVY THE NIGHT may very well have been a great book, but read in the afterglow of the terrific A WELCOME GRAVE, it suffered.

So where does this leave THE SILENT HOUR? Low expectations, coupled with a review and a reviewer complete untethered from reality at this point places THE SILENT HOUR is Mr. Koryta's best. I can tell you when the moment struck me. It was early in the book when Lincoln Perry is wandering the abandoned grounds of Whispering Ridge. Whispering Ridge was home to Alexandra and Joshua Cantrell and was also a kind of half way house to violent criminals. The thrust of THE SILENT HOUR deals with how Whispering Ridge was abandoned and what happened to the Cantrell's. It is in this sequence where Mr. Koryta's writing really shines. The past is not a series of events to be untangled, but a character to be understood. Mr. Koryta is able to bring the past to the fore and show it not as a far off place but a ghost that inhabits every good and evil thing we do today.

Another aspect of this book to be praised is the pleasingly convoluted ending. There is a balancing act between a piece of fiction and the reader. A reality fallacy exists in this moment where we crave justice and reality in equal amounts. Answers are never easy and always in short supply in the real world. Crime Fiction demands understanding of the who and why. Mr. Koryta is able to dirty the water quite successfully here. There is a resolution, but again it is due to Mr. Koryta's skill that the answers offered hold no comfort. They are sad, devastating and meaningless. THE SILENT HOUR is one of the best books of 2009.

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