Critics and readers alike love Michael Koryta, author of three finely-crafted detective novels featuring Lincoln Perry. Now, Koryta has written his first stand-alone novel, one with a protagonist every bit as well-drawn as Perry — only darker. Frank Temple III is the main character of Envy the Night (it may be a bit of a stretch to call him the “hero”), and if you’re a fan of noir fiction, you’ll want to see him again.
Temple has spent the past seven years as a drifter, but no amount of travel can take away the shame his father left behind. His Dad, Frank Temple Jr., had been a highly-decorated U.S. Marshal before a cataclysmic event led him to the other side of the law. An old acquaintance named Devin Matteson lured Frank Jr. into becoming a contract killer. Matteson later gave Frank Jr. up to the FBI, and Frank committed suicide to avoid prosecution. That was when Frank III, then 17, learned of his father’s profession.
Now, Frank III has received a phone call telling him that the man responsible for his father’s death is on his way to the isolated Wisconsin lake that was once the Temple family’s paradise. Frank decides to meet Devin Matteson at the compound and greet him in the only way that seems appropriate — with a bullet.
When Frank arrives at the lake cabin of his childhood, he discovers a beautiful woman and a nervous, armed man occupying it. They are running from two professional assassins, who are not far behind. With his father’s arch-nemesis and a separate pair of killers converging on his idyllic former home, Frank has to rely on all his smarts, cunning, and childhood lessons to survive. He has learned quite a bit at the feet of dear old Dad, and now he’s ready to apply what he’s learned.
“Envy the Night,” new in paperback, won the 2008 L.A. Times Book Prize for best mystery/thriller. The Lincoln Perry series has earned a host of award nominations as well. With this latest entry, Koryta cements his reputation as one of the finest young writers of American crime fiction. As much as I enjoy the Lincoln Perry series, I hope Frank Temple III will be back in future novels. Read “Envy the Night,” and you’ll hope so as well.