I listened to The Cypress House as an audio book without knowing much about the story. This is my favorite way to enjoy a book – letting it carry me along without expectations. There are certainly books that I can predict a little bit because of previous experience, such as in a series, or in the case of a Stephen King book – I expect them to be good. But there is something to be said for the naked reading of an unknown story and allowing it to unfold in its unpredictable fashion.
The Cypress House by Michael Koryta is a great story. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you like you can click here for the publishers summary. There is a touch of supernatural, a lot of mystery, heroics and romance; the ghosts of the past intruding on the lives of the characters. Set during the Great Depression, Arlan and Paul are workers on one of the many public works projects designed to rejuvinate Americans and break the Depression. Their travel brings them to Florida right before a terrible hurricane, and sets off a series of suspenseful twists and turns that cut open the underbelly of 1930s corruption and criminal enterprise. The novel includes history, empathy and some weirdness that is so unbelievable it is somehow easily acceptable. Arlan is an old fashioned man’s man who might remind you of your grandpa – no nonsense, hard working, dedicated, but loving and caring under the tough calluses and rough edges.
The story unfolds in such a way as to bring you back, revealing a peek at a time and allowing you the reader to put together the pieces of the multiple mysteries at a pace that is quick yet deliberate. The story builds to a crescendo with an unexpected twist and then falls into a satisfying resolution. In a nutshell, it was great.