Mark Novak is a private investigator for an organization that specializes in death row inmates and unjust convictions and imprisonments. But Novak has been something of a mess – his wife, a fellow investigator, was killed while on assignment, and Novak’s been inconsolable and almost uncontrollable since then. The organization’s board is meeting to discuss his situation, and his boss sends him out of state, ostensibly to check on the author of a strange letter.
The letter has come from Garrison, Indiana, two hours south of Indianapolis. Ridley Barnes is a recluse known for his knowledge of local caves, He had written to Novak, asking him to find out if he had indeed killed a teenager, Sarah Martin, almost 10 years earlier. The girl had gone into a famous local cave and apparently gotten lost. Barnes was utilized to help find her, and he did, three days later. He came out of the cave carrying her dead body, and no memory of how he had found her.
Novak does indeed investigate, and discovers that no one is what they appear to be. Everyone is more involved in the death and the mystery surrounding it than they admit. That includes the sheriff, local hoods, the owner of the cave and his daughter, a local hypnotist, the cave caretaker, and Barnes himself. Novak will find himself kidnapped and left in an obscure area of the cave – in total darkness.
Last Words by thriller and suspense writer Michael Koryta is one chilling story. And it is even more than chilling if you have even the remotest problem with being in dark, confined spaces, like what you find in a cave system.
Koryta is the author of numerous suspense novels, including Rise the Dark, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Prophet, The Ridge, The Cypress House, and So Cold the River. I’ve only read Last Words, but if it’s any indication, then Koryta’s works are marked by a gripping story, riveting action, and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Stephen King is a fan.
Novak will find himself tricked, lied to, drugged, kidnapped, left in the dark (literally), almost dying, and in that cave more than once. The closer he gets to what happened to Sarah Martin, the more he finds himself threatened. And often alone.
Last Words is one wild read.
Top photograph by Davide Cantelli via Unsplash.