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Cover image for Last words
Last words

First edition.
New York, NY : Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
Physical Description:
420, 10 pages ; 25 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 1.
General Note:
Includes excerpt from author's next book, "Echoes", at the end of the book.
Grieving the death of his wife, private investigator Mark Novak reluctantly accepts a case from a suspected murderer who may or may not be innocent. Novak knows all too well that some crimes never get solved. But it's not often that the man who many believe got away with murder is the one calling for the case to be reopened. Ten years ago, a teenage girl disappeared inside an elaborate cave system beneath rural farmland. Days later, Ridley Barnes emerged, carrying Sarah Martin's lifeless body. Barnes has claimed all along that he has no memory of exactly where--or how--he found Sarah. His memory of whether she was dead or alive at the time is equally foggy. Tired of living under a cloud of suspicion, he says he wants answers--even if they mean he'll end up in the electric chair. But what's he really up to?


Call Number
Koryta, M.
Koryta, M.
KORYTA Michael
Koryta, M.

On Order



From New York Times bestselling author Michael Koryta, a page-turning thriller in which the most likely suspect in a long-closed murder case asks for it to be reopened-- at any cost

Markus Novak just wants to come home. An investigator for a Florida-based Death Row defense firm, Novak's life derailed when his wife, Lauren, was killed in the midst of a case the two were working together. Now he's been all but banished, sent to Garrison, Indiana to assess a cold case that he's certain his boss has no intention of taking.

Ten years ago, a teenage girl disappeared inside an elaborate cave system beneath rural farmland. Days later, Ridley Barnes emerged carrying Sarah Martin's lifeless body. Barnes has claimed all along that he has no memory of exactly where -- or how -- he found Sarah, or if she was alive when he found her. Tired of living under a cloud of suspicion, he says he wants answers -- even if they mean he'll end up in the electric chair.

If Novak wants any chance of returning to the life and career he left behind in Florida, he'll need to find the truth in Garrison first.

Author Notes

While still in high school, Michael Koryta worked as a newspaper reporter and for a private investigator. His first book, Tonight I Said Goodbye, was published when he was twenty-one years old and an undergraduate at Indiana University. It won the Great Lakes Book Award for best mystery. Envy the Night won the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best mystery/thriller. He is the author of the Lincoln Perry series and teaches at the Indiana University School of Journalism.

Koryta's book Those Who Wish Me Dead made the Nwe York Time bestseller list in 2014.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This moving series launch from bestseller Koryta (Those Who Wish Me Dead) illustrates why he's among today's top thriller writers. PI Mark Novak has not done well since his wife, Lauren, was murdered on her way to an interview on behalf of the Florida firm that specializes in exonerating death-row inmates for which the couple worked. Two years later, Mark, who's at risk of being fired by that firm, receives an unusual request. Ridley Barnes, an eccentric cave explorer, wants him to look into the decade-old murder of 17-year-old Sarah Martin, who disappeared inside Trapdoor Caverns in Garrison, Ind. Barnes was a prime suspect in that case, though he was never charged. The tragedy plunged the town into an economic depression after the cave's owners sealed it, cutting off the tourist trade. In Garrison, Mark encounters people who refuse to talk-and violence. Koryta sensitively portrays regret and grief while plunging the reader into exciting, claustrophobic scenes deep inside the massive cave. Author tour. Agent: David Hale Smith, Inkwell Management. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

A decade ago, a 17-year-old girl was found dead, beaten and handcuffed, after disappearing inside an Indiana tourist cave. Private investigator Mark Novak's career, and well-being, may depend on his ability to solve this cold case. Novak works for a pro bono Florida firm that specializes in exonerating death-row inmates. They've been asked to look into this small-town killing by the man many people think committed the crime, Ridley Barnes, an oddball caver who may have motives besides clearing his name in contacting them. He found young Sarah Martin after disappearing inside the cave himself for an extended time and emerging with her dead body while in a hypothermic, manic state. Novak's bosses have assigned him this back-burner case not out of any real interest in it but to give him a chance to regain his bearings. He has been acting erratically since the murder of his wife (and co-worker) two years ago. Novak thinks he'll be in and out of town in a day or two, but the more he uncovers about the townspeopleand the more he's subjected to scare tactics and violencethe deeper into the case he digs. The best and most suspenseful parts of the book by far are the ones set underground, particularly the scene in which bad guys drug and strip Novak and deposit him inside the cave. Koryta evokes the pitch-dark, damp, bone-cold setting so well, it's easy to share the claustrophobia and eerie visions the character experiences. Unfortunately, the plot feels forced; lacking in standout characters, it doesn't create anywhere near the sustained tension of Koryta's terrific previous efforts, Those Who Wish Me Dead (2014) and The Prophet (2012). In its use of cave settings, Koryta's latest thriller is ingenious and gripping, but those scenes can't make up for patches of plodding storytelling. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Koryta's remarkable ability to imbue nature with supernatural hostilities is unnervingly visible in this well-plotted cold-case thriller featuring a cast of aptly bizarre, inscrutable characters. Innocence, Incorporated, investigator Mark Novak is dispatched to Garrison, Indiana, when Ridley Barnes asks the company, which specializes in exoneration, to help him determine whether he murdered Sarah Martin. The popular teenager died while held captive deep underground in the mostly unexplored Trapdoor Caverns. Although no evidence was found to warrant Barnes' arrest, the townspeople grew convinced of the expert spelunker's guilt after he claimed he couldn't remember where he found Sarah's body and insisted that the cave communicated with him as if it were alive. Novak's own hostile encounter with Barnes convinces him that Barnes is a killer toying with the police. Then a humiliating news report spotlights a glaring mistake in Novak's investigation and changes everything. Another tense thriller from the consistently entertaining Koryta.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2015 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Still mourning his wife's violent and unsolved murder two years ago, Mark Novak is an investigator for a group that helps wrongly convicted death row inmates. He's sent to the small town of Garrison, IN, because his firm received a letter from -Ridley Barnes asking for help. Ridley hasn't been convicted and is not on death row, but he is suspected of killing a teenager in the Trapdoor Caverns a decade ago. Unable to remember the events that led him to carrying out the dead girl's body, Ridley wants to know what really happened, even if it means him going to jail. But Mark soon realizes he has been lied to and set up to look like a fool. After more entanglements, including a near-death experience in the cave where the girl died, Mark is determined to uncover the truth. VERDICT With each book, the talents of New York Times best-selling author Koryta (The Prophet) just get better. His latest is sure to please his readers and fans of John Connolly. [See Prepub Alert, 3/2/15.]-Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll., Elkhorn Lib., WI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.