Categorized | Features

The Prophet, by Michael Koryta

The Prophet is no ordinary crime thriller. Granted, the two murders are central to the plot, but Koryta goes well beyond the standard “good guy; bad guy” devices and adds layer upon layer of complex character development that centres on brothers Adam and Kent Austin.
They are both football players. Years ago in high school Adam was the big tough guy who broke through the line, clearing a path for the ball carrier. Younger brother Kent was less aggressive. Years later, Adam lives fast and loose as a bail bondsman who tracks down criminals who don’t show up for court appearances and Kent is now the the football coach, who plans every move his team makes . . . and runs his life the same way.
Football looms large in this novel. There are pages and pages of detailed descriptions of practice sessions and games. It may well be that Koryta has chosen to use football as a metaphor for life and all its complexities. It is certainly a central theme. Another is guilt.
The setting is the town of Chambers, once the home of thriving iron work factories, now largely empty, a place where only high school football provides any community spirit.
The plot begins with the murder of high school student Rachel Bond. Adam, who has unwittingly played a minor role in her death, becomes obsessed with finding, and killing, the man responsible. Much of his willingness to go to any lengths to achieve this end dates back 20 years to the death of younger sister Marie, for which he feels responsible.
Brother Kent stays focussed on football, but is nonetheless drawn into the events surrounding Rachel’s death. As we draw closer to a resolution, it becomes clear that Kent will have to deal, not only with the death of Rachel, but that of his sister.
This is an excellent novel. Complex, and carefully crafted. Koryta knows his job and does it well. He is a former newspaper reporter.