Review

The Silent Hour: A Lincoln Perry Mystery

by Michael Koryta

Known and revered for his Lincoln Perry novels almost
immediately from the publication of TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE, Michael
Koryta took a momentary break from the series and its Cleveland
area environs with 2008’s ENVY THE NIGHT. If you skipped that
book because of the change of locale to Wisconsin and the absence
of Perry, I would urge you to go back and read it. There are
passages that will resonate far after you’ve turned the last
page. That having been said, Perry’s return in THE SILENT
HOUR is most welcome.

I spent my formative years in the Cleveland area in the 1960s
and 1970s; it was a great time and place if you loved rock music
and the trappings that went along with it. Its fortunes have risen
and fallen a number of times since then, but no matter what
happens, it seems informed by an ennui that never leaves ---
infusing not only the city proper once one gets beyond the
outskirts of downtown, but also some of the tonier suburbs such as
Chagrin Falls and Rocky River. Koryta captures this feeling
perfectly through Lincoln Perry, an ex-cop turned private
investigator who isn’t exactly sure that this is what he
wants to be. Perry’s state of mind results from the fact that
his job brings the people around him into jeopardy, whether it be
Joe, his partner in their investigation firm, Perry’s
girlfriend Amy, or occasionally his clients. It has also brought
Perry a degree of notoriety, by turns welcome and unwelcome --- and
it is the latter in THE SILENT HOUR that brings Parker Harrison to
Perry’s door.

Harrison is a convicted murderer who, upon release, was a
resident of Whisper Ridge, a hauntingly beautiful but unusual home
that housed a unique program for paroled murderers like Harrison.
It was the brainchild of Alexandra Sanabria Cantrell, the daughter
of a deceased Mafia don. Reluctantly aided by her husband Joshua,
Alexandra had operated the erstwhile halfway house on the theory
that its rural setting would aid violent offenders in their efforts
to keep their darker sides in check. After a little more than three
years, however, the Cantrells disappeared, apparently abandoning
the program and the house, which has sat deserted and neglected for
over a decade. Harrison wants to retain Perry for the purpose
of locating the long-missing Alexandra; Perry is reluctant,
even resistant, to do so, in part because of his basic distrust of
Harrison at first sight.

Nevertheless, Perry begins an investigation and almost
immediately discovers two things. The first is that someone has
been paying the property taxes on the Cantrell house, which has
never been sold. The second is that the decomposed body of Joshua
was discovered in rural Pennsylvania at almost the exact time that
Harrison began his attempts to locate Alexandra. Furious with
Harrison and himself, Perry fires his client. Yet he is drawn back
into the matter by a number of individuals, including a sincere but
only semi-competent investigator who attempted to find Joshua when
he first disappeared; a hardened Pennsylvania police investigator
whose jurisdiction was the site of the discovery of Joshua’s
body; and a former FBI agent who is obsessed with the Sanabria
crime family, particularly Dominic, Alexandra’s brother.
Perry wishes to be left alone, not wanting to visit the trouble
that is surely coming upon Amy and the semi-retired Joe. But the
case tugs at him, and pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place
even as tragic events, past and present, are revealed as well.

Many surprises are uncovered here, and this continues until
practically the last page, where the law of unintended consequences
is laid bare for all to see. Koryta emerged fully formed as a major
talent in the mystery genre with his debut novel, and with each new
work he continues to exceed the promises made by its predecessors.
THE SILENT HOUR is not to be missed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

The Silent Hour: A Lincoln Perry Mystery
by Michael Koryta

  • Publication Date: August 3, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312389574
  • ISBN-13: 9780312389574