Title: Those Who Wish Me Dead
Author: Michael Koryta
2014 – Fiction – Thriller
The Story: After Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he becomes a critical witness and must be protected. With the killers hot on his trail, he is sent to the mountains to participate in a summer survival program that will take him off the grid. But his pursuers are willing to mow down anyone who gets in their way, leaving his protectors to grapple with the choice between protecting him and protecting themselves.
The Opening Line: On the last day of Jace Wilson’s life, the fourteen-year-old stood on a quarry ledge staring at cool, still water and finally understood something his mother had told him years before: Trouble might come for you when you showed fear, but trouble double-downed when you lied about being afraid.
Thoughts: This was a surprisingly fantastic read! I really enjoy thrillers and novels with a lot of suspense and plenty of twists – and this had it all. From the very beginning, I began to suspect that all wasn’t as it seemed, and that feeling only grew and grew as I progressed through the book.
The Blackwell brothers, our two killers, are methodical and cold. They really intrigued me from the beginning, with their odd conversations and lack of emotion. The very definition of the unseen shadow that haunts you when you least expect it, the brothers are brutal, unfeeling, and linear in their pursuit. Even with Jace being off the grid and well-protected, I couldn’t help but be terrified as the brothers slowly but surely narrowed the distance.
The book also surprised me with its unexpected tearjerker moments. Koryta wrote Jace as a really sympathetic character, and I found my heart breaking for him as he grappled with what no child should ever have to face, the possibility that no matter what the adults in his life have promised, that may not be enough to stop his pursuers. He may die brutally at their hands anyway. His relationships with other characters and the ways they step in to try to help him are breathtaking and lovely.
This might be one of my biggest surprise favorites of the year so far. Seriously, it is so good!