A kind of supernatural noir mixed with an original pulp style that somehow oozes Stephen King at the height of his craft. In a nutshell, THE CYPRESS HOUSE by Michael Koryta is a genre defying piece of fiction that could easily have been passed off as a Stephen King novel - a complement and testament to Koryta's ability. The supernatural blend seamlessly into the world of 1930's American crime.
There's a rural feel and distinct sense of isolation throughout THE CYPRESS HOUSE. Arlen Wagner can sense imminent death amongst people he comes in direct contact with - a gift and a curse at the same time. His father had the same ability, one that additionally allowed him to speak to the dead - something which Arlen struggled to come to terms with throughout his life.
Led by a series of events courtesy of Arlen's ability, he, and 19yr old Paul Brickhill find themselves stranded at the isolated Cypress House, a boarding house on the Gulf Coast, just as a powerful storm hits, the wind kicking up long kept secrets as dangerous as the rising tide and flying debris.
Rebbecca Cady, a beautiful women with a brother in jail and a murdered father is both strong willed and struggling to maintain control of the criminal situation she so finds herself. The arrival of Arlen and Paul, while unexpected provides a glimmer of hope, a way to potentially sever the ties that hold her to the corrupt and mobbed-up lawmen of Corridor County.
I enjoyed THE CYPRESS HOUSE. It was vastly different from the PI novels I'd previously read by Koryta in TONIGHT I SAID GOODBYE and SORROWS ANTHEM and reminded me of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The supernatural element was there, however I would've loved to have seen more of that within the Cypress House as apposed to Arlen's plan to foil a drug run and commit murder. That said, there was a lot to like about THE CYPRESS HOUSE and I'll certainly be tracking down more of Koryta's supernatural/horror novels.