Those Who Wish Me Dead | Michael Koryta

When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

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How was it? Within the first sentences of this book I was captivated. Jace makes a great first character to latch on two. This 14 years old boy’s story starts off so innocently that it pulls you in, and despite knowing that something will go wrong at some point it still comes as a shock when it does. From then on the story gets darker as it develops, more characters are introduced, and an intriguing, suspenseful plot is weaved.

The characters we meet along the way, Ethan, and his wife Allison, are the reason why Jace – who’s hiding in plain sight – ends up in Montana in this wilderness skill program for troubled youth. Having that region of the U.S. has a backdrop for a crime mystery thriller adds beauty – in the way the land is described – and danger – because a wild and beautiful area like this can be ominous very fast. I’ve never been in that part of the U.S. and Koryta took me there in this book. I am both wary and excited to go. The location doesn’t just conjure up vivid imagery, we meet a bunch of characters along the way that give more depth to the story. Hannah, Ethan, Allison, and the Blackwell brothers make the story riveting. They paint a fuller picture of what’s going on, add tension and really make this a thrilling suspenseful story. By the way the Blackwell brothers were chilling, scary dudes, and effective in making me believe they would get through anything or anyone to get that boy.

Like most suspense thrillers, this book has a bunch of surprises, they are great and keep things exciting. However there is one twist that had me do a figurative double take. It came out of nowhere, which is what surprises and twists, do but this one didn’t make sense to me while reading this book. I’m not going to spoil it but it turns some of the steps the Blackwell brothers took in tracking down Jace in Montana unnecessary. What seemed brilliant in the stops they made once they were “in town” obsolete. If you know what I’m talking about please comment.

This story is also a bit of a serious game, part fun, part survival class. I really felt like knowledge on survival skills was being uploaded into my brain – not sure how long it’ll last – but while I was engrossed and entertained I learned a few thing.

So Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta is a suspenseful, twisty, and captivating story with great characters, useful knowledge, and a bittersweet ending. The one twist I alluded to is a bit of a misstep for me but it doesn’t negate my enjoyment of the story. I am excited to see how it will be adapted to the screen.

Have you read this book or will you read it before the movie comes out on May 14, 2021? The audiobook is actually well worth a listen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is available on Amazon, Audible, The Book Depository and other book retailers near you.

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