From Michael Koryta, a top-notch thriller set on the coast of Maine

How It Happened is a top-notch thriller.

The ingredients of a top-notch thriller include:

  • an opening scene that grabs attention;
  • believable characters who act in plausible ways;
  • a steady drumbeat of revelations that build suspense;
  • and a fiendishly complex plot that is only resolved as the novel comes to a close.

The latest thriller from Michael Koryta, How It Happened, fits the bill in all these respects.


How It Happened by Michael Koryta (2018) 368 pages

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)


As the novel opens, a young woman named Kimberly (Kimmy) Crepeaux is confessing to taking part in a pair of gruesome murders. Rob Barrett, the FBI agent sent to Maine to interview her, has finally found his patience paying off. Now, after two months of interrogating Kimmy, he finally understands what happened. Or does he?

When Rob and his local partner, Lieutenant Don Johansson of the Maine State Police, go to a nearby pond to uncover the bodies, there are no bodies to be found. Rob’s expertise is confessions, and he is absolutely convinced Kimmy is telling the truth. But the missing bodies represent the only evidence to substantiate the story she tells. Now what?

Things go from bad to worse for Rob as word spreads throughout town that Kimmy has accused a widely respected businessman of orchestrating the murders. No one else, including Don Johansson, believes her. As the story unfolds, Rob doggedly pursues the case, putting his career, and eventually his life, on the line. Koryta does a fine job telling this deeply engaging story. This novel is, indeed, a top-notch thriller.

As I write, Michael Koryta is 35 years old. From 2004 to 2018, he wrote 13 novels. The first of those novels was published when he was 21. How It Happened is the most recent. He is a former private investigator and newspaper reporter.

For additional reading

Some time ago I reviewed another of the novels from Michael Koryta, The Prophet. It’s at Looking for an unconventional thriller? Read this book. You might also enjoy my posts, 54 excellent mystery and thriller series, 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers, and 20 outstanding detective series from around the world.

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For an abundance of great mystery stories, go to Top 20 suspenseful detective novels (plus 200 more). And if you’re looking for exciting historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers reviewed here (plus 100 others).

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